Carnival UK takes cautious line on brand bidding ban

Carnival UK will assess how a move in the US to prevent agents bidding on its brand names impacts on agent business before deciding whether to follow suit.

From January 1 agents in the US have been prevented from bidding on Carnival Corp brand names as part of new rules it is hoped will bring down the cost of pay-per-click advertising on Google.

While Travel Weekly in the US has reported some agents were unhappy with the move it said others supported the change because it levelled the playing field with large retailers.

Because of the cost of advertising on brand search terms, like Princess Cruises or Holland America, and poor conversion rates only a handful of US agents are thought to be able to afford to do it.

Carnival UK sales director Giles Hawke told Travolution the UK market was different but the impact in the US would be a key factor in any decision to bring in the new rules in here.

“We will not make a decision 100% based on that, but we will keep an eye on it,” he said. “If it damages agent business, then it damages cruise line business as well.”

Hawke said the agreement in the US is that while agents agree not to bid on brand names, lines have reigned back on bidding on terms that agents often use to entice customers like “cheap cruises”.

“What’s happening in the US, and we are seeing it here in the UK, is the more people bidding the higher the cost and it puts the price up for everybody.
“Why should Carnival Cruise Line be paying more for its name? “

Two years ago, in a bid to reduce the cost of advertising on Google, Complete Cruise Solution, the trade marketing  arm for Carnival UK, sought to restrict bidding on its brands to a handful of agents.

This was when Google allowed brand “trademarking”, something it subsequently changed meaning anyone could bid on terms like P&O Cruises, Cunard and Ocean Village.

Hawke said: “We will watch and see what happens in the US and how it impacts on business and if it does not at all for agents and cruise lines we will fairly quickly look at how we can implement something in the UK.”

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