Agents gave mixed reactions to the decision by P&O Cruises and Cunard to offer bonus commission.
The Carnival UK cruise brands last week announced they would pay up to £50 per person extra for the remainder of 2013, on sailings more than 60 days out for cruises of seven nights or more.
Head of sales Chris Truscott insisted the move was not a U-turn on the operators’ controversial decision to cut commission to 5% in 2011. He said the decision to cut commission had successfully combatted agent discounting in the market.
But agents said they suspected it reflected the impact of their withdrawal of support for the cruise lines.
Stephen Bath, joint managing director of Bath Travel, said: “The decision to cut commission was the worst and most disastrous commercial decision I’ve seen in 35 years.”
Bath, who estimated the bonus payments could amount to as much as 5% of the fare, added: “I’m delighted to see amends are being made so strongly. This is a massive amount of money they’re throwing around.”
Truscott said the bonus commission was being offered only to the brands’ most supportive agents, although he described this as a “broad church” of larger and smaller partners.
Phil Nuttall, managing director of The Cruise Village, backed the policy to target supportive agents, but wanted a longer-term commitment to higher commission.
“It’s a step in the right direction; maybe they’ve got a lot of capacity to shift,” he said. “But I’d like to see it offered across the board to all cruises on sale.”
John Sullivan, Advantage head of commercial, said: “There will be a mixed reaction [from members].
“Some will embrace it with open arms and see it as a step in the right direction, others will say it does not go far enough.”
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