MIAMI — If we needed any proof that Virgin Voyages really does want to work with travel agents, here it is: the cruise line is offering a base commission of 10% and says it will eliminate non-commissionable fees (NCFs).
The end of NCFs means agents can earn on everything, says Virgin. The cruise line’s first ship, the Scarlet Lady, sets sail in 2020 with three more ships on the way, all geared to an adults-only market. Agent registration opened Dec. 31, 2018 on FirstMates.com, Virgin’s dedicated online platform for travel sellers.
Virgin says its base ticket prices include all food, basic beverages, workout classes, gratuities and more, with 10% commission on the entire transaction.
The cruise line says its sales strategy “was built from research conducted with travel professionals and potential Sailors with the specific aim of abolishing long-standing pain-points.”
The company confirmed the elimination of NCFs and says it’s banishing nickel-and-diming from passengers.
“You asked us to work with you to build a strong partnership, so we’re excited to announce one of the most rewarding travel partner programs ever created,” says Tom McAlpin, President and CEO of Virgin Voyages. “We are committed to delivering an ‘Epic Sea Change’ by getting rid of the things that annoy you and offering incredible value and experiences for your clients.”
No part of a booking with Virgin Voyages is non-commissionable, so agents will earn across their client’s entire transaction, he added. This includes all add-ons like flights, hotel stays, voyage protection, ‘Shore Things’ (shore excursions), spa treatments, any premium package, ‘Sailor Loot’ (onboard credits) and even taxes and fees.
“While the debate is often about this percent versus that one, the underlying issue travel professionals have is not being compensated for their hard work on the entire sale. With Virgin Voyages you will be,” says Stacy Shaw, Vice President of Sales for Virgin Voyages.
“With our combination of premium pricing that includes so much more, no NCFs and the ability to earn on everything you sell, total dollars earned on every sale with us will be more. Percentages don’t matter, total dollars do.”
Consistent with its aim for no nickel and diming, Virgin Voyages unveiled further details on its value proposition for ‘Sailors’ (passengers) including abolishing a major pain point for consumers – gratuities.
The base ticket fare for all Virgin Voyages sailings “will be incredible value for Sailors with all eateries, group fitness classes, basic beverages and now gratuities in the voyage fare,” says the company. “These things are always included and not tied to a short-term promotion.”
With a more inclusive ‘Rebellious Luxe’ experience, agents have the opportunity to sell voyages based on the total value proposition rather than price and to reach a new client base, which translates to more commission earned.
Continuing with the ‘Epic Sea Change’, Virgin Voyages also confirmed that it is eliminating penalties and change fees.
Booking policies have been designed to appeal to passengers who are serious about sailing but also offer flexibility after booking.
Passengers and agents can hold cabins for 24 hours with no money down. Once they’ve placed a 20% non-refundable deposit, they’ll have a grace period of seven days where they may change their mind for any reason at all. Passengers and agents may also change voyage dates and names on bookings without penalties or fees.
Virgin Voyages is introducing a base commission of 10% on the entire transaction, with nothing held back or excluded.
In addition, all agents or affiliated organizations can earn a ‘Red Hot Bonus’ paid annually on sailed revenue up to an additional six percent if they meet certain production thresholds.
“We’re giving 10 a makeover. Our First Mates asked us for something simple and they’ll be able to earn more total dollars on every transaction with Virgin Voyages. So it simply isn’t the same old 10, we call that ‘The Perfect 10,’” said Shaw.
FirstMates.com is currently registering travel agencies and individual travel sellers to do business with Virgin Voyages in advance of the company opening voyages for bookings on Feb. 14.
Beginning Feb. 5, FirstMates.com will offer all of the tools needed for agents to become immersed in everything Virgin Voyages has to offer including downloadable digital and in-store marketing materials, interactive learning materials and more.
All individual agents who register to do business with Virgin Voyages before Feb. 14, will have the opportunity to enter to win afternoon tea with Sir Richard Branson. Agents must opt in to sweepstakes by 11:59 EST on Feb. 13 to qualify.
Virgin Voyages will also host an immersive learning campaign beginning Feb. 6 called Cabin Fever, which will help agents learn about cabins and RockStar suites, a key product differentiator.
Any agency or individual seeking assistance with registration from Virgin Voyages’ Sales Crew can reach out at FirstMates@virginvoyages.com or by call 1-833-VVSAILS.