Silversea Cruises has issued agents notice of a change in commercial terms to stop them poaching each others customers by giving away their commission to drive down prices.
Mike Bonner, Silversea UK general manager, said the new terms will come in on October 15 and will feature a double-pronged approach.
The first move will see any agent who poaches another agents' customer within 30 days of the original booking earn a reduced 10% commission level while the original agent gets nothing, if it outside the 30 days the original agent will earn the 10% while the new agent will get nothing.
And, in line with a number of other cruise operators' policies, Silversea intends to use co-operative marketing funds to encourage agents not to discount and to represent the brand in a way the line approves of.
"We will not allow agents to promote a cruise at a discount below our published fare on our website," Bonner said. "Although we can't dictate prices we are allowed to dictate how something is marketed.
"It seems to us the vast majority of agents want to have a level playing field and they want the operators to crackdown to stop this poaching activity happening. Good agents will provide service more than just selling on price."
Bonner described 2012 as a tough year for everyone but said the signs for 2013 were already encouraging. "Forward sales are looking very healthy. At the moment there seems to be a polarised market; very strong forward sales and late bookings, but high revenue late bookings.
"People are holding on to their money and booking late. When prices come down it's hard to get them back up but we have to offer value to our guests. We are quite confident the business is there, it's just teasing it out of people. The money's there at the top end of the market, it's just getting people to commit."
Bonner estimated prices are currently 5% to 10% down on where they should be but that as Silversea prepares to launch its 2014 programmes next month with its new ships sailing Galapagos cruises, he was very confident about prospects for next year.
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