DALLAS -- Harvard University's travel manager believes the school's
quest for a self-booking tool -- one its travelers will actually
use -- is over, now that Expedia Corporate Travel is providing
agency services for the university.
Priscilla Campbell, director of travel and reimbursement at
Harvard, said the university implemented TRX's ResAssist two years
ago, and before that, used American Express' first-generation tool,
AXI. Neither product gained popularity among travelers.
"The problem we were having is that those tools were not
all-inclusive for our needs," Campbell told TravelWeekly.com in an
interview at the National Business Travel Association conference
and trade show here. "The tools were slow, didn't offer Web fares
and the cost of booking and fulfillment was very high, about $40.
We were challenged to find a product that provides service and
In Expedia Corporate Travel, Campbell believes she's found the
solution that fits Harvard's needs and the travelers' needs.
Unassisted online bookings cost $5, and agent-assisted bookings
The university's travelers, many of who enjoy shopping for
travel on the Internet, enjoy using a product they would use when
buying personal travel, Campbell said. Expedia's brand strength
will be an important factor in driving adoption, she added.
However, Harvard wouldn't have implemented Expedia Corporate
Travel if the company couldn't meet Harvard's service requirements,
Campbell said. For example, Expedia displays Harvard's private
fares. Reporting and policy-control tools are also available.
And when there's a question or problem, Expedia employs a
Boston-area account manager, Kim Williams, to serve Harvard and
other universities Expedia recently signed up, including the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern
Williams is a travel industry veteran who has worked for
American and Sabre.
"We expect high service," Campbell said. "It's part of our
culture. The value needs to be there and so does the service."
In her mind, Expedia's service gave it an edge over Orbitz for
Business, an online agency Harvard seriously considered.
"Although Orbitz has a slick tool, there were service concerns,"
Campbell said. "The travel agency is an outsourced operation [to
Rosenbluth's Upstream division]. We didn't feel there was a
commitment to make sure that service was in line with our
Considering that travelers may continue to shop other Web sites
and that Harvard is still retaining WorldTravel BTI and a small
agency in the Boston area to handle complex itineraries, Campbell
said Harvard's goal is to process 50% of its bookings through
Expedia by the end of this year.
If Harvard uses Expedia 70% of the time over a one-year period,
she said, the university could save $1 million in travel management
Harvard annually spends $52 million on travel and entertainment,
including $20 million on air.
To contact reporter Jerry Limone, send e-mail to [email protected].