MSC Cruises has defended a promotion that offers £100 onboard credit for direct bookings, insisting it has given added-value offers to agents to enable them to compete.
Agents criticised the offer, saying it put the trade at a disadvantage.
MSC confirmed the mailer had been sent to consumers who had never booked through the trade.
It insisted it had other offers for agents that “negated” the onboard credit offer, including back-end overrides, free Wi-Fi, regional coach transfers and group discounts.
Steve Williams, MSC’s sales director for the UK and Ireland, said agencies had different deals in place depending on “what works best for their customers”.
He said: “We are a trade-focused organisation and make huge investments every year in the trade to ensure that agents continue to be the driving force behind our rapidly growing business.
“We pride ourselves on a personal approach. It allows us to be flexible with our groups policy, commercials and consumer offerings, and means our agents can have a tailored package to allow them to be competitive in the market in a way that suits their own business needs.”
Williams added that some agents may be members of a consortium that has a commercial deal with MSC negotiated centrally of which they may not be aware.
And he promised that if agents believed they really had no way of matching direct deals, they should contact him personally.
“At MSC, our door is always open, and I would welcome any agent to give me, or their account manager, a call to discuss their individual proposition,” he said.
“Our local approach allows us to make changes, be adaptable and treat each agent individually, something we pride ourselves on.”
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