Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is taking an open-minded approach to remunerating travel agents in the future, so long as the offering is “mutually sustainable”.
Speaking to Travel Weekly, NCL’s director of sales for Australia and New Zealand, Damian Borg, said the cruise line is very conscious of the current situation facing all agents in regard to cash flow.
“Whilst we are seeing a slow but steady flow of new bookings coming through. Most of these are for sailings that will not depart for 18 months,” he said.
Since July, Borg said NCL has implemented several initiatives to trade partners designed to assist them through this difficult period, including a combination of gift card incentives and upfront commission at the time of booking.
“These initiatives were delivered both to trade direct and via third-party wholesale partners,” he said.
“We fully intend to keep an open mind when it comes to remuneration moving forward, and will work with our key partners to ensure we can deliver a mutually sustainable partnership offering.”
Helping agents convert cruise credits is a major focus for NCL right now, and the cruise line has enabled them to self-report on all future cruise credit coupons held by their guests.
“We are actively working with them to develop strategies to best communicate the key information,” Borg said.
“This is the lowest of hanging fruit, and it goes without saying that guest with credit will be the easiest to covert.
“Commission is also paid on all new bookings that are made and paid for using a future cruise credit.”
To further support agents – which, on average, account for 70 to 80 per cent of all local bookings – NCL is relaunching its trade portal, Norwegian Central, in the coming weeks, which will comprise four main sections: ‘learn’, ‘promote’, ‘book’ and ‘connect’.
Complimenting Norwegian Central 2.0 will be an exclusive new rewards program for agents, and the cruise line is also running a five-day Christmas giveaway encouraging Aussie and Kiwi trade partners to ‘Get In The Holiday Spirit’.
Borg said that while agents are pre-occupied and fixated on dealing with the complexities of cancellations and refunds, now is the time to set in place a recovery strategy.
“There is so much selling right now, and cruise is definitely one sector that is coming back,” he said.
“I urge every agent to find one day a week or one hour a day to communicate to their database.
“Our marketing team has produced easy-to-use promotional assets that help to simplify the process, and our BDMs are there to assist where possible.
“We have many partners seeing success right now and building future revenue, and all of them have conducted some sort of consumer communication. It could be as easy as a Facebook post or a simple email.”