We buy our cruises simply based on price! For us, we have found the service to be pretty uniform across the industry and our TAs are essentially order takers (we tell them which cruise, which cabin or category and they book).
That's okay advice for someone who knows the cruise industry, ships and other things. Personal service may make a big difference for clients with lesser knowledge of the industry. Your agents are order takers because that's all you need from an agent. There are many who are ONLY order takers and if a client needs direction or advice or just general information may be out of luck if they were to adopt your system for themselves. Not having great service because you simply don't need it is one thing. Needing it and not having it available is something entirely different. For a select few clients I am nothing more than an order taker myself. They have found in a cruiseline(s) what they like and shop simply for which ship or itinerary they want and call just to book it or shop it as well. Hank, you are among a very fortunate few in being this informed and prepared. Also for those who I know will have no loyalty if another service bought a block I don't happen to have to get a $50. pp onboard credit I have very little incentive to offer such amenities up front. They are the same clients who will have me change their sailing 3 times over such minor amenities, chasing promotions after booking. Just as an FYI, that means 6 times the work for your agent as each booking and then cancellation is double work. 3 bookings = 6 times the work to keep you happy with your ever-changing promotion/lowest price request.
Hank, please don't think I'm including you in my little rant from here. This portion refers to a very minor segment of the booking population. Some clients will request or demand a price match even after they have booked and such changes often can't be done by the cruiseline rules for any agency. That puts the booking agency and agent personally in a position to have to either have an angry client who may never book in the future if they don't get such a match or the agent and agency having to come out of pocket to appease the client. I have had to pay from my own pocket more than the earnings on a booking in the past. If I refuse (I do support my family from earnings, not losses) they can often go over my head and get it done without my consent. In such cases, I lose, not only the earnings but also customer satisfaction ratings that relate to bonuses and job security.
There is a difference between wise shopping and taking advantage of the system. Repeat clients are how businesses grow. Many agencies see a loss on an individual sailing to keep a long term client happy the cost of doing business. I agree with that philosophy for loyal clients who feel they're being unfairly treated occasionally. For those who consistantly manipulate such generous policies at thier agents expense I have no such sympathy. If the cruiselines rules allow the lowered pricing for existing bookings by all means, have your agent adjust it for you. If they don't allow it, you should not expect for your agent to supplement your vacation. The fact that weeks or months later, you see a lower price on a competitors site (or the same site for that matter) does not mean you're entitled to that lower rate. The cruiselines often have rules, an asterisk stating "*For New Bookings Only" is a big tip off. Some lines don't allow the rate adjusted after the penalty period. That bad news is not coming from your agent, it's coming from the cruiseline. Whoever your agent is, be kind. Simply call the cruiseline direct and verify if you have concerns.