TULSA, Okla. -- Citing an increase in online reservations, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. announced plans to close its reservations center in Okmulgee, Okla. The company said it will try to relocate as many employees there as possible to reservation centers in Tulsa and Tahlequah, Okla.
The Okmulgee facility, which opened in 1998, currently has just under 80 employees, including hourly and salaried staff. DTG officials met with the Okmulgee employees Wednesday to announce the closing and to provide job transfer, job search and benefit information. Company officials said the facility will close Sept. 18.
"Closure of a facility is always a painful process. However, we realize that the world changes," said Don Himelfarb, DTG's president and chief operating officer for marketing, franchising and administration. "A successful business strategy dictates that we, too, must change, or get left behind. The good news is that we are redeploying our assets in Oklahoma, which, over time, will result in new jobs either in Tulsa or Tahlequah."
Himelfarb emphasized that the closure of the Okmulgee facility is not DTG's reaction to a difficult market environment or a distressed financial condition. "This is a singular proactive decision to ensure our company remains the best performer in our industry and is limited to our Okmulgee telephone operations center," Himelfarb said.
DTG has 1,500 of its over 6,000 worldwide employees based in Oklahoma. Of the publicly held companies based in Oklahoma, DTG ranks as one the top 10 employers in the state.
"The Okmulgee Thrifty Reservations Center and its employees have been valuable assets to us over the past five years," Himelfarb said. "Unfortunately, the telephone operations center there is no longer necessary due to the enormous amount of reservations that now are personally booked by travelers using the Internet."
During 2002, 45% of all rental car reservations made with DTG's brands, Dollar Rent A Car and Thrifty Car Rental, were generated via the Internet. Those reservations were booked through the company's own Web sites, dollar.com and thrifty.com, as well as other popular travel sites including Expedia, Travelocity, Southwest Airlines and Orbitz.
"Overall, our Internet reservations grew by 46% during 2002," Himelfarb said, "and we expect that trend to continue."