In response to a viewpoint agents shared with Cruise Week that it appears direct business has been growing over the years, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald told the publication:
"I don't know if that statement is accurate. What I do know is this: in the foreseeable future there's absolutely a place for the travel professional. We need them to have that place because we're not just selling a product, we're not just selling a thing, we're selling a real experience."
"A well-trained travel professional can make sure that a person gets the right experience for that point in time for whatever they're looking for--whether they're travelling with their parents, their kids, whatever it is," said Donald. "And calling us direct versus calling a travel agent doesn't save me a penny."
Donald notes that he's seen plenty of data showing that yields are higher with "the right mix" of direct and travel agent business than with direct alone.
"When you think about it, there are a lot of reasons that make a whole lot of sense. First, there's the guest experience. But the other thing is just mathematically we're going to make more money, even though there's a commission.”
He emphasizes the company is not trying to obtain a particular percentage of direct or agent business.
"But I watch it, because if somehow it trips to a certain level, then I will manage. That's because if we get too much direct, we're going to make less money. That's for real. So, I'm watching it. If it gets too much, we're going to have to do something. We haven't gotten there, thank goodness."