STA closes campus location

Students looking to make travel plans face-to-face with an agent will no longer be able to do so on campus. Effective June 27, STA Travel , a student-focused travel company, closed its Coffman Union location as a part of a larger nationwide closing of its retail locations. STA closed 48 of its 65 U.S. retail locations in June, Kristen Celko, STA TravelâÄôs vice president of marketing said . Geographic location in the United States, profitability and how long the locations had left on their leases were some of the factors that determined which locations closed, Celko said. STAâÄôs lease does not end with the University until June 30, 2009, Director of Student Unions and Activities Maggie Towle said . âÄúWe were surprised of their closure,âÄù she said. âÄúWe had no idea that they were planning on closing some of their stores.âÄù Cost-effectiveness and development of the companyâÄôs website and call center were behind the closing of so many retail locations, Celko said. Approximately 200 STA employee positions were eliminated with the changes, three from the Coffman location, Celko said. STA is also looking to modify the way it sets up its retail locations. Celko said STA is piloting a new model of location in two Barnes & Noble college bookstores at Ohio State University and Northwestern University. She said the partnership allows STA to have an office within an existing retail location, which brings down overhead costs. âÄúWe are absolutely committed to having retail locations,âÄù she said. Celko said although STA Travel will no longer offer its services from Coffman, students can access the company on its website or through its 1-800 number, which both connect students to the same professionals who worked in the retail locations. As for the former STA space in Coffman, the University will be unable to lease it to another business until the lease with STA expires, Towle said. Although it would be possible to terminate the lease with STA early, the University canâÄôt solicit other tenants for the space until the lease is finished, which makes it a catch-22, Towle said. âÄúWe rely on the revenue from leases,âÄù Towle said. Towle said commercial businesses are often the only companies who can afford to rent the space. A business would have to pay between $40,000 and $64,000 a year to rent the location. Nutrition senior Hayley Ramsey said she was disappointed to hear STA closed because she used it to plan her study abroad travel and a spring break trip to London. âÄúIt was easy and convenient to have it on campus,âÄù she said. âÄúI wasnâÄôt sure if I was going to be using it in the near future, but if I were to travel I wouldâÄôve used it.âÄù Not all students, however, will feel the effects of the close. English education junior Charity Thielke said although she walked by STAâÄôs Coffman location on a regular basis, she books all of her travel online. âÄúWhen I was planning or researching things I was always off campus at my place,âÄù she said. âÄúSo, it was easier to look online.âÄù When it comes time to lease out the STA space, Towle said she will look to the Student Unions & Activities Board of Governors to decide what services students want on campus. Chemistry sophomore Crosby Tindal said he thinks it would be beneficial to get another travel agency on campus. âÄúI think that itâÄôs unfortunate, especially for people who live here,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs a lot more of a hassle to drive and find a travel agency.âÄù