The National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) says independent travel consultants have been pulling away from mainstream and mid-market cruise lines to mitigate low cruise fares and non-commissionable fees (NCFs) and, instead, selling all inclusive vacations, luxury and river cruises and flexible, independent travel (FIT) packages.
“Our research shows it has been a natural progression for our travel consultants to opt for the higher yielding sales of luxury and small ship cruises, tours and FIT packages replacing the lower yielding cruise sales,” NACTA President Ann van Leeuwen told independent travel consultant members attending a conference of NACTA Chapter Directors at the Grande Rivera Sandals resort in Jamaica.
NACTA itself is broadening their product portfolio beyond the contemporary cruise lines whose pricing practices return lower profits for members.
Van Leeuwen points to its strong and growing partnerships with luxury, river and small ship cruise partners like Crystal Cruises, AMAWaterways, Paul Gauguin, and Alaskan Dream Cruises, as well as new entrants to the market like Scenic Tours & CroisiEurope. NACTA’s newest partnership with ITeXplorer will allow its members to build tailor-made multi-destination FIT packages for their clients in minutes.
“We are continuing to look for new partnerships that will increase client satisfaction, travel consultant productivity, sales and commissions,” van Leeuwen stated.
More agents also are specializing so they can customize cruise and other travel for clients, van Leeuwen noted. NACTA cites ASTA’s 2013 survey on the NACTA membership which shows a 16 percent shift in their business away from cruise sales since 2010, where 60 percent of the members overall business was cruise based, to 2013, which reported at 49 percent of their overall business.
Agents say they are finding it impossible to make enough money on commissions on inexpensive cruises, according to a new Travel Market Report article that shows shockingly low commissions on cruise sales.
NACTA will hold its annual conference at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, October 30 – November 3, 2014. NACTA members will also participate in the Global Convention of its parent association, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), September 14-21, 2014, held for the first time at sea aboard Norwegian Cruises Norwegian Breakaway, a new cruise ship sailing out of New York.
“This convention and annual general meeting will give our agents a good look at one of the newest ships from a cruise line that values the sales our members generate for them,” said Van Leeuwen.