Advantage has taken a tough stance on cruise commission cuts by dropping Norwegian Cruise Line as a preferred supplier.
The operator followed rival operator Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in slashing commission to 10% last year following market leader Carnival UK’s move to just 5%.
Advantage revealed in December it had agreed terms for 2013 with Royal Caribbean and it has also signed a deal with MSC Cruises, which also announced new reduced commission levels this week.
The Italian operator has tweaked commission, offering 10%-14% – down from 13%-16% – depending on season and product.
But Norwegian’s move to a flat 10% base rate has prevented a deal being reached with Advantage, although agreements are understood to have been struck with all other agency groups.
John McEwan, Advantage chief executive, said: “We have been unable to reach an agreement with NCL, but we are in constant dialogue with the cruise lines.
“It is up to our members whether they sell Norwegian based on the requirements of their customers, but it’s quite clear there is a lot of support for not selling Norwegian.”
Nick Wilkinson, Norwegian director of sales, said he still hoped a deal could be agreed: “The general response from the trade has been very positive to the position we have taken.
“There is still some tidying up to do and Advantage is one of those. Advantage is a great organisation with a great membership and we have had a good relationship with them over a number of years.”
Francis Riley, Norwegian general manager international, conceded smaller lines like Norwegian had less leverage over agents than their bigger rivals.
But he insisted that Norwegian’s new trade terms were allowing trade partners to earn more because they were no longer discounting to win the business.
He added that under the new terms agents were also able to supplement their earnings by engaging in certain activity like booking online or selling upfront gratuities.
McEwan said as a result of the decision Norwegian will not benefit from any central marketing support.
He said it was unusual that a supplier is taken off the preferred list but that the recent developments in the cruise sector had forced the consortium to act.
“We have great relations with our suppliers and have medium to long-term agreements with probably 80% of our partners.
“But we have seen the developments in cruise in the last 12 to 15 months and at the end of the day we have to have relationships that are mutually beneficial.
“We have that with the vast majority of the cruise lines, Norwegian is the exception.”
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