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TA - new service fees


WESTEAST
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Our TA changed agencies and reviewing the 'new' agency invoice for a recent onboard booking, it now states service fees will apply over and above the main component of cruise booking. Service fees include: booking domestic - international air $50-$100.00 pp; changes to booking - $25.00 pp for hotels, transfers, shore excursions, etc.  File cancellations are $100 pp. Very surprised as have been with this TA for many years and did not receive any notice that this would apply when switching agencies. Always was an advantage to have TA book non-cruise line air, transfers but now the advantage is diminishing. No doubt 'new agency' is trying to recoup lost Covid revenue. Would like to know if anyone pays such fees as news to us?

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1 hour ago, WESTEAST said:

Would like to know if anyone pays such fees as news to us?

Absolutely not. If my travel agency started to charge such fees, I'd definitely find a new one. I realize that there are other agencies that follow a similar approach, but as long as there are good agencies who don't, I will continue to avoid the former.

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59 minutes ago, Fouremco said:

 

Absolutely not. If my travel agency started to charge such fees, I'd definitely find a new one. I realize that there are other agencies that follow a similar approach, but as long as there are good agencies who don't, I will continue to avoid the former.

Thanks very much for your feedback. We will be definitely changing TAs.

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Time for a new TA . This could get expensive. You book extras and then there is a sale and you lose out as it would cost more to change. You change your mind about an excursion and lose money? I do everything for myself.. keeps the brain young

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What benefits are you getting for the fees? We would transfer TA's if they started to charge us for anything. But, maybe they are offering extras. Do you get it back in OBC after booking, for example?

 

Our TA responds the same day or within 24hrs if they aren't in the office. We've never had an issue contacting them when we needed something, and we get a reasonable OBC when booking with them for No additional costs to us. Not to mention much cheaper than booking direct with the cruise line.

 

They would have to be offering me something way above and beyond your typical TA to justify extra costs, if they are just charging to charge, I would skip on out of that place and find myself someone new. Lots of TA's out looking for new clients and are happy to work without charging the extra charges ontop. 

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We used a TA for an expedition cruise.  We used her for her supposed expertise, and there were fees involved to her agency if we cancelled.

 

We called her for the next cruise and she informed us that there was a $150 charge for the research, and then a fee schedule came by email for all her other fees.  Fees for research, fees for booking, fees for amendments to the booking... the list went on.

 

I believe that TA's are getting less and less in commissionable earnings.  I do not believe that they get anything today from Airlines, and very little from hotels, unless you are booking a package tour of air and hotel.

 

We only work with agencies that do not charge us but we do all our air and hotel ourselves, and only use the TA for the OBC on a cruise ship.

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Compensation for the services TA's provide is kind of complicated IMO.  Breaking down the OP's original post:

Service fees include: booking domestic - international air $50-$100.00 pp;

As CDNPolar mentions, I also do not think TA's get a commission for booking domestic flights (save for business class possibly??).  So if they help you book a flight, they won't earn anything from the effort unless you book something additional that does provide them with a commission.

changes to booking - $25.00 pp for hotels, transfers, shore excursions, etc.  File cancellations are $100 pp

Again, I do not think TA's get compensated for any work they do beyond the base booking commissions such as changes and cancellations.  

 

One perspective is that you kind of hope that everything can be baked in and averages out in the end.  I suppose the other perspective is that there's no free lunch and TA's should be compensated for specific asks.  I don't know what the right answer is. 

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32 minutes ago, squadron said:

What is the name of the agency?  What travel company?

Cruise Critic does not permit names and all ok as all fees have been waived.

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1 hour ago, WESTEAST said:

Cruise Critic does not permit names and all ok as all fees have been waived.

Good to hear.  The agent I deal with always says that she doesn't get paid until the "ding" that I just boarded the ship!

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11 hours ago, squadron said:

Good to hear.  The agent I deal with always says that she doesn't get paid until the "ding" that I just boarded the ship!

 

Don't know about when they get paid, but our first cruise experience we worked with a very large agency chain that specializes in cruise vacations, and out agent by mistake forwarded and email with the cruise line commission statement for our booking.  We were a bit shocked at the amount that the agency was being paid.  Now that will be divided by the company and then filter down to the individual agent, but if our agent was independent, it would have been a lot.

 

This prompted us to call the cruise line - we did not disclose that we saw the statement - and ask if we would get a better deal going direct... and the answer was no.

 

 

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On 4/11/2024 at 4:12 PM, Milhouse said:

Compensation for the services TA's provide is kind of complicated IMO.  Breaking down the OP's original post:

Service fees include: booking domestic - international air $50-$100.00 pp;

As CDNPolar mentions, I also do not think TA's get a commission for booking domestic flights (save for business class possibly??).  So if they help you book a flight, they won't earn anything from the effort unless you book something additional that does provide them with a commission.

changes to booking - $25.00 pp for hotels, transfers, shore excursions, etc.  File cancellations are $100 pp

Again, I do not think TA's get compensated for any work they do beyond the base booking commissions such as changes and cancellations.  

 

One perspective is that you kind of hope that everything can be baked in and averages out in the end.  I suppose the other perspective is that there's no free lunch and TA's should be compensated for specific asks.  I don't know what the right answer is. 

 

This is correct. TAs get very little commission on airfare, sometimes none at all depending on the airline, so it's not unheard of to have a ticketing/service fee for flights. They are doing the work for you. 

Can't get your seats assigned with the airline? The TA can...another thing they don't get commission on. 

You got a price drop on a cruise? Great, now the TA/agency makes less commission on the product, so in effect is now making less on doing more work. It's not unheard of to have a small fee for making a change or doing a price drop. 

You cancel your trip? Ok, now the TA has to call every supplier and put the work into getting your your money back and invoicing the refunds...also not making any commission anymore because your trip is cancelled now. I understand this $100 cancellation fee.

So much work TAs do is not paid for, including travel research, being on hold for sometimes hours to fix or rectify one small thing, dealing with flight schedule changes or cancellations...the list goes on. If I had to pay a $150 deposit to have a complex itinerary worked on, I would, because I don't want to do that myself, and otherwise it is free labour.

And like @CDNPolar said, the cost of the cruise is the same to the client, so why not give that $ to someone who is working for it on your behalf, rather than the cruise line itself?

TAs provide a service and like any other industry, they deserve to be paid for their time and work that goes mostly unseen by the general public. 

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1 hour ago, spethstation said:

 

This is correct. TAs get very little commission on airfare, sometimes none at all depending on the airline, so it's not unheard of to have a ticketing/service fee for flights. They are doing the work for you. 

Can't get your seats assigned with the airline? The TA can...another thing they don't get commission on. 

You got a price drop on a cruise? Great, now the TA/agency makes less commission on the product, so in effect is now making less on doing more work. It's not unheard of to have a small fee for making a change or doing a price drop. 

You cancel your trip? Ok, now the TA has to call every supplier and put the work into getting your your money back and invoicing the refunds...also not making any commission anymore because your trip is cancelled now. I understand this $100 cancellation fee.

So much work TAs do is not paid for, including travel research, being on hold for sometimes hours to fix or rectify one small thing, dealing with flight schedule changes or cancellations...the list goes on. If I had to pay a $150 deposit to have a complex itinerary worked on, I would, because I don't want to do that myself, and otherwise it is free labour.

And like @CDNPolar said, the cost of the cruise is the same to the client, so why not give that $ to someone who is working for it on your behalf, rather than the cruise line itself?

TAs provide a service and like any other industry, they deserve to be paid for their time and work that goes mostly unseen by the general public. 

You sound like a travel agent 😁

 

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For several years it has been common for travel agencies to charge for air bookings which do not pay a commission.  Most of my Cunard transatlantic voyages this century have involved a one-way flight on Air Transat. They pay a commission to agents; the tickets are considered part of a package tour.  Also, Porter pay - or did pay - commission so we never paid the agency fee on flights to and from New York.  Other airlines that I'm familiar with do not pay commission - even for Business Class.

 

 I generally book my own air but for the first time I have just paid my cruise specialist agency the $50 pp fee.  Agencies have access to lower fares through consolidators. Although the saving on Business Class tickets from Toronto to Vancouver and return was not huge, even with the charge it was worthwhile having our agent book this. Cunard offers reduced air fares for booking with them, but our agent's fare was even lower.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Be aware of the cruise line pricing. Buyer beware.   Be sure you know what the cruise line charges on their website, both fare and taxes. 

 

One travel agency here just adds extra on to the cruise line tax amount, So it the cruise line website notes, for example, $100 taxes and fees, this agency on their own website quotes a fare price and adds on an extra amount to the tax. What I have seen quoted is anywhere from $30 to 80 pp above the cruise line tax amount.

 

 

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17 hours ago, SilvertoGold said:

Be aware of the cruise line pricing. Buyer beware.   Be sure you know what the cruise line charges on their website, both fare and taxes. 

 

One travel agency here just adds extra on to the cruise line tax amount, So it the cruise line website notes, for example, $100 taxes and fees, this agency on their own website quotes a fare price and adds on an extra amount to the tax. What I have seen quoted is anywhere from $30 to 80 pp above the cruise line tax amount.

 

 

 

Interesting... The TA we use certainly does not do this as we book direct and then pass to the TA.  We have the invoice from the cruise line first and the TA invoice is always to the penny the same as the cruise line invoice.  

 

Good to know that this is happening as it sounds like a sort of hidden fee.

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3 hours ago, CDNPolar said:

 

Interesting... The TA we use certainly does not do this as we book direct and then pass to the TA.  We have the invoice from the cruise line first and the TA invoice is always to the penny the same as the cruise line invoice.  

 

Good to know that this is happening as it sounds like a sort of hidden fee.

This is the only agency that I have seen do this (I have only 4 or 5  agencies I view) but it is an easy way for them to make a bit extra if people do not do their homework.  Having customers who book with cruise line and transfer to a TA is the easiest way for them to make a profit: commision for much less work. I am sure they love it! 

What do you get for transferring your booking to a TA? OBC?, etc?

 

Do you use the cruiseline regualr booking line or do you go through a personal cruise consultant at the cruise line (example: HAL PCC)?

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38 minutes ago, SilvertoGold said:

This is the only agency that I have seen do this (I have only 4 or 5  agencies I view) but it is an easy way for them to make a bit extra if people do not do their homework.  Having customers who book with cruise line and transfer to a TA is the easiest way for them to make a profit: commision for much less work. I am sure they love it! 

What do you get for transferring your booking to a TA? OBC?, etc?

 

Do you use the cruiseline regualr booking line or do you go through a personal cruise consultant at the cruise line (example: HAL PCC)?

 

We sail mostly (98%) on Viking and we just call Viking reservation line.  We have tried to keep in touch with one person but when we call back they are gone.  Turnover.  We have just never found a long term person with Viking.

 

We do all our research and find the cruise we want and then call to book.  We have even booked online on the Viking site and not used the call centre at all.

 

Then we transfer.

 

Yes, our agent is making a commission without having to do this initial part of the booking but we prefer to do this ourselves and then there is no back and forth.

 

We then must use the TA for other additions or deletions as we move to sailing date.

 

There may be better deals out there but this one we are good with.

 

We get:

1) $200.00 pp OBC and this is applied at the point of booking.  We can use this in advance for shore excursions or onboard if we don't purchase before sailing.  It is NOT refundable.  (This is actually applied to our invoice before we have made final payment with this TA.)

2) $100.00 pp by cheque once a year, and several other coupons for other services.

 

Essentially we get $400 per cruise, and the the $200 once annually.

 

If we can/could find a better deal, we would move to that.

 

There is one large agency in Canada that books Uniworld that you can get a lot of benefit from but they don't book Viking so we are out of luck.

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7 hours ago, CDNPolar said:

 

We sail mostly (98%) on Viking and we just call Viking reservation line.  We have tried to keep in touch with one person but when we call back they are gone.  Turnover.  We have just never found a long term person with Viking.

 

We do all our research and find the cruise we want and then call to book.  We have even booked online on the Viking site and not used the call centre at all.

 

Then we transfer.

 

Yes, our agent is making a commission without having to do this initial part of the booking but we prefer to do this ourselves and then there is no back and forth.

 

We then must use the TA for other additions or deletions as we move to sailing date.

 

There may be better deals out there but this one we are good with.

 

We get:

1) $200.00 pp OBC and this is applied at the point of booking.  We can use this in advance for shore excursions or onboard if we don't purchase before sailing.  It is NOT refundable.  (This is actually applied to our invoice before we have made final payment with this TA.)

2) $100.00 pp by cheque once a year, and several other coupons for other services.

 

Essentially we get $400 per cruise, and the the $200 once annually.

 

If we can/could find a better deal, we would move to that.

 

There is one large agency in Canada that books Uniworld that you can get a lot of benefit from but they don't book Viking so we are out of luck.

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Believe the one large agency in Canada also offers Regent Seven Seas, NCL and many more 😉 We sail Oceania so we too are out of luck. Have read some posters use this company all the time and never had any issues but we have not tried to date.

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12 hours ago, WESTEAST said:

Believe the one large agency in Canada also offers Regent Seven Seas, NCL and many more 😉 We sail Oceania so we too are out of luck. Have read some posters use this company all the time and never had any issues but we have not tried to date.

 

If we are talking the same company, then we did do the Nile on Uniworld and it was a great experience...  BUT, we are experienced at booking and researching what we want before we call.  We actually only made the one call, got exactly the booking we wanted - and the agent was extremely knowledgeable - and that was that.

 

Due to the timing of the booking, about 7 months prior to departure we were also offered a 10% discount for paying in full.  We did this because with Viking we are expecting to pay 6 months out, so a 10% discount for paying at 7 months was a no brainer.  

 

We got OBC and 2 other substantial monetary benefits.

 

We will look for the other lines as we want to diversify from booking Viking now.

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23 hours ago, SilvertoGold said:

Do you use the cruiseline regualr booking line or do you go through a personal cruise consultant at the cruise line (example: HAL PCC)?

I normally book with a big box travel agency, but I'll occasionally book with the cruise line and then transfer the booking. For example, we have a HAL cruise in October that I booked directly online with HAL when a particularly sought after cabin became available. I grabbed it right away rather than risking someone else snagging it while I phoned the TA. I then transferred the booking to the TA.

 

The price and all other aspects of the booking remained the same, but by transferring it to the TA, we gained $925 shop card, as well as earning  2% cash-back. Typically, perks from the TA amount to 8-10% of the booking costs.

 

While this TA doesn't deal with all cruise lines, it does handle the majority of mainstream lines such as HAL, Celebrity, RCI, etc..

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  • 3 weeks later...

The ta i booked with has a 30.00 non refundable admin fee and-a 50.00 cancellation fee. As a solo traveller booking an inside room i get no obc. They have got me price drops, even a 20.00 one. Still i’m inclined just to book with the cruise line directly next time but i’ll see what other value they provide.

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4 hours ago, latebuyer said:

The ta i booked with has a 30.00 non refundable admin fee and-a 50.00 cancellation fee. As a solo traveller booking an inside room i get no obc. They have got me price drops, even a 20.00 one. Still i’m inclined just to book with the cruise line directly next time but i’ll see what other value they provide.

 

You must shop around for a TA.

 

Using a TA is personal and each person has a different reason for using one vs. not using one.

 

Service fees are a real thing with some and not with others.

 

It is not always about what dollar value a TA gives you for booking with them such as OBC, but the value they bring you in helping you to make the booking and navigate all the ins and outs of your booking.

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43 minutes ago, CDNPolar said:

 

You must shop around for a TA.

 

Using a TA is personal and each person has a different reason for using one vs. not using one.

 

Service fees are a real thing with some and not with others.

 

It is not always about what dollar value a TA gives you for booking with them such as OBC, but the value they bring you in helping you to make the booking and navigate all the ins and outs of your booking.

I am a pro at navigating on my own so a TA has no value. It is like a game for me and I do very well. I have gotten too many ' lectures' on here about what I am missing out on but I am smart enough to compare . It all takes time and becomes a bit of a hobby

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29 minutes ago, gold1953 said:

I am a pro at navigating on my own so a TA has no value. It is like a game for me and I do very well. I have gotten too many ' lectures' on here about what I am missing out on but I am smart enough to compare . It all takes time and becomes a bit of a hobby

 

Like I said, it is a personal choice....  I also love the investigation and the planning but use the TA after booking for the perks.

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