'It's a pretty huge impact to the commission tiers,' Carnival's Adolfo Pérez, vp trade sales, told Seatrade Cruise News. 'It definitely puts us in a more competitive position. If it's now easier for agents to make more money with Carnival, we hope it will encourage them to push more to reach that higher tier.'
To achieve the 11% pay level, agents will now have to rack up just 40 sailed cabins in a calendar year, down from 50, or a 25% reduction, while 12% requires 75 cabins instead of 100; 13%, 125 cabins, down from 200; and 14%, 175 cabins instead of 300. For 15% commission, the number of sailed cabins goes to 250, down from 400.
The revamped pay structure is applicable to new bookings made starting Jan. 1.
The change is based on extensive input from agents during Carnival Conversations events over the past two years and from business development managers and the senior sales leadership. It has been the top priority for Pérez, a Carnival veteran who took over the vp trade sales role in June, and his team.
Describing the change as 'a flagship one,' Pérez said: 'It's the biggest one so far, but more stuff is to come.'
'It’s great that Carnival is listening to and working with travel agents to incentivize agents to earn higher commissions faster through its new commission tier program,' said Vicky Garcia, chief operating officer of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative.
'The brand has made efforts to recognize the value travel agents bring to the company’s bottom line, which is a step in the right direction in terms of the competitive landscape,' Garcia added, noting: 'It's obvious Carnival has re-prioritized agent relationships and this trend should continue to keep the brand top of mind for travel agents.'
The new pay structure doesn't affect big partners like Cruise Planners, since their volume means they already earn the highest levels of commission. Still, Garcia said Cruise Planners agents actively participate in Carnival Conversations so it's good to know the line is listening.
Carnival’s commission program will continue to follow the sailed cabin approach, incentivizing agents based on how many cabins they sell that subsequently sail.
'Our goal was to make the new program meaningful and impactful and to build upon the many initiatives we’ve implemented over the past two years,' said Mike Julius, Carnival’s senior managing director of US trade sales. He added the line has worked with hundreds of travel partners through Carnival Conversations and one-on-one dialogue to 'understand what is important to them to make sure that we got this right.
'We believe the new program is a real game changer for us and will put additional commission dollars in the pockets of our valued travel agent partners,' Julius said.
The Carnival sales team will be launching a sales support blitz through the end of the year to share the commission program specifics and help agents be positioned to take advantage of the new tiers at the start of 2016. This support program will include webinars, office visits and updates during Carnival Conversations events.
It's particularly important that Carnival business development managers go out and identify agents near the tier thresholds to encourage them to advance and that those agents work with their BDMs to take advantage of the lower sales thresholds, Pérez said.
The support blitz will kick off with a podcast hosted by Pérez, which will debut featured on GoCCL.com beginning today.