Alexandria, VA, April 15, 2016—A large percentage of members of the American Society of Travel agents (ASTA) are concerned about a commission policy put in place recently by Disney Cruise Line for clients who book a future cruise while on board, and are asking the company to reconsider its decision given the market share driven by agents.
In a survey conducted by ASTA more than five months after the policy was implemented, 93 percent of agents say they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned by the new policy, with 70 percent saying they are recommending or will recommend another cruise line whenever possible.
"Our agents will book what their clients specifically request, whether that is Disney or any other cruise line," said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. "However, travelers often rely on their trusted travel agent to guide them through their vacation choices, and because of the breadth and quality of cruise inventory available, agents have many alternatives to suggest."
According to the ASTA survey, 68 percent of agents say their customers are open to booking with cruise lines other than Disney. Only 2.5 percent said their customers would not be open at all to considering another cruise line.
At the end of October 2015, Disney reduced the commission paid to travel agents whose customers booked a future cruise while already on board one of its ships. The commission, previously as much as 16 percent, depending on an agent's sales volume, is now capped at 10 percent. ASTA members have expressed their concern over this new policy, which reduces the incentive for the most successful agents to steer consumers to Disney.
"This new policy actually caused one of our consortia partners—Virtuoso—to drop Disney as a preferred supplier after it enjoyed that status for 14 years," Kerby said. "We encourage Disney Cruise executives to reconsider this commission policy and reward their strongest sales representatives accordingly."
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.