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Old 04-11-2016, 09:54 AM
R. Dale Flick R. Dale Flick is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573

*Agent % commissions/Steering clients*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
Jim & David, interesting reading your thinking on the above subject of 'Agent commissions,' 'Steering' potential cruise clients. Both right--to a point. Concept of paying 'agent commissions' goes way, way back to the beginning of travel services by early railroad, steamboat, steamships companies. Commission on, at times, a sliding scale. Early THOMAS COOK CO. in England one big mover--and I interned a year in their shipping office in Cincinnati while completing my graduate degree. I also recall a period when 'some' of our fellow DELTA QUEEN fans were in a tizzy over the commission rates paid by the company to agents; along with sentiments that travel agents, travel executives were being given preferred treatment aboat the boat. Ture and not true as that's how this business works. Again Betty Blake, upon hearing this, just scowled over her desk biting her cigarette filter, "To h--- with them," she barked. Yes, Jim Reising right in a posting a long while back here stating, "Most people would not have liked Betty Blake." My silent retort from experience was, "And Betty Blake didn't like most people [us] in return." The former GREENE LINE STEAMERS a pioneer in travel company individual and group bookings way, way back to the GORDON C. GREENE in tandem with the big CARTAN CO. with rail, bus, air connections to the GORDON and later DQ. Passenger auto were parked on the huge GREENE LINE wharboat under cover here for a nominal fee.

The travel agency industry considered "one of America's dying occupations" now with direct phoning, Internet booking etc. Professional agents don't "steer" clients other than showing options, asking about past cruise experience, time, budget. Some large companies in travel do hold or block groups of boat/ship cabins for sale often on a discount. I seriously doubt ACL would have independent agencies 'steering' anybody. It's an easy mistake with the name AMERICAN QUEEN and AMERICAN CRUISE LINE being linguistically close in names. Whether we like it or not, that's how it works. In my time back in the late 1960s the DELTA QUEEN was NOT represented by more than a few travel companies here considering the boat a "special, nodal market" with "an uneven history." OUCH! Clients were asked politely to "phone or write the DELTA QUEEN directly." In time, with the company reorganized, Betty worked for full national and international exposure with % commission rates increased, PR programs. The company also brought aboard then 'regional representatives' to travel servicing agencies with updates, literature, information. Most regional representatives now gone due to Internet communication--except for the very tip top luxury resorts, hotels, cruise boats and ships. I remember the day here when THOMAS COOK represented nearly all passenger cruise boats/ships around the world. Big cities like New York, Chicago etc. had offices with agents representing the major Atlantic/Pacific passenger and cargo shipping lines. I handled many a day CUNARD, FRENCH LINE, ITALIAN LINE, MATSON, UNITED STATES LINES, NORD GERMAN LINE, AMERICAN PRESIDENT LINES etc. And in the blink of any eye they were gone. For that reason I returned quickly to academia and school administration. A job is a job and believe me that there's nothing romantic being a travel agent or steamship representative.

In short the DQ--then and now--no different than any other 'product line' offered. It's a tough business competing for those 'disposable income' dollars for travel experiences. If you think the baby boomers are demanding then wait until you get a dose of these younger millenials coming up behind all of us. All of this angst over food, cabins, outside decks, tight weave bed linens, slippers, robes etc. part of the new trend in travel. If people don't like what is offered [Or don't want to pay the higher tariffs] then move on to another company. Whatever service, perk or luxury item you receive just remember you're paying for it one way or another. I think we all kid ourselves thinking that when the DQ is exempted, renovated and running, her cruise rates would be a return to the old days. Those days long, long gone. Again, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati
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