Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Yesterday, we hit a bit of a snag with the business planning. We're planning on primarily focusing selling NCL cruises since that's the only cruise line that is allowed to only sail in Hawaii (others have to include at least one foreign port).
Well, my husband called up "NCL Japan" and the guy that he spoke with was very condescending and basically said "You can't do that." or, if we were going to go ahead with it, we would have to associate with another travel agency which was associated with NCL Japan, presumably giving commissions to two different companies. He generally made my husband feel like a sham or something.
I was dumbfounded. I mean, first...who's side is he on? My husband called to introduce himself and say that we are going to sell cruises for HIS COMPANY and the guy shot him down. Second, could there possibly be some kind of Japanese law that says that American companies cannot market directly to Japanese clients? And if so, what would prevent a Japanese person from seeking out an American company to do business with?
The iffy thing here is that Japanese travel companies advertise significantly higher prices than the ones that we can get in America. A cruise is an additional $1000. One night in a hotel is an additional $100. That type of thing. I don't know why. I don't know if this is a legal arrangement or merely a "gentlemen's agreement" between Japanese travel companies to fleece the Japanese people.
But in any case...our position is looking good. I talked to a lawyer who does business law, and while he doesn't specifically know about Japanese laws, his initial response was "Well, *everybody* does it!" (He was actually a pretty funny guy and spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me, pretty much "shooting the s*it". I have some calls in to other lawyers who know more international law. Then I had my husband call the Japan Association of Travel Agents, who also said that there was no problem with what we wanted to do.
So what is up with this guy?? I 50/50 think he might not actually be a legitimate representative of NCL. One CS rep at NCL told me that he was legit...but this same CS rep also told me about shorter cruises that I could buy through NCL's website which don't exist. The rep that I talked to today said that she didn't know about a Japanese office, that it wasn't listed in her book of contacts, that there was no "main office in California" (as the Japanese guy had told us), and that the website in question "looks dated".
Tomorrow I am calling the main NCL office to try to get some more facts, but we'll see.