August 28, 2000
Volume 53, No. 1
Emory travel office closes DUC location
By Michael Terrazas
World Travel Partners, Emory's official travel service provider, closed its office in the Dobbs Center July 31, but the company is still offering telephone service through the same University extension (404-727-1040), according to the treasurer's office.
Due to the recent explosion in Internet travel bookings-up from $2.5 billion in 1998 to more than $7 billion in 1999, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle-sales through travel agents have decreased.
Also, airlines have recently cut severely the commissions they pay to agencies, from 10 percent with no cap in 1995 to 5 percent with a cap of $50 for domestic tickets and $100 for international.
Another factor was the University's decentralized structure. According to the treasurer's office, various departments spent more than $1.5 million-about 35 percent of the total Emory dollars paid to travel agencies-with more than 60 agencies other than World Travel in the 15-month period ending in March 2000.
"One of the biggest issues [in the closing] was the cost of maintaining the office," said David Thurston, assistant vice president for finance. "It was a revenue sharing process, and their source of revenue was dramatically cut."
Thurston said his office is working with World Travel to set up an Emory-specific travel website that will allow Emory travelers to go online, make travel arrangements and with departmental authorization charge the packages directly to a University account. He said plans are for the site to go online in October.
"The challenge is, does that product really deliver the same level of service as the other engines that are out there and open to the general public?" Thurston said. "We believe World Travel's will do that, and we're working with them to tailor it to some Emory-specific policies."