P&O Cruises and Cunard parent Carnival UK will increase the basic rate of commission it pays agents to 7.5% from Monday.

The operator led the way in the cruise sector by reducing commission almost three years ago dropping it down to 5%, lower than rival lines have since gone down to.

The operator says the new commission structure has been designed to “recognise and reward” the contribution agents make to growing the cruise sector.

Chris Truscott, sales and distribution support director, said: “The new commission structure recognises the absolute value we place on agents who we believe are critical to our business.”

As well as the basic commission rate agents will be able to continue accessing additional earning opportunities through tailored agreements on co-operative marketing activity.

The reigning back from the controversial 5% rate comes after Carnival UK initiated its Agent Matters programme.

This has already seen enhancements to the operator’s trade relations like commission becoming payable on flights and a new fare structure to drive early sales.
“We listened, we promised and we have delivered,” said Truscott. “This signals a real step change in our relationship with the trade.

“Combined with our announcement of the construction of Britannia, the largest ship ever built specifically for the UK market, it demonstrates our continued commitment to the UK cruise industry and to cementing long term relationships with our trade partners for mutual benefit.

“Our Agent Matters survey in the summer revealed five key areas for attention. As a result, we now pay commission on our packaged flights to the Caribbean and Mediterranean, which now gives agents far more value per booking and gives us a competitive advantage.

“We have offered over 300 fam trips for agents, we have made our sales team far more accessible and we have introduced a simplified, transparent, easy to sell pricing policy.

“Commission was the last piece of the jigsaw and the new package reflects a mutually beneficial approach to agents for P&O Cruises and Cunard.”

P&O Cruises is offering Mediterranean fly/cruise holidays from Venice and Genoa for the first time this summer and Britannia will go on sale in the spring.

Cunard has a year of exclusive, special events planned to mark the 10th anniversary of Queen Mary 2.

Truscott added: “To recognise and reward is my New Year’s resolution.

“We all recognise the potential for newcomers to the cruise industry and as 2014 promises to be a fruitful one for our brands, we will do everything we can to reward our agent partners as we grow our business through the trade.”