Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Oct. 22, 2007

MANY HOME-BASED AGENTS have contacted Travel Weekly's Home-Based Agent E-letter in recent days to comment on the news that Royal Caribbean Cruises' three brands began terminating their business relationships with companies they concluded were card mills. "Hooray for RCCL! I have been in the business 30 years, and their efforts to qualify agents is great," wrote Maryellen Iobst, a certified travel counselor. "It's about time someone sits up and takes notice that all the professional agencies create a value. I hope that all the other cruise lines follow." Others, such as an agent identified as "Rick," wasn't so pleased. "Well, come on, give us the names of the companies that Royal Caribbean is blackballing," he wrote.  YTB International and Joystar have confirmed that Royal Caribbean had informed them that the cruise company would no longer do business with them. One YTB agent wrote that YTB gave him the opportunity to enter the travel business, and that he was saddened by the news.

CRUISEONE, the franchise operation with 500 independent cruise-only travel professionals, and Cruises Inc., its affiliated host agency network, said they support the actions taken by Royal Caribbean. "I am thrilled that one of the largest cruise [companies] has addressed a major industry problem," said Vivian Ewart, senior vice president of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. "CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. work hard to provide professionalism and have been in business since 1992 and 1981, respectively." All affiliated agents, she said, must have more than 70 hours of classroom-style training at the company's Fort Lauderdale-based corporate headquarters. Continuing education is also provided through Web seminars and regional instruction, she said.

THE 2007 INDEPENDENT AGENT REPORT, released by the the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents, found that a majority of NACTA members work with a host agency. Fifty-one percent of them split commissions with their host; the average split is 72% to the agent and 27% to the host. A small number, less than 5%, keep 100% of commissions and pay a fee to the host agency. The average monthly fee paid is $286. Cruise bookings continue to be the main source of NACTA members' revenue; 60% of respondents said so, with other travel products falling far behind. Twenty-two percent of respondents said tours generated the majority of their revenue, and 15.5 percent said that FIT/trip planning brought in the majority of revenue. The report was based on results from an e-mail survey with 627 respondents.

DATEBOOK: The Outside Sales Support Network's Cleveland chapter will meet Thursday, Oct. 25, from 7 to 8 p.m. for a presentation from ClientEase. The chapter will welcome OSSN agents as well as non-members at Mavis Winkle's Restaurant & Pub. Darla Graber, president of ITAMS, will discuss the ClientEase client database management system designed for home-based agents. More information is available by e-mailing the chapter at [email protected].

FAM OF THE WEEK

India

Trip: Two nights in Calcutta and eight days cruising the Brahmaputra River aboard the 24-passenger Sukapha.

Departure: Dec. 5 from Calcutta, land only.

Length: Nine nights.

Sponsor: Value World Tours, Fountain Valley, Calif.

Cost: $1,595 per person, double. Includes hotel, some meals during the land portion of the trip, air within India, sightseeing, an upper-deck cabin on the cruise, all meals on the cruise and guided shore excursions.

Noteworthy: Companions are eligible for $100 additional; the single supplement is $595. Port charges and visa fees are not included. Air can be arranged.

Contact: (800) 795-1633; e-mail: [email protected].

Home-Based Agent Editor: Donna Tunney

Phone: (508) 221-3674

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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