SEATTLE -- When is a letter from a cruise line not really a letter
from the cruise line?
Ella Grondahl, owner of Global Escapes in Athens, Ga., was
asking that of Holland America after one of her firm's clients
received a letter from one of HAL's in-house "personal cruise
The letter referred to "a new department for individuals who
prefer to book directly with us rather than using a travel
The letter, which was sent in response to a brochure request,
offered the client "an opportunity to have a ... relationship with
a Personal Cruise Consultant. This will ensure you receive
efficient service with your initial planning, booking and servicing
of your cruise."
A HAL spokeswoman said the letter had been sent on an individual
basis by only a few of its PCCs. "This was not a ... broad-based
distribution," she said. She added the letter didn't intend to
imply that direct bookers would get better service from a PCC than
from a travel agent, only that PCCs offer better service to
consumers than the line's agent-focused res center would.
The main mission of the PCC department -- which has been around
for a couple of years -- is to follow up on direct leads via the
"What's important to us is to get the booking," the spokeswoman
said. "At any point in the process, we're happy to turn a booking
over to a travel agent."
Grondahl said HAL later apologized for the letter. "I'm glad
they're saying, 'We apologize, and we're trying not to do it
[anymore],' " she said.
To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].