Travel agents are increasingly adding fees for their services this year, according to a survey of CruiseOne franchise owners and Cruises Inc. agents.
The survey of more than 1,000 agents found that 43% indicated that they had added a service fee this year. Another 29.5% are considering adding one by the end of the year, while 27.5% said they have always had a service fee.
Alaska cruise sales rebounded from a first-quarter lull, according to the survey. When asked to list their three top-selling cruise destinations during the second quarter of 2009, 34.4% of the agents chose Alaska, up from 14% during the first quarter.
The Caribbean was still the most popular selling destination, at 64.4%. Third place was tied between Europe, Mexico, Hawaii and the Mediterranean.
Comparing 2009 and 2008 second-quarter booking levels, 62% said that bookings had either decreased slightly or stayed the same. Forty-three percent indicated bookings had increased significantly or increased slightly, and 19% found that bookings decreased significantly.
For those who found that bookings had increased, price was found to be a significant factor. During that time, 64.1% of agents found that prices had decreased, while only 10.7% said they'd increased. The remainder found prices flat.
Compared with first-quarter 2009 pricing, 48.1% of respondents found that pricing had remained steady, while 39.7% said prices had decreased. A minority, 12.2%, said that prices were higher.
To further examine cruise booking trends, agents were asked to evaluate differences in pricing within the luxury, premium and mass market segments.
The luxury market remained the steadiest over 2008, the findings indicated, with 72.5% of respondents saying that luxury cruise bookings year-over-year did not change, and only 18.3% said bookings had decreased. Mass market bookings increased significantly, agents found, as they booked 76.6% more bookings than in the previous year; 23.4% saw no change.
The premium market saw the biggest decline as 24.4% of agents noted that bookings were down; however, 59.5% of agents said there was no change year-over-year.