Travel Agents

Royal Caribbean announces policy to protect full value of Future Cruise Certificates for travel professionals

In:
Category: 
13Mar2018

Royal Caribbean announced it has reevaluated its commissions structure for Future Cruise Certificates.

SVP Sales and Trade Support & Service Royal Caribbean International Vicki Freed announced to its travel partners that the cruise line is implementing a permanent policy to ensure travel professionals will receive the full value of the booking's commission when clients redeem their Future Cruise Certificates. 

Effective April 1st, 2018 and beyond, travel professionals that have a client redeem a Future Cruise Certificate will receive the full value of that booking’s commission.

According to Freed, the change came about as a result of last year's hurricanes that impacted so many reservations.  Because of this, Royal Caribbean protected the full value of commissions on bookings which included the redemption of a hurricane related Future Cruise Certificate.

Royal Caribbean honors travel partners of the year for 2017

In:
23Jan2018

Royal Caribbean celebrated its valued travel agent community with its annual Travel Partners of the Year Awards for North America.

The awards recognize travel agencies that do show a commitment to selling Royal Caribbean cruises, and this year's accolades recognized more than 10 top performers.

“These are extremely exciting times for the cruise industry – cruise lines and travel partners alike. The sky’s the limit at Royal Caribbean, and the strong performance we’ve seen is thanks in large part to our valued travel professionals and their incredible knowledge when it comes to planning inspiring vacations on our ships,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Royal Caribbean International. “I’m very proud to honor these experts who consistently work with us and continue to see success with their businesses. Congratulations to the returning and first-time Travel Partners of the Year award recipients.”

Royal Caribbean’s 2017 Travel Partners of the Year winners are as follows:

Chairman's Award for Overall Achievement     
Cruise Planners – an American Express Travel Representative

President's Award for Overall Achievement     
Expedia CruiseShipCenters

National Account Partner of the Year               
World Travel Holdings

Host Agency Partner of the Year                       
Travel Planners International

New-to-Cruise Partner of the Year                    
International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (ICE) *First-time winner

Home-Based Partner of the Year                       
CruiseOne, Dream Vacations & Cruises Inc. *First-time winner

Online Partner of the Year                                  
Cruise.com

Rising Star Partner of the Year                          
Cruises-N-More *First-time winner

Consortia Partner of the Year                            
Virtuoso

Corporate Incentive Partner of the Year          
Buy the Sea

Marketing Partner of the Year                           
Travel Leaders Network

Southeast Partner of the Year                           
Tourico Holidays *First-time winner

Northeast Partner of the Year                            
Autism on the Seas

Central Partner of the Year                                
KHM Travel Group

West Partner of the Year                                    
Morris Murdock

Canada Partner of the Year                                
Maritime Travel – LeGrow’s Travel *First-time winner

10 Secrets Royal Caribbean travel agents wish you knew

In:
Category: 
23Jan2018

While the word, "secret" usually refers to a bit of information that is supposed to be kept under wraps, when it comes to Royal Caribbean cruises, a secret is really just a lesser-known tidbit or trick that many others may not be aware of yet.  These "secrets" are really about improving and enhancing your cruise experience, and we love to share tips on this blog.

There are many wonderful travel agents that specialize in Royal Caribbean.  If you have read other posts on the blog, you might be aware that I use MEI-Travel for booking all of my Royal Caribbean cruises, and I can personally attest that they are fantastic!

If there is one suggestion I give to first time cruisers above all else, it is to use a travel agent to plan their Royal Caribbean cruise.  Many cruisers are unaware that the services provided by many good travel agents are 100% free of charge.  They are paid a commission from Royal Caribbean, and there is no extra cost to you for their services.

Since many first time cruisers are often surprised to hear that a travel agent is free to use, it got me thinking what other helpful bits of information might Royal Caribbean travel agents wish you knew about? My friends at MEI Travel helped come up with a list of suggestions.

1. Many travel agents are free to use  

Many travel agencies do not charge you a fee for their services, because Royal Caribbean pays them a commission. This means there are no cancellation or change fees charged by the travel agent. 

It should be noted that some travel agencies do charge fees to their clients, although it is not the norm.  Be sure to inquire about any fees for using a travel agency prior to working with them.

2. Travel agents specialize and focus on Royal Caribbean

Did you know a good travel agent that specializes in Royal Caribbean can work with you every step of the way, not just when you book the cruise?

Prices can change many times, but a good travel agent is willing to work with you to watch for discounts when you book, and keep track of small changes that can benefit you. Perhaps they can save you some money, or offer you a means of upgrading.  

3. Travel agents will sit on hold with Royal Caribbean so you can watch Alf

Everyone still watches Alf, right?

In all seriousness, one of the best reasons to use a travel agent is they will save you time.  They will be the ones to sit on hold with Royal Caribbean and work with the cruise line to sort out any issues, questions, or discrepancies.

This means you do not have to, and that results in more time for you to do something...anything else!

4. You get one person to work with instead of someone different every time you call

Don't you hate it when you have to explain the backstory of your current issue to someone each time you call?

When you use a travel agent, you get an agent who works with you from start to finish.  This means they are aware of your needs, remember the reasons why you chose what you booked, and are locked into assisting you with your cruise plans.

5. Travel agents can help pick out shore excursions

Often we associate travel agents with just being able to help plan our cruise and onboard experience, but travel agents are a great resource on shore excursions too. 

Just like you, travel agents take cruises and have visited many of the ports you may be cruising to.  Moreover, they are not just aware of what Royal Caribbean offers, but also third party options.  They can research the options in port and assist in picking out the perfect plans.

6. Gifts of appreciation

Do you remember the Stevie Wonder song, "I just called to say I love you"? Travel agents love to show their appreciation for your business, and that often comes in the form of small gifts.

It is great to walk into your stateroom and see a thank you note, a little extra onboard credit for spending onboard, or bottle of wine.  For travel agents, they want you not to just book one cruise with them, but many more.  So they work very hard to ensure you have a great cruise, and want you to know they appreciate your business.

7. They can help you arrange groups

If you are thinking of taking a Royal Caribbean cruise with friends, family, coworkers, high school classmates, random people from the internet, or anyone else and need to get a few cabins together for a group, then you really want to use a travel agent.

Organizing a group is no simple task.  Everyone has their own needs, and by working with a travel agent, the agent can assist everyone in the group take care of stateroom choices, prices, payments and answering the usual first time cruise questions.  This means you can focus on getting everyone excited for the cruise itself!

8. A travel agent is there to fight for you if something goes wrong

Of all the benefits a travel agent provides, this might be the least known, yet most important benefit of using a travel agency.  If you encounter a problem, either before or during your cruise, a good travel agent will be the one to contact Royal Caribbean and not only rectify the issue but make things right again.

Unfortunately mistakes can occur before or during a vacation.  It does not happen very often, but occasionally an error occurs that is not your fault.  If that occurs, a travel agent is the one to sort it all out and get you back on track.  Equally important, they are great advocates for you to be reimbursed for the inconvenience, especially when the fault is with the cruise line. 

9. Travel agents are trained and educated about Royal Caribbean (all the time)

A really common excuse for not using a travel agent is, "Can't I just do it myself?".  Of course you can, but travel agents spend a lot of time learning about all aspects of a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Beyond being knowledgeable about the basics of cruising, they take tours of the ships to learn what makes each ship unique.  In addition, they are educated in what other cruise lines offer, so they can better inform you as to how Royal Caribbean stacks up against its competitors. Essentially, they never stop learning about cruising, and that results in being able to provide you an informed and complete look at all of your options.

10. They learn what you like

A good Royal Caribbean travel agent works with you cruise after cruise, and they learn about what you prefer on a cruise.  They will know your likes, dislikes and what is important to you when it comes to making vacation plans.

The benefit to you in all of this is it means a faster and simpler booking process.  Unlike when you call into a call center and have to explain everything to them, your travel agent already knows you and remembers what kind of stateroom categories you tend to book, which dining rotation your family enjoys, etc. Like so many of the other reasons to book a travel agent listed earlier in this post, the result is time saved and value added for you!

Bonus secret: You can transfer your reservation to a travel agent within 60 days of booking

Did you read all of this and realize you now want to transfer the cruise reservation you made directly with Royal Caribbean to a travel agent?  Good news, there may be time for you to do so!

Anyone can transfer a Royal Caribbean cruise reservation to a travel agent as long as you are within 60 days of the initial booking. 

By transferring the reservation to a travel agent, you are entitled to all the same service outlined in this post, and the agent can work with you to double check the price of your cruise reservation and keep track of price changes.

Your thoughts

Have you used a travel agent before?  Are you thinking of using a travel agent, but still have questions? Share your experiences or concerns in the comments!

Why first-time cruisers should use a Royal Caribbean travel agent

In:
Category: 
15Jun2016

Using a knowledgeable and helpful travel agent can take the stress out of planning a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation, which can be a complicated and overwhelming task for the first-timer.  

As a Royal Caribbean veteran, it is easy to forget the common questions and concerns those new to cruising and/or Royal Caribbean struggle with, such as what the difference is between the ships, leveraging discounts, what stateroom to book and more.  It is because of these sort of questions (and a whole lot more) why there is serious value in using a travel agent.

Why use a travel agent

The first and biggest reason to use a travel partner in planning your Royal Caribbean cruise is the service.

Imagine having someone with a wealth of knowledge about Royal Caribbean that can help you with your particular circumstances, preferences, and needs.That’s what a good travel agent provides. It’s a back-and-forth dialogue, and they’re there to hold your hand and give you personalized advice.

Travel agents that specialize in Royal Caribbean are often fans of the cruise line too and enjoy planning their own trips and want to share their knowledge with others.  When you seek out a travel agent, an agent with great knowledge of Royal Caribbean is critical to helping you have a better cruise experience.  Royal Caribbean has spent an incredible amount of time and resources to help educate agents in what Royal Caribbean offers and it all ends up benefiting you.

Given these folks' experience with the brand, that translates to guests as having someone "in their corner" that can provide advice and firsthand knowledge of the destinations they are helping to book.  Not only that, they are the ones that sit on hold with Royal Caribbean so you do not have to, and they are the ones constantly comparing new promotions to see which benefit you the most.

Beyond that, there is no cost to you.  A good travel agent is paid commission by Royal Caribbean on the cruises they book, so you are not paying anything extra.  

It is really a win-win scenario for everyone: you get great service, Royal Caribbean books another cruise and the agent gets paid by the cruise line. Arguably, the biggest "winner" is you.  You have one contact who gets to know you, is responsive to your requests & questions, and feels a vested interest in making sure you have a great trip. You don’t call Royal Caribbean, wait on hold for an interminable amount of time, and have to deal with any of the footwork of booking it on your own.

This is especially important in today's world of cruising, where you have specialty dining reservations, shore excursions, WOWbands and more.  Your travel agent is a liaison between you and Royal Caribbean, putting out fires and fixing problems that may arise. They save you headaches and stress in solving these problems because they are your buffer between all of that.

With all of that said, some folks argue they prefer to have total control over their vacations or simply enjoy spending hours reading blogs like this one (and thank you to those of you cannot get enough of this sort of content).  

Even if you are someone that prefers to "do it all" on your own, it might make sense to book through a travel agent so that they can monitor discounts and be your aide in case a situation should arrive, while you can focus on the "fun" stuff, like researching excursions and booking specialty dining. Most vacation planners are as hands on or off as you specify, and it’s pretty easy to let them know what expect of them and what you’d like to do yourself.

The other important truth about travel agents is they will find you the same prices as you can on your own.  In fact, travel agents are more likely to save you money compared to doing it on your own.  Travel agents not only have access to the same fares you can see on Royal Caribbean's web site, but they may also have access to group cruise rates within their agency network, or be able to offer you other booking promotions in addition to what Royal Caribbean offers. 

These days, we are all trying to save money so we have more of it to spend on another vacation (or maybe just more money to spend onboard).  What I love about using a travel agent is they price out various promotions Royal Caribbean offers and then tell me what is the best option.  I especially enjoy when I get up in the morning and check my email to find a message that the latest promotion has already been applied by my travel agent and I saved some money. It is that kind of hustle, knowledge and trust that really makes using a travel agent a no-brainer for me.

Picking a travel agent

If you are convinced that a travel agent is the right choice for you, then there are a few things to consider when choosing one.  

First, you should contact a couple of agencies with some general inquiries to find one that you can "connect" with.  Specifically, you want to find someone that understands what you are interested in, is knowledgeable and responds to your needs.

It should be pretty easy to tell based on their first email or two whether they’re someone you want to work with, but if you’re still unsure, request a quick phone call. You are trusting this person with your vacation and (potentially) will communicate with them a lot, so you should make sure they aren’t impersonal or will treat you like a number. This is typically a total non-issue, as most travel agents I have encountered are incredibly pleasant and enthusiastic, but it’s good to double-check if things don’t seem right from the get-go.

Second, you will want to make sure they are providing the level of service we mentioned in this post.  Figure out which aspects of the cruise vacation planning process are most important to you and ensure those are things they do.  Not all agencies offer the same services, so be sure the one you are considering will help you in the areas you would like assistance.

Finally, they have to know their stuff.  Ask them questions about their own experience to understand how well they know the brand.  They do not have to have cruised on every Royal Caribbean ship (not even I have done that), but you want them to know their stuff.  

Your thoughts

If you’ve used an travel agent to book a Royal Caribbean cruise, how was your experience? Any other tips you’d like for choosing a travel agent? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean announces its 2015 travel partners of the year award recipients

In:
Category: 
14Jan2016

Roal Caribban has announces its list of their annual Travel Partners of the Year for the United States of America and Canada.

"Royal Caribbean is delighted to name our 2015 Travel Partners of the Year to recognize these incredibly successful and meaningful partnerships," said Vicki Freed, senior vice president, Sales, Trade Support and Services, Royal Caribbean International. "We are driven by our ongoing commitment to travel agents and are very proud to acknowledge these travel partners who have displayed an exemplary commitment to our brand and achieved significant growth in their business with us. We thank all of our valued travel agent partners for recommending Royal Caribbean to their clients and their important role in creating incredible adventures for our guests."

Royal Caribbean’s 2015 Travel Partners of the Year award recipients are as follows:
 
Chairman's Award for Overall Achievement       

Cruise Planners- An American Express Representative
 
President's Award for Overall Achievement      

Vacation.com                   
 
National Partner of the Year

AAA/CAA
 
Home-based Partner of the Year

Nexion, LLC
 
Online Partner of the Year

Expedia, Inc.
 
Consortia Partner of the Year

Ensemble Travel Group
 
Corporate Incentive Partner of the Year

Maritz Travel Company
 
Luxury Partner of the Year

Virtuoso
 
Loyalty Partner of the Year

CruCon Cruise Outlet Plus, Inc.
 
Marketing Partner of the Year

Avoya Travel
 
Southeast Partner of the Year

Educational Travel Service, Inc.
 
Northeast Partner of the Year

Autism on the Seas
 
Central Partner of the Year

AAA Allied Group
 
West Partner of the Year

Auto Club Enterprises/AAA Travel
 
Canada Partner of the Year

Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Royal Caribbean announces its 2013 travel partners

In:
Category: 
15Jan2014

Royal Caribbean has announced its list of 2013 Loyal to Royal Travel Agent Partners of the Year for the United States and Canada.

The award recognizes the travel agencies that are among the top performers as well as their "loyalty and commitment to the cruise line."

President's Award for Overall Achievement
World Travel Holdings 
Wilmington, Mass. 

Home-based Partner of the Year 
Cruise Planners-American Express Travel 
Coral Springs, Fla. 

Consortia Partner of the Year 
AAA Travel 
Heathrow, Fla. 

Online Partner of the Year 
Cruise.com 
Dania Beach, Fla. 

Corporate Incentive Partner of the Year 
Buy the Sea 
Plantation, Fla. 

Canada Partner of the Year 
Air Canada Vacations 
Ontario, Canada 

Southeast Region Partner of the Year 
AAA Carolinas 
Charlotte, N.C. 

Northeast Region Partner of the Year 
American Discount Cruises 
Englishtown, N.J. 

Central Region Partner of the Year 
The World of Travel 
Bloomfield, Mich. 

West Region Partner of the Year         
Morris Murdock Travel 
Salt Lake City, Utah 

Royal Caribbean Chairman to travel agents: "our fortunes depend on your support"

In:
Category: 
08Nov2013

Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain spoke at the keynote speech of the CruiseWorld convention and had a very direct message to travel agents that sell Royal Caribbean cruises,  "our fortunes depend on your support."

TravelWeekly reports that Fain's speech was about the role travel agents play in guiding people looking to book a cruise. Fain noted, "the vast bulk of cruising is still purchased through the travel agency community."

To illustrate his point, Fain used an analogy of shopping for a dress with his youngest daughter and how someone knowledgable in the product can make a difference in sales.

"I know what dresses are; everybody knows what vacations are. But people need to be guided."

Royal Caribbean begins month-long travel agent appreciation campaign

In:
Category: 
16Sep2013

As part of Royal Caribbean welcoming its 50 millionth guest this year, the cruise line is introducing, "Travel Agents Make the WOW Go Round", which is a month-long campaign to recognize how important travel agents are to the cruise line and its guests.

During the campain, Royal Caribbean business development managers will visit and call travel agents across the United States and Canada to personally thank them for supporting Royal Caribbean and sharing the Travel Agent Make the WOW Go Round message.

Royal Caribbean senior vice president of Sales & Trade Support and Services, Vicki Freed, commented on the new campaign, "The unwavering support and trusted business partnership with travel agents are things we value immensely and reciprocate daily through our personalized sales support and our Loyal to You commitment."

The new campaign also will have Royal Caribbean giving away 50 staterooms on the brand new Quantum of the Seas cruise ship's pre-inaugural sailing.  Travel partners in the U.S. and Canada who make a booking between now and September 30, 2013, on any 2013 and 2104 sailing will be automatically entered for a chance to win.  Those travel partners who make bookings on Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas for 2013-2014 sailings will earn two entries per booking.

Royal Caribbean values travel agents for their efficency

In:
21Jun2011

Royal Caribbean’s senior vice president of sales and trade support and services, Vicki L. Freed, believes travel agents play a vital role in selling Royal Caribbean cruises still.

In an interview with Travel Market Report, Freed indicated that Royal Caribbean still values the role travel agents play in today's market, “We look at travel agents as a very efficient cost of distribution.  You can’t look strictly at cost per transaction. It really has to be looked at as a value that the travel agent brings to us.”

In addition, the knowledge a good travel agent can have will often be helpful to the customer, "Travel agents bring value because oftentimes the consumer comes in thinking they want a certain type of vacation and a knowledgeable travel agent can say, ‘I think I have a better alternative.’".