Travel News » September 2009 » Top travel agent calls for an end to cruise holiday discounts

Top travel agent calls for an end to cruise holiday discounts


A senior travel agent has called on cruise lines to discourage other agents from selling its cruises at a discount.

Speaking at a travel conference this week, Julia Lo Blue-Said, a director of the travel agency consortium Advantage, said cruise lines should try to discourage agents from cutting prices, a habit which is eating into the profit margins of others.

Her comments came only days after a travel agency that sold only cruises collapsed with 4,000 customers on its books. Those who had bought cruises through Bolton-based Gillett Travel have been advised to contact ABTA, which protects holidays booked through member agencies.

In spite of Lo Blue-Said's comments, cruise lines are unlikely to stop discounting as price cuts have led to a huge rise in business over the past few years.

Luxury cruise liner Star Cruises said its bookings are up 30 per cent this year, due largely to early-booking offers. General manager Scott Anderson said: ""This (growth) is driven by the offers launched by the lines and people are realising that to get the best price and the best suite they need to book well in advance.""

Cruising is becoming more popular and the industry is expecting 12 per cent growth next year which considering the country is still in recession and cruising has traditionally been viewed as a luxury holiday only for the rich and elderly, is a major achievement.

Not all cruise lines are discounting to bring in the bookings but others are offering value-added deals such as cash-back to spend onboard, free excursions or access to VP airport lounges.

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