Carnival Cruise Lines in the US is moving to further stamp out retail discounting with a new anti-rebating policy from August 1.
The objective is to ensure a level playing field among travel agencies and to eliminate the unauthorised manipulation of pricing.
Only CCL approved rates will be able to can be used in any form of communication from next month.
Carnival has enforced uniform pricing in mass media for seven years in the US and is extending that policy to phone sales, direct mail flyers and face-to-face meetings.
The line is also modifying its policy on how value-add items can be marketed in conjunction with a cruise. This includes non-cash equivalent items such as wine, chocolate, beach towels, etc., and cash-equivalencies like onboard credits.
Carnival will continue to permit value-adds as long as they are part of a formal sales and marketing plan. Pre-approval will not be required for non-cash equivalent items where the actual (or perceived) value does not exceed 5% of the complete cruise fare or $25 – whichever is greater.
Non-cash equivalents that exceed that and all cash-equivalent value-adds require submission of a travel partner sales and marketing plan, as well as pre-approval by Carnival. The value of the giveaway item must always be less than 10% of the complete cruise fare.
The line has put together a team within its sales administration division with a primary focus on monitoring and auditing of pricing throughout the distribution system.
Methods will include website browsing, shopping around and checking payments applied to bookings, among others, according to Travel Market Report in the US.
Joni Rein, CCL vice president of worldwide sales, was quoted as saying that selling on price is a no-win situation.
“The customer you gain by price today is the one you lose tomorrow to price,” she said.
“One of the top three issues I hear consistently across the country is the non-level pricing. Rebating has been very problematic for a lot of the mid-sized players and the home-based, and even some of the large producers.”
The line said: “Inconsistent pricing in the marketplace confuses the consumer, encourages shopping, undermines an agent’s ability to sell on service and to close sales, and erodes the value of the Carnival brand.
“Violation of the policy will result in a range of actions such as the elimination of co-op marketing support, reduction or elimination of base commission and placement on a no-booking status.”
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