Starting January 1, 2023, Norwegian Cruise Line will pay travel advisors commission on non-commissionable fares for most reservations of sailings departing May 1, 2023 and beyond. The move by NCL is the first for any major contemporary cruise line.
“Our Partners First philosophy remains top of mind, and our decision to pay commission on NCFs is further proof of our commitment to this community,” said NCL president and CEO Harry Sommer. “We want our partners to thrive; we want to see their business grow all around the world.”
When asked what part of the fare counts as an NCF, Todd Hamilton, senior vice president of sales for NCL would only say, “Historically in the industry, NCFs are a portion of the cruise fare that was non-commissionable and an untouchable piece of our business.”
He added that non-commissionable fares are not government taxes or port fees.
When asked why it’s taken so long for a contemporary cruise line to take this step, Hamilton told TMR he can’t speak for other cruise lines. “But the very high cost of doing this could be considered prohibitive,” adding that NCL sees the move as an evolution of the brand.
The payment of NCFs will go into effect on January 1, 2023 for new reservations — of sailings departing May 1, 2023 and beyond — made outside of final payment (120 days prior to sailing).
“We want to incentivize the travel partners to book business that is beneficial to all involved,” said Todd Hamilton, senior vice president of sales for NCL, explaining the decision to only include bookings made outside of final payment.
“By booking farther out, the guests have higher guest satisfaction, the guest is more likely to book their next vacation with the same travel advisor and the guest is more likely to rebook with NCL. We also know that guests that book further out are less price sensitive and have the time to truly research and plan their vacation experience. This makes them an easier guest to service for the travel advisor and helps set the correct expectations once they arrive to the ship.”
How to Qualify
Advisors will not automatically receive commissions on NCFs. To qualify, travel advisors need to submit a marketing plan through Norwegian Central by December 31, 2022.
Because, at its core, NCL sees itself as a marketing organization, it places a high value on a market-to-fill strategy and is asking advisors to follow its lead.
“To qualify for the NCF commission and take advantage of this amazing opportunity to earn more, we are asking all agencies to submit a marketing plan to show us how they plan to grow their business,” Hamilton said.
“The marketing plan is a way for us to work in partnership with the travel partners to find the best ways to generate demand for our mutual business,” he added. “They can also lean on their Business Development Manager for any support, suggestions, and advice.”
Once submitted, advisors should continue to work with their BDM to evolve their plan.
“We view this as a great first step to market our product,” Hamilton said. “This should be an ongoing dialogue to continuously find incremental opportunities to partner with NCL.”
Hosted independent consultants do not need to submit a marketing of their own, as this should be done at the host agency level.