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Published on Monday, July 8, 2013

Agents underwhelmed by cruise lines' bonus payments



Independent agents have dismissed P&O Cruises and sister company Cunard's new bonus payments, announced last week, as "derisory".


And Advantage leisure director Julia Lo-Bue Said accused the cruise lines' new head of sales Chris Truscott of failing to understand his market.


Truscott said the bonus payments had been introduced as part of his new Agent Matters campaign which he has launched after spending four months talking to agents. He said he saw "strong demand" for the cruise lines and wanted to build on their "most successful ever" launch this year.


While insisting that both companies will stick with the reduced 5% base rate commission introduced in 2011, Truscott said agents will get an additional £50 per passenger on Cunard's Vantage fares and an additional £20 per passenger on Getaway deals. P&O is offering bonus payments of £40 and £15 respectively.


However, the payments will only be made to selected agents, they will only apply to the first two people on each booking, and bookings must be made at least 60 days before departure. Also, the payments only apply to 2013 departures and must be for a minimum of seven days.


Truscott refused to reveal which agents or how many would receive the bonus payments, but he said they would go to those agents who "have demonstrated an ability and a desire to work with us and deliver incremental business".


He said he had taken onboard feedback from agents, but there is still a rift with Advantage, which has been advising members to switch-sell to alternative cruise lines since P&O and Cunard cut their base rate commission.


Truscott said he had met with Advantage head of commercial John Sullivan last week and "talked about opportunities for a fuller conversation" but Sullivan's colleague Lo Bue-Said was clearly unimpressed with Truscott's latest move.


"We're always happy to discuss any opportunity for members to earn incremental earnings however this is another example of how a supplier to the trade doesn't understand their market and expects the agency community to work for a derisory sum," said Lo Bue-Said.


"I'm trying to understand how this bonus commission offer will encourage the agents to proactively sell towards P&O and Cunard?"


She said it would also take some time for the two cruise lines to rebuild agents' trust.  "If P&O and Cunard want to improve their sales and reward agents in an effective manner then I would suggest they do this with a long term view," she added.


 


By Linsey McNeill

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