Sublime Travel allows agents to keep 10% of deposit as 'advance' commission payment

Luxury tour operator Sublime Travel is allowing travel agents to keep 10% of clients’ deposits as an “advance” commission payment.

The unusual move is designed to give agents some much-needed cashflow during the difficult winter months ahead as well as boost bookings for the operator.

Normally agents only receive the commission owed on a booking from the tour operator when the client pays the balance, or departs on holiday.

Sublime sells upmarket four and five star holidays, ranging in price from £3,000 up to £500,000. The operator organises travel for many celebrities, musicians and royalty and around 80% of its business comes from agents.

Managing director Lynne Rogers said it was important that companies helped each other out in the current crisis, particularly as many agents were taking bookings for 2021 but not yet earning any money on those sales.

She came up with the idea after sourcing a competitive price for a trip to the Maldives for an independent travel agent, which resulted in scores more enquiries for the same deal, but all for late 2021.

She said: “It’s about sharing and trying to get through at the moment. Agents are my core business and I thought it was so unfair [that agents cannot earn money now on bookings for 2021].”

Rogers said she would also be happy for agents to keep the 10% deposit payment even if the holiday is later cancelled.

“If it’s a genuine booking and cancellation, they can keep it. We are talking £50 on a £500 deposit. Hopefully this will generate more business and in turn help more agents,” said Rogers.

The policy, which started this week, applies to standard rate bookings made until Christmas. If successful, it may be continued into next year, added Rogers.

“If it works well I will try and help them next year, we’ll see what happens,” she said.

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