Same company, different name, address, phone number

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Sep 19, 2015
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#1
There are many cruising websites which are identical in format even though the name, address, phone numbers are different. How do you eliminate this duplication? Which websites do you consider the best?
 

Carol Phillips

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#2
There are many cruising websites which are identical in format even though the name, address, phone numbers are different. How do you eliminate this duplication? Which websites do you consider the best?
You're talking about cruise booking websites, right?

There are systems that can be purchased for website online booking functionality. Many small agencies or "outside" sales reps do this in order to have a decent web presence. They're like templates. All these sites will resemble each other ... it's affordable to the agent that way and all they have to do is enter their specific info.

As to which websites I consider the best ... I cannot answer that.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#4
You need to make sure you are looking at the official website for the cruise line. Some travel agencies try to scam consumers by developing look alike sites using the cruise lines names.

Official pages are usually not among the first to come up in searches. Cp explained it well. Its a scam.
 
Sep 1, 2015
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KSNA
#5
You're right, many sites look alike and the providers range from very reputable to borderline scams. I've personally had good results from a site with "compete" in the name. You enter the cruise(s) you're interested in and they put it out for bid with participating OTA's. The site is very focused on quality of the vendors. You receive quotes via email (you're anonymous to the vendors); when you see one of interest, contact the vendors with the quote #.

I've had very good luck with one of their vendors using the word "skyscraper" in their name....they proactively went "above and beyond" to resolve a problem that wasn't their fault.

There are many good travel agents if you are unsure of online booking, your trip has a lot of moving parts, or want face-to-face interaction. TA's run the gamut like any occupation...do some "home study", then interview an agent whos personally cruised a lot and knows their stuff. Ideally they or a colleague have been on the ship (or a sister ship) you're interested in, and been to the ports.

The Cruise Critic forums have a lot of comments and info on various OTA's and websites.
 
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bodega3

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#6
Just a FYI, agencies or agents that provide pricing on those compete sites are desperate for business and be sure you are vetting these companies before giving them any payments.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#7
knigskr, there just isn't any reason to book with anyone but an experienced travel agent or directly with the cruise line ... booking direct is fine if you have lots of experience and are willing to do ALL the research. Otherwise, get an agent. The internet is a free-for-all and any monkey can hire the kid next door to put up a website. You'll not save much and the problems can be huge. TAs are paid by the cruise lines, so why would you want to book anywhere else?
 
#8
Find out what the cruise line charges for the booking.
Find your favorite el cheapo booking agent on the web . ..same price? $25 less?

Call around to a few real brick and mortar travel agents- have them price it for you- then ask 'what they can do no one else can. . . .'

You may be a cabin upgrade - [really nice]

You may get a $100/pp cabin credit. [you'll spend it, regardless]

You may get a nice welcome gift. [ok, thats nice too]

And you ALWAYS have someone who knows someone in the customer service department at the cruise lines they have built a relationship who can fix problems. [priceless]

Don't book a cruise online.
 
Sep 1, 2015
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#9
Agree and disagree with the previous posts. There are excellent OTAs and brick/mortar TAs, but they are unfortunately difficult to find; TAs and OTAs are both full of inexperienced "ticket mills". That said, two OTAs have saved me significant money while providing better upgrades, credits, and perks than my local TA (a cruise specialist). With an OTA you must know what you want, they are not going to hold your hand like a quality TA will. Also, I rarely do the cruiseline's shore excursions...TAs dislike that (less profit for them).
Sort of like redoing your kitchen- you can hire a designer/contractor, or save a lot of money DIY (but you better know what you're doing and be willing to put in the effort). But saying one should always hire a contractor while badmouthing Home Depot isn't true in all cases.
 
#10
Agree and disagree with the previous posts. There are excellent OTAs and brick/mortar TAs, but they are unfortunately difficult to find; TAs and OTAs are both full of inexperienced "ticket mills". That said, two OTAs have saved me significant money while providing better upgrades, credits, and perks than my local TA (a cruise specialist).
so who are they?
 

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#11
Agree and disagree with the previous posts. There are excellent OTAs and brick/mortar TAs, but they are unfortunately difficult to find; TAs and OTAs are both full of inexperienced "ticket mills". That said, two OTAs have saved me significant money while providing better upgrades, credits, and perks than my local TA (a cruise specialist). With an OTA you must know what you want, they are not going to hold your hand like a quality TA will. Also, I rarely do the cruiseline's shore excursions...TAs dislike that (less profit for them).
Sort of like redoing your kitchen- you can hire a designer/contractor, or save a lot of money DIY (but you better know what you're doing and be willing to put in the effort). But saying one should always hire a contractor while badmouthing Home Depot isn't true in all cases.
Just need to say: the vast majority of major cruise lines pay 0% commission to the agent on shore excursions and extras such as specialty dinners, beverage packages, wine packages, etc booked in advance.
 
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bodega3

Guest
#12
Agree and disagree with the previous posts. There are excellent OTAs and brick/mortar TAs, but they are unfortunately difficult to find; TAs and OTAs are both full of inexperienced "ticket mills". That said, two OTAs have saved me significant money while providing better upgrades, credits, and perks than my local TA (a cruise specialist). With an OTA you must know what you want, they are not going to hold your hand like a quality TA will. Also, I rarely do the cruiseline's shore excursions...TAs dislike that (less profit for them).
Sort of like redoing your kitchen- you can hire a designer/contractor, or save a lot of money DIY (but you better know what you're doing and be willing to put in the effort). But saying one should always hire a contractor while badmouthing Home Depot isn't true in all cases.
FYI: Agents don't get paid for the cruiseline's shore excursions.
 
#14
Just need to say: the vast majority of major cruise lines pay 0% commission to the agent on shore excursions and extras such as specialty dinners, beverage packages, wine packages, etc booked in advance.
of course they don't - so you wait until you are on board and you negotiate. I had having to negotiate everywhere - but it is possible to do so.

Part of this post is deleted - my last cruise was years ago and the negotiating practice I spoke about has been banned and can get the employee fired- so - deleted. ...
 
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Sep 1, 2015
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#15
Joe, I alluded to one OTA name in my earlier post (have to look up the other). I've booked 2 cruises through each, and let the local TA quote it too. If posting the names meets the terms of service for these forums, I will look up the other and post their names.

I'm not going to start a debate TAs vs. OTAs. (FYI, I have no interest or agenda in the travel industry, other than a consumer). There's pros and cons to both, and consumers need to know what those are. Implying an OTA is a guaranteed recipe for problems or all TAs provide expert, unparalleled service isn't true. I have family and friends I would never send down the OTA path.

I wasn't aware of the 0% commission on cruise add-ons (learned something!) but both TAs I engaged were not enthusiastic about a cruise-only booking. I agree Cruise Critic has a lot of bad info...it's a good resource for cruiser's experience with TA's and OTA's (both good and horrible)
 
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bodega3

Guest
#16
Joe, I alluded to one OTA name in my earlier post (have to look up the other). I've booked 2 cruises through each, and let the local TA quote it too. If posting the names meets the terms of service for these forums, I will look up the other and post their names.

I'm not going to start a debate TAs vs. OTAs. (FYI, I have no interest or agenda in the travel industry, other than a consumer). There's pros and cons to both, and consumers need to know what those are. Implying an OTA is a guaranteed recipe for problems or all TAs provide expert, unparalleled service isn't true. I have family and friends I would never send down the OTA path.

I wasn't aware of the 0% commission on cruise add-ons (learned something!) but both TAs I engaged were not enthusiastic about a cruise-only booking. I agree Cruise Critic has a lot of bad info...it's a good resource for cruiser's experience with TA's and OTA's (both good and horrible)
A cruise only booking for what we call bottom feeder rates isn't what many agents want to deal with. We charge for shopping a rate for you if you are not a regular.
 
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Carol Phillips

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Staff Member
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Dec 28, 2014
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Coastal South Carolina
#17
Joe, I alluded to one OTA name in my earlier post (have to look up the other). I've booked 2 cruises through each, and let the local TA quote it too. If posting the names meets the terms of service for these forums, I will look up the other and post their names.

I'm not going to start a debate TAs vs. OTAs. (FYI, I have no interest or agenda in the travel industry, other than a consumer). There's pros and cons to both, and consumers need to know what those are. Implying an OTA is a guaranteed recipe for problems or all TAs provide expert, unparalleled service isn't true. I have family and friends I would never send down the OTA path.

I wasn't aware of the 0% commission on cruise add-ons (learned something!) but both TAs I engaged were not enthusiastic about a cruise-only booking. I agree Cruise Critic has a lot of bad info...it's a good resource for cruiser's experience with TA's and OTA's (both good and horrible)
As you have said, all agents aren't built alike. 95% of what I sell is cruise-only. Sure, a higher price cruise earns more commission than the lowest of the low, but the agent has the opportunity to dazzle you with service and earn your future business. At least, that's my theory.

It's important to differentiate between others' opinions and facts. Especially people you do not know personally and things one reads online. For example: I've had people say they don't want Cruise Line ABC because they've heard the food's not good. Food is subjective. Cabin size isn't. Take opinions with a grain of salt.


Even this one :)
 
Sep 1, 2015
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#18
A cruise only booking for what we call bottom feeder rates isn't what many agents want to deal with. We charge for shopping a rate for you if you are not a regular.
I try to support local, small businesses and wouldn't go the OTA route for just a few dollars. There's no shopping effort required by the brick and mortar since I know exactly what I want (down to the category and deck). But if TAs dislike customers making a cruise-only purchase (usually higher deck veranda, BTW), that's good insight. Sounds like OTAs are less effort for all concerned when that's the case and I shouldn't engage a TA when my purchase is clear and simple.

Are you allowed to reveal typical commission on a $4000 cruise booking? (Just curious, no worries if you'd rather not)
 

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#19
.

Are you allowed to reveal typical commission on a $4000 cruise booking? (Just curious, no worries if you'd rather not)
It is important to note that not all elements of a $4000 sale are commissionable. Portions are not. Other portions are at a different commission level. And agency commissions have a range depending on the amount of business an agency produces for the cruise line. It varies as to which cruise line they are booking.

Agencies generally do not discuss their commission level. I WILL say, however, when I first learned what commissions ran, I was very very surprised at how low they were.
 
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Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#20
Agree and disagree with the previous posts. There are excellent OTAs and brick/mortar TAs, but they are unfortunately difficult to find; TAs and OTAs are both full of inexperienced "ticket mills". That said, two OTAs have saved me significant money while providing better upgrades, credits, and perks than my local TA (a cruise specialist). With an OTA you must know what you want, they are not going to hold your hand like a quality TA will. Also, I rarely do the cruiseline's shore excursions...TAs dislike that (less profit for them).
Sort of like redoing your kitchen- you can hire a designer/contractor, or save a lot of money DIY (but you better know what you're doing and be willing to put in the effort). But saying one should always hire a contractor while badmouthing Home Depot isn't true in all cases.
TA's do NOT get any commission when you book the cruise lines shore excursions. Only the cruiseline keeps all that money.

TA's do have other avenues for excursions that will be less expensive than the cruise line shore excursions for the client. The prices of the excursions piss US off too and we never book excursions with the cruise lines either.