Earlier this week, RCCL told travel agents they would be adjusting their commission structure for 2009 for all their North American brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity and Azamara. In the CND article we detailed the changes and the method, but the bottom line is that travel agents will either have to sell more to make the same commission level on each cruise they sell, or make less money on each one.
While this may seem more of an agency issue, it will affect the consumer. Royal Caribbean doesn't allow their agents to rebate, so it won't affect the price you pay for your cruise directly, but it will probably shrink the incentives agents offer, such as free travel insurance or an onboard credit, or even the elimination (or reduction in quality) of a bon voyage gift. It will also affect things at more service-oriented agencies simply because the agency has to sell more cruises to make the same money, they will have less time available for each client.
So far no other lines have followed RCCL's lead, but if they do, consumers will experience smaller rebates available on those lines thus increasing their bottom line price.
Details appeared in the May 30 edition of Cruise News Daily.