In light of current economic conditions and the impact on travel agents, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises have created an extraordinary support program expressly designed to help agents offset today's business challenges. On the heels of suspending fuel supplements, the three brands today announced "ASAP," or Agent Support Action Program.
"This economic environment is unprecedented, and our travel agent partners need our unprecedented support," said Vicki Freed, Senior VP of Sales for Royal Caribbean International. "Like everyone, they are feeling the pain, and we need to help them through this."
The goal of ASAP is to help the agency community during this period and to encourage proactive activities that will not only help in these unique circumstances, but also ensure that agents emerge from the recession strong and prepared to take advantage of the upturn when it occurs.
"We're listening to our travel partners, and want to do all we can to offset the impact of the recession," said Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior VP of Sales for Celebrity and Azamara Cruises. "Everyone is feeling the pain, and we can't eliminate it altogether; but, we can help make it more bearable and show our appreciation for our agents who go the extra mile."
The three brands will maintain their ongoing consumer marketing efforts to drive more business to travel partners, and already have extensive, ongoing educational tools which will be enhanced through the new program. ASAP also will incorporate a series of special initiatives effective across all three brands for agencies in North America through the upcoming Wave period (January 1 through February 28, 2009), including:
• a 1 percent commission supplement on any cruise bookings for sailings from January 2009 through March 2010
• increased coop funding for qualifying agencies undertaking significant marketing plans
• a reduction in Tour Conductor credits, from 1-for-16 to 1-for-10, which will help agents earn more money while encouraging group bookings
• a 50 percent reduction in deposits for all FIT bookings
• an individual agent booking incentive through which agents can earn a complimentary cruise
"We will continue to pursue consumer-driven initiatives, as well, but this is a strategic attempt to help our long-term partners who have a short-term challenge," said Ritzenthaler.
"These are challenging times, but ours is a resilient business," added Freed. "We're committed to doing all we can to support our travel partners, and believe the attributes of ASAP will help drive more business and solidify their and our strategic positions."