Royal Caribbean Group’s ‘Pay it Forward’ program, offering its retail partners three-year, interest-free loans of up to US$250,000, launched this week in the U.S. and within a short time will be available to Canadian advisors and agency owners.
Royal announced the program in late DEC, saying it was making a USD $40-million pool of funds available to qualifying travel advisors to help them “keep their businesses focused on a return to growth.”
“The ‘Pay it Forward’ loan program was just launched in the U.S. and we expect it to launch in Canada within a week or two,” Allan Brooks, Director of Market Sales in Canada for Celebrity Cruises, told Open Jaw, adding that notices would be sent out soon to Canadian partners.
Even though U.S. agents are able to apply through the program’s online portal already, the company wants to assure Canadian advisors that funds will not run out before they can apply for them. In an interview with Cruise Week, Celebrity Cruises’ SVP of Sales and Trade Support & Service, Dondra Ritzenthaler, emphasized that it will not be first-come, first-serve.
“We have earmarked money to the point where even though Canada won’t open on the same day, we will have funds for those people in Canada who qualify.’”
“Once the program is officially launched our partners will receive information on the parameters and how to apply,” Brooks said of the Canadian market. “We are keeping the program as simple as possible to ensure a quick turnaround.”
“It’s 10 questions and it’s easy,” Cruise Week reported Royal Caribbean’s SVP of Sales, Trade Support & Service, Vicki Freed, assuring advisors during her regularly-scheduled online chat last week. “The most important thing for us at Royal Caribbean is that we get the money into your hands because we know you need it.”
In an interview with Cruise Week, she said she expects up to 5,000 agencies will take advantage of the loan program.
“We’re not looking for tax returns. People don’t have to fill out a traditional loan application.’”
Applicants will be asked basic business questions that include legal name, contact information, structure of their travel business, what they plan to use the loan for, the status of their business now, and of course, how much they are asking for.
Ritzenthaler told Cruise Week the company’s formula for determining the maximum loan. “Agencies or individuals can ask for up to 25 per cent of the commissions that we paid them over the last six months of 2019 for all four of the brands—Celebrity, Royal, Azamara and Silversea.
“So everybody should have a pretty good idea of how much money they can get.”
The program is designed to help see advisors and agencies through another year, with the first repayment due in the 13th month of the loan’s three-year term.
“They basically pay back the three-year loan, with no interest, in years two and three,” said Ritzenthaler.
Brooks calls the program “an additional tool to help those who are in need,” adding, “We will continue to stand strong beside our partners across Canada.”