Cruise agents have criticised a decision by Complete Cruise Solution (CCS) to reduce commission payments to travel agents on cancelled bookings to 5% from this month.

In the last week, agents have received letters from CCS, which represents P&O Cruises, Cunard and Ocean Village, warning them of the lower commission for cancellations on all new bookings from October 1.

Cruise.co.uk chairman Andrew Gardner said: “We are upset about this and have asked CCS to reconsider.

“Agents spend marketing money upfront and take all the risk. Cancellations can be 5%-10% of all bookings, and most people cancel because of ill health. CCS is kicking agents when they are down.”

Reader Offers managing director Peter Beadles added: “I understand why Complete Cruise Solution is doing this, but for any reduction in commission is of concern.”

However, Gill’s Cruise Centre chairman Alisatir Gill welcomed the extra funds promised by CCS for marketing as a result of the commission saving. “We look forward to working with them to expand our business,” he said.

CCS sales and customer services director Giles Hawke defended the move as a way to reduce cancellation levels by encouraging agents to work harder to retain the booking, which is otherwise resold by the cruiseline at a lower price.

“This will encourage agents to fight harder to retain the booking. The saving we make will help fund other agent incentives,” he said.

He admitted the move may cause agents to rethink their discounting levels. “Agents need to decide how they will react in terms of any discounting they may offer customers,” he added.

Last year, CCS cut commission by 1% on 2009 bookings.