Carnival Cruise Lines, which gets some 70% of its sales from traditional travel agencies, began requiring them to carry out certain functions online only.
The development was reported in recent days by Travel Market Report and Travel Weekly.
Many traditional travel agencies rely on the phone channel for cruise bookings so the new Carnival policy, which began March 1, represents a major shift for Carnival, especially since certain online requests are now mandatory and not optional.
The line's travel agent partners still can do most things, including making client bookings, with Carnival over the phone, but the online-only functions include changing dining times, asking for booking confirmations, and requesting forms and options related to group and FIT reservations.
If this is an experiment for Carnival, the cruise industry will be watching it to see if the line extends its online-only requirements to wider areas.
Carnival Cruise Lines sent a letter to travel agents [see below] about the policy, which began March 1, and tied the change to the economic efficiencies of the online channel for certain functions and the desire to increase agent engagement with the line's portal, BookCCL.com.
Here is the letter:
Dear Travel Partner,
In many ways, 2009 was as challenging a year as most of us can remember. Although we were glad to have it come to a close for many reasons, we would be remiss if we didn't reflect on the fact that it was also a year full of opportunities and accomplishments.
The challenging economic circumstances that prevailed most of last year forced us to rethink the way we managed every aspect of our business. Along these lines, we are happy to report we have made great progress when it came to becoming more efficient in every area of our sales and contact center world. And, our research indicates that you, too, became more efficient and productive in managing your business. Your level of engagement with our e-channels has grown significantly, as has your confidence and ability to easily maneuver through BookCCL.com. Congratulations!
Our work is far from done and now that most of you can easily navigate your way through BookCCL, we are taking this opportunity to remind you of the upcoming policy changes announced last month that will continue to maximize use of our automation tools.
Effective March 1st, the following functions can only be performed online since our contact center will no longer handle these transactions.
* Extend options (Group & FIT staterooms)
* Request booking confirmations (Travel Agency & Guest Version)
* Request Group Booking reports (Group Detail Workup, Guest List,
Statement of Group Request)
* Change dining time
* Request Group Program Fee Form
If you're not already taking advantage of these easy to use online functions, let us show you how.
Click Here (https://www.na4.acrobat.com/_a836063406/sso_menu/) TO VIEW SOME QUICK "HOW TO" VIDEO TUTORIALS.
Should you need user support for any reason, simply send us an email at [deleted]
And, if you haven't done so already, go online, get registered and get booking! 2010 will be the year where we continue to work smarter, together!
Thank you for your continued support.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Asked about the changes, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen says:
"We find that our travel partners value efficiency and want quick, easy access to their reservations. Since last year, we have worked hard to increase agents’ level of awareness and engagement with BookCCL,com, our trade portal, and they have quickly come to embrace the many advantages it offers, like convenient access to their client’s reservations on a 24/7 basis.
"It makes sense for us to now migrate a number of basic reservations functions to online only so our call center team can remain available to support travel agents in closing sales and assisting with the more complex service issues, with the end goal being to provide even better service to our partners."
Gulliksens says CCL invested in enhancements to BookCCL.com and the portal has been experiencing record activity.
"This increase in online usage gave us the confidence to move forward in this direction," Gulliksen adds.