We’re a little short-staffed with it being spring break this week so I’ve been handling a few customer calls, which is always a great thing for a manager to do now and then. This week, I had two questions come up about pricing and I think they really speak to some of the misconceptions (and mis-representation) that is out in the market.
The first question was from a customer asking if we could match a deal she’d seen where the price was advertised as 80% off. I got the ship, sail date and stateroom category and quoted the currently available rate for her which was the same as what she had been offered with the 80% discount. The thing is, that discount was really just imaginary–it was based against a so-called “brochure rate” that was in excess of $2,000 per person for a 7-night, contemporary cruise sailing on a shoulder season date. In plain talk, I’m pretty confident the cruise, cabin and itinerary in question has NEVER sold for anything even close to that in the real world. Then, for grins I checked the brochure for this particular cruise and found that it didn’t even contain any pricing! My advice to you is when you see an offer where a percentage off is presented, you should check the actual prevailing rate and then see if the offered rate is really any deal at all. For our part, when we advertise dollars off or percentage savings, it’s because we have an actual price differential over the currently available prevailing rates. A great example of this is our Hawaii cruises on Pride of America from Norwegian Cruise Line. We took out contracts on group space early and while rates have risen steadily this year, ours are locked in (plus there’s some added value in the form onboard credit). We have hundreds of other voyages where this situation exists. But we’ll never try and fake a deal that really isn’t there.
The second question is one that’s a source of anxiety for us, but one we’re happy to answer. . . and that is, “Why should I book my cruise with you instead of directly with the cruise line?” I think a lot of people believe the cruise line will have a better deal, but this could not be further from the truth. The cruise line will always have the highest currently available rate, while travel agencies may in fact be able to offer the same cruise lower. To be fair, that may also be the same rate that a travel agency is offering, but the cruise line’s price will never be lower. On the other hand, many agencies hold lots of contract fares (group space) and this is often going to provide you with a lower fare. There’s another good reason to work with an agency vs. the cruise line. . .and that’s choice. See, a cruise line call center employee can only offer you their cruise and they’ll never explore or suggest alternatives that might be a better fit (or better deal). I recorded a brief video about this last year and you can view it here.
I hope this info was helpful and as always, we appreciate any feedback or comments.
Best regards and Happy Friday,