Witte Travel Joins Global Network

May 19, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — The manager for business travel at Witte Travel & Tours predicts that the process of searching for flights and making reservations — not to mention landing discounts — is shifting into a higher gear.

Kim Oakes, who heads the firm’s business travel department, said higher speed and improved discount availability are two of the immediate effects of Witte’s recently announced strategic affiliation with WorldTravel BTI.

Oakes said WorldTravel is the second largest travel management services firm in the country, placing just behind American Express.

According to the announcement of the arrangement, WorldTravel had more than $4.2 billion in travel sales last year with, with an additional $1 billion in sales by affiliates such as Witte.

“And they invited us to join them,” she said. “It is quite an honor to have this affiliation.”

She explained that the arrangement permits Witte to pick and choose among a number of WorldTravel software products. And one that she said she finds exciting is a product that makes it possible for a Witte employee to access 21 travel Web sites in about 30 seconds.

“It’s a real time-saver for us,” she said. “It improves our productivity, and it also gives us access to a much larger number of discounts which, of course, we will be able to pass along to our clients.”

Because of WorldTravel’s volume, she added, major discounts now are available to Witte clients for lodging and car rental plus cruise and tour programs

Currently, Oakes said, her department provides travel management services to 350 West Michigan business clients.

Oakes said Witte has settled on another new software product that enables the local firm’s clients, if they choose, to access WorldTravel’s resources themselves and to make their own arrangements through Witte’s Web site.

She said the affiliation goes beyond just making travel arrangement technology available, because WorldTravel also makes available sales and marketing materials and human resources technology.

The president and founder of the firm, Henry I. (Henk) Witte, said that as a WorldTravel affiliate, the local agency can still provide the personal service of an independently owned business, but with the advantages of a large company.

“We’re very excited about this partnership,” he said.

“WorldTravel has grown by adding only leading agencies,” he said. “Our expanded buying power as part of a global travel management company will enable us to offer our clients even better discounts and lower prices, as well as sophisticated management reports, using the most advanced data in the industry.

Witte established the firm in 1975 in Ada. The company now is headquartered at 3250 28th Street SE. It also has a satellite office in Amsterdam.          

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