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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Travel services office closure

The move to an online booking tool affects all travel at St. Joe’s

Saint Joseph’s University faculty and staff members, student groups and sports teams are often required to travel across the nation, sometimes around the world, for their job or organization. To ease the woes of traveling, St. Joe’s offered a stress-free process of booking travel plans through the university’s travel services office. However, after some administrative changes, the St. Joe’s community will have to turn to the web to book their trips.

The travel services office at St. Joe’s officially closed its doors on June 30, 2017. According to a statement from David Beaupré, the vice president for finance and administration, to all St. Joe’s employees, the university decided to close the travel services office in hopes to reduce any tuition increases and improve the university’s connections and investments in technology.

Starting in July, instead of booking trips through the university travel services office, travel plans should be made through an online booking tool, Concur. At first look, Concur is a sleek new company that helps manage corporate travel. It offers a mobile phone application and guarantees safe and easy booking, all while ensuring that each employee follows travel policy.

Beaupré said in his statement that most faculty and staff members already know how to make travel plans through Concur, as it was the alternative to the travel services office before closure.

For tech-savvy community members, the switch to Concur may be exactly what has been missing. But for many, moving from a personal contact at the travel services office to a website may offer more confusion than ease.

Beaupré mentions that if any faculty or staff members need additional help, they can turn towards self-service tutorials or attend university sponsered training sessions in the upcoming weeks to learn more about Concur.

The decision to close the travel services office seemed like a positive choice, but the move to Concur may offer a more fragmented approach to travel from the university.

Darlene Meely, director of travel, has solely run the travel services office by herself since 2005. She is responsible for much of the travel booking work for students and student organizations.

“At no time did leadership consult with me or request any data regarding this decision,” said Meely. “I was equally as surprised by this [decision] as the university community.”

Meely said that the office served many more people than only the faculty and staff members included in Beaupré’s initial email. As director of travel, Meely would book all travel, whether it be air, rail, car or bus. She booked hotels, created meal plans and negotiated any insurance claims.

One of Meely’s biggest tasks was booking the 60 plus vans for the Appalachian Experience service trip (APEX). For this trip, she negotiated insurance plans, constructed booklets for each of the 60 vans and addressed all the accidents that may have occurred
on the trip.

The service organization relied heavily on the travel services office to help plan the 17 different trips.

“I was informed [about the closure],” Matt Fulmer said in an email correspondence to The Hawk. “But no one has spoken about
the implications and what this means for the future of booking travel for APEX.”

Fulmer explained that he and his office are excited about potentially collaborating with new vendors in a financially efficient way.

“I feel badly for the organizations that now have to absorb and find people in their departments to handle this,” says Meely. “I have all the information in my mind while people are struggling to pick up the new stuff.”

Meely also notes that the university may not have taken into consideration all of the different trips that the office booked.

“I would’ve like to see it [the closure] done differently,” Meely says. “But it is what is.

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