|(c) 2011 Princess Cruises|
Starting November 1, the Princess Cruises call center will close three hours earlier Monday through Friday. Weekend and holiday hours will remain the same.
Current hours are 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. EDT (or 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. PDT). New hours will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT (or 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PDT).
A Princess spokeswoman says the change is being made because "so many travel agents are using our many online resources at OneSourceCruises.com to support their client bookings."
The line says that last year it launched OneSourceAnswers, a tool that allows agents to access the same information database that the line's in-house support team uses. The Princess spokeswoman told Travel Agent "this is a time saving convenience that is always available so agents can look up information online while they’re talking to their clients on the phone. They can search for everything about the product, policies and procedures and directions to the pier."
She says that agents tell Princess they browse the answers to garner useful tidbits for their sales efforts and handling of client bookings. "This has clearly reduced their need to call us for answers to many questions," the spokeswoman said.
At least one agent sees it differently. He tweeted publicly to national travel media that he believes it's a posture to cut services to agencies and to sell more cruises directly.
Princess' official response: "This change is actually a positive one, as we're thrilled to see agents using the tools we're offering online and becoming more knowledgeable about our product so they're able provide information to their clients without calling us as often.
What's your perspective? Will the reduction in weekday call center hours hurt your business, or is it a non-event for your agency?