By Shazah Ayub
As reading week approaches, some students may not be far from the sunny beaches of Mexico — but they are far from student discounts on travel since Travel Cuts shut down its Ryerson location.
After eight years, the discount travel agency has moved out of the Student Campus Centre (SCC) basement and merged operations with the University of Toronto’s location at College and St. George Streets.
“We’re not shutting down,” said Elizabeth Grimshaw, the manager of U of T’s Travel Cuts. “It’s more cost-effective for us to shift our services to College Street where our company already has an office.”
But the company says this change of location will not sever long-established ties with Ryerson.
“Travel Cuts will continue to offer special deals to Ryerson students,” said Grimshaw.
Travel Cuts operates discount travel agencies at university campuses across the country. “Cuts” was originally an acronym for Canadian universities travel service.
The company was formed in the 1950s and was operated by the Canadian Federation of Students for a time until it was sold to Merit Travel Group in 2009.
Despite its long-term association with the Ryerson community, many students seem indifferent to the move.
“I book my tickets online,” said Fatima Khan, a first-year psychology student.
But other students who greatly valued an on-campus discount travel service say Travel Cuts was a godsend for students with families living outside Toronto.
“Having (Travel Cuts) on campus got us the best deals. Now that they’re gone, I’ll just have to look for deals online,” says Nida Ali, a third-year business student.
She said the College Street location is not too far, but still less convenient than having a location on campus.
The indifference and the closure are signs of the changing times, with most of our interactions and activity increasingly online.
“Travel agencies that mainly depended on booking flights and hotels as their bread and butter are now bypassed because online booking has become convenient and cost-effective,” said Gabor Forgacs, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management at the Ted Rogers school of management.
“In fact, airline companies stopped paying commission to travel agencies years ago.”
Forgacs said he does not know exactly why the Travel Cuts on campus shut down.
But he speculated that there could be any number of good reasons.
“If you have a good location serving a growing market where travel needs increase every year and you shut down, it means that either they now do most of their business online and no longer need retail square footage,” said Forgacs.
“Or they can’t compete with online competitors and can’t afford to pay for the location any longer.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on October 9, 2013.