MIAMI -- Norwegian Cruise Line's decision to maintain 10% pay on
airline tickets sold through the line and sister brand Orient Lines
was an uplifting note to agents amid commission cuts from the
airlines and car rental firms.
NCL executives gave themselves until the end of Wave season to
decide whether to cut air commissions to 5%, a move initiated last
September by Carnival and quickly matched by other large lines.
NCL chief executive officer Colin Veitch previously had noted
the decision to stay at 10% was not to be taken lightly.
"This is costing us money on the face of it," he said. "We have
a five-point differential in our commission."
But, he added, "It's worth it if we get something back."
That "something" NCL was looking for was a market-share shift to
the line. And something did happen: NCL reported a 60% increase in
Wave period bookings this year.
Cruise retailers called the move to retain 10% pay on air
"The air commission is a big part of our business," said Chris
Schwenk, leisure manager for Travelsavers in Winter Park, Fla. "We
try to move market share based on what the commission levels are as
well as what our relationships are with each vendor."
"Norwegian is very big with us ... and I definitely think it was
a great thing that Colin [Veitch] and his team decided to stay at
10%," he added.
George Wozniak, president of one of NCL's top-producing
agencies, Minneapolis-based Hobbit Travel, said changing prices
over the years -- cruise rates have decreased while air fares have
increased -- have nibbled away at commissions. NCL, he said,
"probably didn't want to add insult to injury."
Even agents who don't book a lot of NCL, such as Sandra Perdue,
owner of Cruise Shoppe Operations in Salem, Va., applauded the
"Just the 10% commission itself, with no other extenuating
circumstances, wouldn't send you to one line," Perdue noted, but
added, "it's a good incentive."
"I'm sure agents who do a lot of booking with NCL really applaud
it," she said. "And what few bookings we do, I think it's great.
It's great to show support for the agent community."