Signature Travel Network is ending its preferred supplier relationship with Carnival Cruise Lines. As of Jan. 1, Carnival content feeds will be shut off from Signature websites used by its travel agencies.
“The rationale is simply that the elements that make up a preferred supplier relationship just weren’t there,” Signature COO Alex Sharpe told TravelPulse.com in an email. “They have level-set all of their policies on co-op, commissions, etc., so there just weren’t elements that were ‘preferred’ for Signature. We mutually agreed this was the best move. Carnival has built an incredible brand that has introduced many people to this great cruise industry. We remain committed to our preferred supplier relationships with their sister brands -- Princess, Holland America Line and Seabourn -- and to selling the very best vacation experiences to our customers.”
Carnival said it remains committed to the travel agent community. “We learned Monday [Dec. 3] that Signature Travel Network had decided to change our preferred status with them. While we are disappointed in their decision we respect their position,” said a statement from Joni Rein, vice president of worldwide sales for Carnival. “Carnival remains committed to supporting a healthy travel agent distribution, as we have demonstrated in our commitment to travel agents for over 40 years. We also remain dedicated to helping travel agents grow their businesses efficiently and continue to demonstrate our commitment to travel agents through a number of key initiatives.
“These initiatives include a variety of programs we’ve launched over the last two years such as the development of a cruise rookie acquisition platform that nearly 20,000 U.S. travel agents have now seen, and the launch of the cruise industry’s only travel agent rewards program with over 18,000 travel agents currently enrolled. We also have significantly invested in tools and training to support travel agent technology and will continue to do so in 2013.”
Carnival has made a number of decisions lately that have upset some travel agents. Effective Dec. 3, Carnival changed its fare codes, which didn’t sit well with some agents who thought the new system would complicate the selling process while adding some non-refundable change fees and fares. The line also changed its commission tiers effective Jan. 1, which some agents said will mean they have to sell more Carnival to maintain its current commission level.
For more information on Carnival Cruise Lines, visit Carnival Cruise Lines.