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Cruise lines have been urged to step in and “nip discounting in the bud”, as agents revealed it had become more widespread in recent months.
Many in the sector insisted discounting had been kept at bay since Carnival Corporation cut commission to 5% in 2012, but agents claimed it had reared its head again.
Scott Anderson, of The Luxury Cruise Company, claimed some agents were discounting cruises by up to 13%. Thomas Cook was this week offering 5% off.
“We’ve lost bookings as a result of others discounting, but we refuse to drop our prices,” he said. “It annoys me that there is no way of policing it. I’d like cruise lines to take away marketing funds from those that discount.
“Discounting breeds a culture among consumers who think they can get cheaper prices, but we won’t play price ping pong. Cruise lines must nip it in the bud.”
While companies can’t stop agents discounting, river cruise line Viking previously changed its commercial terms in a bid to prevent it, and Tauck has warned it won’t support agents who discount its prices.
Fred Olsen Travel head of cruise Geoff Ridgeon said discounting had begun to appear in the luxury and river markets as more mainstream agencies begin selling the product.
Phil Nuttall, managing director of The Cruise Village, said: “We’re winning customers and business has grown, but we are losing some bookings because of discounting by others. We have to educate customers that saving the odd £20 isn’t worthwhile.”
Seamus Conlon, managing director of online agent Cruise.co.uk, said: “Consumers can find bigger discounts, wider selections and more expert knowledge if they deal with specialist online cruise agents, compared with generalist agents.”
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