Carnival Tightens Policy on Value-Adds Agents Can Give to Clients
By Theresa Norton Masek
July 06, 2012 2:05 PM
Carnival Cruise Lines is tightening its policy that limits the amount and type of value-adds that travel agents can give clients who buy a cruise. Effective Aug. 1, value-add booking incentives can only be non-cash equivalent items valued at $25 per passenger or less. Previously the non-cash-equivalent value-add limit was less than 5 percent of the complete cruise fare or $25, whichever was greater.
In addition, Carnival allowed for cash-equivalent value-adds that were less than 10 percent of the complete cruise fare with an approved marketing plan. Non-cash equivalent items include tote bags, hats, beach towels, memory books, sunglasses and Carnival gifts delivered onboard.
Examples of cash-equivalent value-add items that will no longer be accepted include, but are not limited to, cash, gas cards, onboard credits, pre-paid gratuities, airline miles, third-party cash back offers, free or discounted protection coverage, free or discounted shore excursions, free or discounted hotels nights, reduced airfare, gift cards or anything that equates to a cost associated with the cruise. Moving forward, there is no pre-approval process for value-adds. But Carnival can review promotional offers to ensure they align with brand guidelines and may request that partners remove or change offers should they not meet these criteria.
Carnival said the policy was tightened to ensure “that all travel partners have the equal ability to sell the Carnival product at the same great rate.” Carnival’s added that its objective with this revision is to create a structure that provides travel agency partners with the assurance that the rates they quote won’t be undercut by competitors.
Carnival’s move follows other cruise lines’ efforts to counter rebating, the practice where a travel seller offers a further discount to customers using commission income or other bonuses to sweeten the deal. Crystal Cruises recently updated its policy to counter rebating, and Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises also have updated their anti-rebating policies.