Old April 29th, 2015, 09:49 AM
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Default No Last Minute Discounts

I was listened to the Frommer Travel show, they mentioned that Royal will no longer offer last minute discounts saying that it cheapens the product, or something like that.

Are bookings that strong, or would they rather sail with empty cabins? I suppose they can offer other incentives besides lower booking rates.

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Old April 29th, 2015, 02:25 PM
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You'll see less and less of these 'last minute specials' that use to be very prevalent in the past. When they do offer them, they're almost always for a select group, such as seniors or residents.

This actually began about 2 years ago when Carnival started with not allowing repricing of a reservation after final payment was made. Use to be, if a special was offered that lowered the rate you paid, they would allow us to get the lower rate - some cruise lines provided a refund, while others gave the difference as onboard credit. When they changed this policy, others started to follow suit. Before this change, we could get these reductions even up to the day before the cruise and sometimes you could walk up to the counter the day of the cruise and get a good rate. As we all know, it's not the purchasing of a cruise that makes the cruise lines money, their profit is based on what people spend on the cruise.

So, you have passengers paying one rate and then those who waited after the final payment due date for any last minutes specials, would sometimes get a lower rate. Obviously, this made those who booked earlier very irritated, to say the least. They would sit down at dinner with strangers and find out they paid hundreds of dollars less for a higher level cabin. Not good for public relations. Plus, the logistics of trying to plan on how many last minute bookings may or may not occur plays havoc with their planning on supplies and services.

But the main reason they're doing away with these last minute specials is simply because there are less cabins available last minute than there use to be. This is not only caused by the fact cruising has become more popular and more affordable than ever before, but also because computer programs have become more sophisticated.

The cruise lines have gotten very good at statistical analysis that keep track of everything and they're able to constantly monitor sales. If sales are lacking, then they will either offer a special or lower the rates. Since this is usually done months in advance, we're able to get the special or lower rate for those already booked, which makes them happy, and book new guests who were waiting to see if the price dropped.

Of course, if sales are doing well, then they may cancel any current specials or raise the rate, so it's a two-way street.

Yes, to some degree these last minute specials do affect public relations, as I mentioned earlier, and this is obviously something they want you to believe is the main reason for the change. In reality, the bottom line is the cruise lines are changing because it's all about the numbers game, which as I said, has become extremely sophisticated compared to years past.

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Old April 29th, 2015, 05:02 PM
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The fact being, that they are building new ships all the time....their ships are sailing just about full...so that says a lot.

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Old April 29th, 2015, 09:40 PM
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This Frommer's story came from comments Richard Fain made a couple weeks ago. To summarize what he said: the last minute sale market is usually quite small, they are willing to sail with empty cabins, and one reason for ending the sales is they were causing too much anger among loyal guests who booked early and then were getting screwed by seeing the same cabin category they had booked handed off to a last-minute booking for a cheap price. And, RCI is tired of dealing with all the hassles involved with it.

Now, Fain DID use some weasel words. He said it wouldn't necessarily affect the short cruise market in every case (he said "2 to 5 day cruises"), and he also used cutoff times of 30, 20, and 10 days out from a cruise before they locked down the prices, with the idea being the longer the cruise the farther out they'd lock the prices.
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