PITTSBURGH -- Gateway Travel Management, a $140 million agency
here, is the latest firm to quit Hickory Travel Systems, the Saddle
Brook, N.J.-based corporate travel consortium.
Gateway tendered its resignation Sept. 23, said Gateway
president Jim Pekins, and will join WorldTravel Affiliates shortly
before the end of 2003, after its 90-day financial commitment to
Like other defectors from Hickory that left the consortium
earlier this year, Pekins said WorldTravel offered discounted
pricing on technology (including its self-booking tool and
quality-control automation) and a more established global network
that could meet the needs of multinational clients.
Pekins also said he hasn't been pleased with Hickory's attempts
at establishing a leisure presence. For the most part, those
attempts, including developing a cruise reservations center and
buying the WorldKey consortium, have amounted to failed
"I've been put off by [Hickory's foray into leisure travel] the
last two or three years and I've told [Hickory CEO] Bill Chiles,"
said Pekins. "It's been a sore spot for me."
Pekins said Gateway may continue to use Hickory's 24-hour travel
desk, which he said is a good service, but that his agency is
evaluating other options and "keeping an open mind."
Other agencies to bolt Hickory this year include Austin Travel,
First Class International, Maupin Travel, Piedmont Travel and
Williamsburg Travel Management. Austin, a $120 million firm, and
Gateway are the largest agencies to depart Hickory.
To contact reporter Jerry Limone, send e-mail to [email protected].