MSC Cruises is giving travel agents more flexibility when selling its product by introducing ‘options’ across all itineraries.

From May 18, trade partners will be able to secure cabins and flights on option for customers without the need to take a deposit and without commitment. Quotes will remain open for up to three days, depending on availability and departure date.

The line’s executive director UK and Ireland, Giles Hawke, said: “Opening up options is a new way of selling for us in the UK and Ireland – and one we believe will prove a real benefit for agents and their customers.

“By offering this facility, agents can strengthen their role as a trusted advisor and underline the value they bring to the sales process. Clients can secure the ship and cabin they want at a guaranteed price then go away to discuss it with family before making their final commitment.

“Having the booking on option means clients won’t see their preferred cabin sold or any price increases while they are making up their mind, which avoids any negative feedback for agents and gives them an extra weapon to secure bookings.

“It should also cut down on cancellations and allows agents to ensure customers have all information to hand when they do confirm their booking.”

Agents will be able to create options via the company’s trade booking portals – MSCBook in the UK and MSC Online in Ireland – or via the contact centre. Customers will receive an email explaining how long the quote is valid for.

On sailings up to 30 days from departure the option is valid until the end of the day it is taken; for sailings up to 60 days out the option is valid for one additional day; and for sailings more than 60 days out it is valid for two additional days. After this time the option will automatically expire and be deleted from the booking system.

The move is the latest in a series of trade-focused initiatives introduced to make life easier and more profitable for agents.

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