Avalon Waterways plans to increase commission in a bid to appeal to agents who have been left out in the cold by rival river line Viking Cruises.
Last month, at least three leading cruise agencies said they had had their commission slashed and a further two said they had been cut off commercially by the operator.
In response, Avalon chief Giles Hawke tweeted: “[Avalon Waterways] would be delighted to work with affected agents. [We have a] great trade sales team, strong commissions, fantastic product and unswerving support for agent partners.”
Hawke later told Travel Weekly: “Every cruise line and tour operator chooses to do what makes sense for them. We will do what we need for our business, and that is working with travel agents.
“We are talking to agents about commission levels and making sure they are hugely competitive. We’re looking to up our commission on our cruise product.”
Avalon’s trade sales account for 55% of sales, up from 45% in 2016.
Hawke praised Viking for raising awareness of river cruise among customers through its advertising, such as in national newspapers, but added: “I think our level of quality is above the Viking offering.”
He said agents “have a lot of alternative” river cruise lines to sell.
Other lines stressed the importance of the trade in driving sales.
Jamie Loizou, AmaWaterways sales, marketing and digital director, said: “AmaWaterways has grown significantly over the last three years and the trade is absolutely integral to that. I have regularly seen cruise lines cutting commission and then coming back to the trade. That is not a sustainable way of working.”
A-Rosa’s UK boss, Lucia Rowe, said the trade was of “paramount importance” to the line’s growth plans.
Viking said it reviews all partnerships “on a regular basis”.
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