Cruise Companies Launch Promotions for National Travel Advisor Day

Windstar Cruises is now paying commission on all future cruise credits and has launched a popular agent promotion “Sell 3, Sail Free.” The company made the announcements for National Travel Advisor Day and National Travel and Tourism Week.

“Travel advisors have always been important partners of Xanterra Travel Collection,” said Xanterra and Windstar Cruises CEO Andrew Todd. “A few years ago, Windstar Cruises introduced Star Promise – our commitment to travel advisors. In keeping with that pledge, it is important to update our policy to recognize the hard work and support of our travel advisor partners.”

Windstar’s Travel Assurance Booking Policy already allows travelers to cancel their cruise up to 15 days before departure and receive a 100 percent future cruise credit to be used on all sailings through Dec. 31, 2021. Starting immediately, however, Windstar is changing its policy to pay agent commissions on all future cruise credits.

The “Sell 3, Sail Free” program, which will begin on May 18, awards a free cruise for two to agents who sell three fully deposited staterooms. The free cruise will have to be taken by April 30, 2021. Travel advisors will be confirmed 60 days out, based on availability, and will pay only taxes, fees, and port expenses, plus gratuities. For details on booking guests with Windstar, click here.

Here are other cruise line promotions announced for National Travel Advisor Day.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Waterways are offering a 2 percent bonus commission on all new river cruises booked by May 30, 2020, for travel in 2020 or 2021. Additionally, every travel advisor who books a river cruise will be entered into a giveaway – with one winner receiving a complimentary Scenic or Emerald river cruise. More details can be found here and here.

The bonus commission applies to the river cruise portion of a booking only, excluding port charges, land days and extensions, and do not apply to bookings made using a future cruise credit. Included in this offer are all river sailings in Europe, Mekong, Russia and Egypt. Dalmatia sailings are also included except those scheduled in 2021 on Emerald Azzurra.

Norwegian Cruise Line is offering prizes to bookings made through 6 p.m. ET May 6. A select number of travel partner bookings made through the Guest Services team will be eligible to win VIP packages or a $200 onboard credit. In addition, 10 travel partners will win $500 Amazon gift cards. From the 10 winners, three will be selected to win a Haven suite aboard a seven-day Norwegian cruise. The three winners will be announced via the Partners First Facebook page by NCL Chief Sales Officer Katina Athanasiou via Facebook Live at 8 p.m. ET.

Riviera River Cruises is offering an incentive to advisors and their clients for new bookings made between May 4 and May 8 for 2020 and 2021 European river cruises.

Advisors will receive a $100 gift card per cabin booked and their clients will receive a $100 shipboard credit per person booked.

“We’ve always supported the travel agency community, and this is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to advisors and their clients during these difficult times,” said Marilyn Conroy, Riviera River Cruises’ executive vice president-sales and marketing North America. “At Riviera, we’re the only cruise line that won’t accept bookings directly from consumers – instead, we turn them back over to advisors who work proactively with us and are located where the consumer lives. In due time, we’ll return to Europe’s rivers and waterways, and we hope to be the go-to cruise line for you and your clients when they’re able to travel again.”

The incentive does not apply to existing bookings being amended under the temporary flexible booking policy. For more information, click here.

MSC Cruises is protecting commissions and adding flexibility and resources. For National Travel Advisor Day, Ken Muskat, executive vice president and COO of MSC Cruises USA, released a video of interviews with travel advisors conducted earlier this year (before social distancing was the norm) to hear their perspective on what makes them successful as an advisor.

Last week, the company announced an extension of a temporary pause of cruises through July 10, 2020. MSC Cruises USA will protect commission for travel advisors on the original booking, plus advisors will earn full commissions on a rescheduled cruise that they book for their client.

For affected sailings, MSC Cruises USA will continue offering guests a full future cruise credit on the amount paid, plus an additional 25 percent toward a future cruise, on any ship and any itinerary, departing on or before Dec. 31, 2021.

The Cruise Assurance Program has been extended to Sept. 30, 2020, so booked guests can cancel or reschedule their reservations up to 48 hours before departure. Advisors can also take advantage of reduced $49 deposits through Sept. 30, 2020, and reduced single stateroom supplements at 150 percent from Aug. 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

Travel advisors are encouraged to join MSC Cruises’ next webinar on at 2-3 p.m. EDT May 13 with Michelle Lardizabal, senior vice president and commercial sales officer. She’ll share the love with advisors and discuss MSC Cruises’ programs and educational opportunities for the trade.

Travel advisors are encouraged to post a photo showing their favorite cruise destination to sell on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Tag MSC Cruises’ handles and use #TravelAdvisorDay and #MSCCruises, and they’ll have a chance to be featured on MSC Cruises’ social pages.

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Hotel Companies Lay Off, Furlough Thousands of Workers

Marriott International and other hotel companies are furloughing tens of thousands of workers amid plummeting occupancy rates stemming from travel bans and restrictions being imposed by governments worldwide to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

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According to The Wall Street Journal, about two-thirds of Marriott’s 4,000 corporate employees headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland and roughly two-thirds of its corporate employees overseas will be furloughed for 90 days starting in April.

The hotel giant hopes to bring staff back when travel demand resumes.

Competitors such as Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. have announced similar job cuts and furloughs as they’ve also been forced to shutter properties around the world amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Furloughed Hilton employees will be given access to other jobs, the company announced Monday and will continue receiving health benefits while also being able to file for unemployment.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Dallas, Texas-based Ashford Inc. will lay off or furlough a whopping 95 percent of its staff of 7,000 employees.

Last week, with massive cuts looming, executives of some of the world’s top hotel companies met with President Trump and other White House officials to seek urgent financial assistance for the industry. U.S. hotel companies are hoping to secure $150 billion in direct aid and an additional $100 billion in relief for suppliers such as recreation providers and retailers.

A message to Marriott International associates from President and CEO Arne Sorenson.

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