By Sean Bingham
You may have noticed that every Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring and summer students cause a mass evacuation of Provo as they travel home. The BYU Travel Office is now looking to help these students with their traveling needs.
“It”s amazing how much students travel,” said John Bramwell, director of Travel Management Services. “Starving students are on the road all the time.”
Bramwell said when he thinks of how many students go home for the holidays, it”s baffling because the Travel Office assists very few, if any, of those students.
“I think if we”re going to have a travel agency, then we need to have a travel agency,” Bramwell said.
The university currently uses an online travel service called Cliqbook for the traveling needs of faculty and staff. Cliqbook is a self-booking research tool similar to Travelocity, Orbitz and Expedia.
Bramwell said the advantage Cliqbook has over those Web sites is that it searches all of those sites. In addition, it searches all major airlines and all contract fares available through BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints.
Cliqbook is not currently available to students, but Bramwell said the Travel Office hopes it soon will be. He also said if Cliqbook ever becomes available to students, it should be available by fall semester and possibly as early as next week.
“I know we”re going to have it out (to students),” Bramwell said. “We”re motivated.”
The problems the Travel Office is dealing with is finding a way to give the students access to Cliqbook without charging BYU, while still offering the LDS and BYU fare rates.
“We”re not going to make money off of students, but we”re not going to lose money either,” Bramwell said.
Bramwell also said he hopes to have a student travel kiosk where Cliqbook will be available and, eventually, a place in the OneStop so students can book flights home for the holidays with the same ease and convenience as adding and dropping classes.
Kyle Pulley, a BYU student who recently got married said he used Travelocity and Orbitz when he planned his honeymoon and would have liked the option of Cliqbook.
“I definitely would”ve looked at it,” Pulley said. “I”d use it now.”
Though Cliqbook isn”t available to students yet, Bramwell said it”s a mistake to think the Travel Office is not a service for students. There are 15 travel agents at BYU, and though none of them specialize in vacation packages, they are willing and able to help students find good rates and there”s no fee.
“We don”t promote a whole lot here,” Bramwell said. “But we do have resource materials available and the ability to book them.”
Lorie Andersen, who worked at Murdock Travel before coming to BYU, is one agent who has the interest and know-how to find great rates for vacations and other travel.
Andersen said she still looks at vacation rates and travel Web sites to stay informed.
“My friends still call and ask me,” Andersen said. “I want to be able to answer the questions that I”ll be asked.”
Andersen said she would be willing to help students find low prices for their traveling needs and is confident she would be helpful: be it airfare, hotel rates, car rental or all of the above.
Bramwell also said he is confident the Travel Office can help students save money when they travel and encourages students to come and ask the agents how they can help. He also said the agents can be especially helpful when students know where they want to go and for how long, instead of just wondering what deals are available in general.