Michael Batt, chairman and founder of the Travel Acquisitions Group (TAG), and The Travel Franchise Group (TTFG) President Roger Block, who have both been leading the charge in publicly advocating cruise lines paying commissions on NCFs, praised Regent Seven Seas action and urged other cruise lines to follow Regent’s lead. As reported, Regent recently said that it would begin paying commissions on government fees, port charges and taxes on each cruise booked for 2010.
In a letter to Mark Conroy of Regent Seven Seas, Batt thanked Regent for its strong leadership. In a second letter, Batt encouraged other cruise industry executives to follow Regent’s lead, calling agents a key strategic asset to the cruise industry.
“On behalf of Travel Acquisitions Group’s family of brands I want to personally extend our deepest appreciation to you and Regent Seven Seas Cruises for making the strategic decision to pay commissions to travel agents on the complete cost of a cruise for 2010,” he said. “Regent Seven Seas has long been celebrated for its excellence in offering one of the most extraordinary cruise experiences available anywhere. Now, we believe you should also be duly recognized and applauded for your excellent leadership in working within the industry to ensure that your partners are appropriately paid, well-trained and highly motivated. As you know, we have publicly advocated that cruise lines pay commissions on port charges, government fees, taxes and included shore excursions for some time. By making the strategic decision to do just that for all 2010 cruises, Regent Seven Seas deserves both our gratitude and our business. Thank you for helping us help you.”
In its message to other cruise lines Batt urged them “to follow the groundbreaking lead of Regent Seven Seas Cruises by paying commissions to travel agents on the complete cost of a cruise.”
“Given the current economic climate it’s more important than ever that we work together to continue to build the cruise market," he said. "We need to encourage new cruisers to join the family, at the same time doing all we can to keep existing customers coming back to a quality product that we all passionately believe in. In tough times, cruise prices are understandably cut and the resulting commission reductions are having a devastating impact on the economics of the travel agency distribution channel. I’m asking you to consider following Regent in order to help protect your prime distribution channel so we can continue to support you in the same way we have over the past 25 years.
“Speaking for TAG, I am sincerely grateful for the investments that you and the rest of our cruise suppliers have made in creating world class cruise vacation products for our customers," Bratt continued. "The cruise industry has done so much to assist the travel agency community, and I believe we all appreciate the opportunity that has been provided for us. I’m not one to ask for something for nothing— I very much hope you view the travel agency community as a key strategic asset that will be a critical partner in helping you fill ships and optimize returns at a time when you most need it. Your active support will be appreciated, but more importantly it will keep motivated travel agents in the market selling cruises growing your business in the most difficult of times.”