Many travel agents, and some cruise executives, have pointed to the importance of price guarantees during this time of competing promotions and discounts.
"Consumers are more apt to purchase now if they get a guarantee that they will receive any future price reductions," said Greg Nacco of Cruise Specialists in Seattle. "I'm a huge supporter of any cruise line which will do this, as it helps rebuild consumer confidence, which will help demand, which ultimately drives pricing back to healthy levels."
Nacco said that because past passengers know a deal when they see it, they are quick to reserve their cabin and they are typically booking far out from the sail date. Nacco said that Crystal Cruises has one of the best price-protection plans in the business.
Crystal automatically rebooks any passenger who has already purchased a cruise if a lower fare becomes available.
Bill Smith, Crystal's senior vice president of sales, has been touting the program as one of the most important aspects of changes Crystal has made to its pricing this year.
"If your clients come onboard and find out they paid a lot more than their next-door neighbor, they are going to call you up yelling at you," Smith told a group of agents onboard the Crystal Symphony two weeks ago. "Why would we want to embarrass travel agents?"
In September, Royal Caribbean International began publicizing its existing price guarantee program: Customers who find a lower fare advertised by Royal Caribbean until 72 hours prior to sailing receive onboard credit equal to the price difference.
"The program isn't new, but we started to talk about it more, to give consumers confidence in making earlier buying decisions," said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales for Royal Caribbean.