Thursday, 4 September 2014

Travel agents seek details on Norwegian-Prestige merger

Travel agents seek details on Norwegian-Prestige merger

Norwegian EpicNorwegian Cruise Line moved up its regular Wednesday webinar by one day this week to address the agent implications of its $3 billion acquisition of Prestige Cruise Holdings.

Agents listening to the webinar asked Norwegian’s executive vice president, Andy Stuart, and Prestige President Kunal Kamlani about its effect on commissions, about how the loyalty programs will be handled and whether they will see a cheapening of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises to make the acquisition produce financial savings.

Both said several times that it will be “business as usual” for agents and consumers. “In our minds, it all starts with the clients,” Kamlani said.

On commissions, Kamlani said there are no plans in the next three months to change commissions for 2015. He said this is the traditional time of year to review agency agreements but that nothing should change because of the merger. “It is business as usual,” he reiterated.

The two executives said that how or whether to make Norwegian’s past guest loyalty benefits available to Oceania and Regent cruisers, and vice versa, was high on the list of things to consider but no decisions have been made.

Kamlani said in response to a question that he doesn’t expect to begin offering solo cruise rates after the merger. “We probably would never measure very well on that metric,” he said.

A question about merger savings hurting product quality at the Prestige brands drew a strong response from Kamlani.

“That travesty will not occur on any of our watches of anyone involved in this transaction. That’s as direct as I can be,” he said.