MSC’s new luxury line unveils ‘rolling’ agent commission structure

MSC Cruises’ new luxury brand will pay agent commission on the payment of a deposit, once a full balance is paid and also when add-ons are booked.

Explora Journeys’ three-stage commission structure means UK agents could feasibly receive 100% of their earned commission for the cruise elements of a booking next year – a year prior to the line’s maiden ship launching.

Explora Journey I will debut in May 2023, with the line’s remaining ships due to enter service in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Chief sales officer Chris Austin explained how agents could earn up to 18% commission from selling the yet-to-launch line’s cruises and up to 10% – if the agent is one of Explora’s preferred partners – for booking selected add-ons.

He said the earning opportunity with no non-commissionable fees (NCFs) was “probably worth more than 20%”.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, he said agents were “absolutely critical” to Explora and therefore he wanted the business “to be joyful to do business with”.

“We will pay commission on the receipt of the funds for deposits and then also on the receipt of those funds for final payment,” he said. “It is not a promotion. It is not something that is starting now and finishing in six weeks’ time. This is how we will operate.”

He called the scheme the “rolling commission payment programme”.

Austin added: “Travel advisors can start earning commission with us in 2021 and if you take advantage of Explora’s early booking benefit that’s a ‘pay in full’ (offer) you could earn 100% of the commission when the guest pays in full in 2021.”

Agents can also earn up to 10% commission for transfers, pre- or post-cruise hotel bookings and land experiences, with this commission paid after disembarkation, said Austin.

Austin said agents whose clients book on board would have their booking commission protected as well.

He added that “every” agent had a luxury customer. “All [agents] have the opportunity of supporting Explora Journeys and the luxury segment in general,” he insisted.

“People want to celebrate lifetime events. So you may have true affluents who can journey with us six times a year, you also may have a client where you ask the question ‘when are you celebrating a big birthday or a big wedding anniversary?’

“They may say in three or four years’ time and you say ‘I have the perfect idea, we’re going to celebrate with travel’, and that’s how you can turn every client into a luxury client.”

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