Flightlines

Book your vacation while you shop at six base exchanges

The Air Force has rolled out a test program to six additional bases allowing airmen to make their vacation or recreation plans at their base exchange.

The test program for placing Information, Tickets and Tours, or ITT, offices at exchanges was unveiled in August at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath in England, Little Rock AFB in Arkansas, Luke AFB in Arizona, Patrick AFB in Florida, and Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. The Air Force previously put ITT offices at MacDill AFB in Florida, Fairchild AFB in Washington, and Dyess AFB in Texas.

The ITT offices will be open five days a week at the exchanges, including one weekend day. Travel agents at the offices will help airmen plan their vacations — everything from booking discounted airplane tickets to reserving hotels to buying tickets for activities. If a problem arises during an airman’s trip, the ITT travel agent will help solve the problem, the Air Force’s website said.

“Providing concierge services means that customers will have one trusted source when they have a question about travel, the installation and/or local community,” said Sandra Hillard, community and leisure section chief at the Air Force Personnel Center. “If an ITT staff member does not know the answer, they know who to contact. The customer may benefit by saving a trip to an office that’s closed, or by saving time and resources thanks to the information ITT provides.

Hillard said the first offices at MacDill, Fairchild and Dyess showed the Air Force how important it is to have “one-stop shopping” for travel services. The ITT program is part of the Air Force’s Services Transformation Initiative that seeks to improve how the service provides morale, welfare and recreation programs and services.

The test program will run through August 2014, and the Air Force will study the results to see if it reduces operating costs, increases foot traffic or generates additional revenue. Exchanges usually have more than 2,000 customers each day, Hillard said, but due to their locations, ITT offices usually have fewer than 2,000 visitors per week.

If the test is successful, Hillard said, more ITT offices could be moved into base exchanges. But not all of the 75 worldwide ITT offices would be merged with exchanges, she said.

“We have ITT operations in high traffic areas that we are not interested in moving, such as a building in front of the [base exchange or] commissary or a very active community center, military personnel section and outdoor recreation,” she said. “Flexibility of customers being able to shop in a convenient one-stop shopping area is definitely a hallmark of this partnership, and quality customer service is something all our force support activities strive for.”

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