During the launch for Burdell’s Black Book, students were able to get tickets for an advance screening of the new Harry Potter. (Photo by Virginia Lin)

Despite the typically loud atmosphere, visitors to the Student Center recently might have noticed more subdued colors than usual. Black balloons, posters and T-shirts speckled the Student Center this past week, though not for the reason that might be expected. Though the Student Center just celebrated its 40th birthday, the decorations were instead celebrating a new outreach program—Burdell’s Black Book (BBB).

BBB is the result of a partnership with Sparkfly, a company that gives its members deals and discounts to various stores, restaurants and businesses across the country. The Book will provide Tech’s students, faculty and staff with discounts to hundreds of businesses in Atlanta and across the country.

“We’re partnering with Tech to provide discounts for students, faculty and staff. The discount program provides rental cars, tickets to sports, movies, sports, Cirque du Soleil and lots of local businesses,” said Elena Naydenova of Sparkfly’s customer care.

Despite the name, the Book is actually an online collection of deals and discounts.

The idea for the Book first came up in Jan., according to Tasha Myers, Associate Program Director of the Student Center Programs Council (SCPC). Shortly after its creation, the Atlanta Life committee started looking at ways of reaching out to businesses outside of the typical Tech community.

“The [committee] wanted to figure out how they could make businesses more accessible, to encourage students to get out of the campus bubble,” Myers said.

“Whether it is a lack of transportation, not enough money, a busy college schedule or simply no interest, students are experiencing barriers between themselves and the opportunities that a major city can offer. The SCPC took on the challenge of creating BBB in the hopes that we could help to make Atlanta more accessible and affordable in order enhance that desire to explore and embrace city life,” said Paul Brideau, chair of the Atlanta Life committee and a third-year ME major.

When looking for similar programs, SCPC found Emory’s Dooley Saves program, a discount program that also uses Sparkfly.
SCPC decided it would be a good way of both reaching out to Atlanta businesses and providing students with benefits across the country, according to Brideau.

Myers said one of the benefits of working with Sparkfly is that it is a nationwide organization. While students will obviously get local discounts, they can also get deals at national organizations. Special offers are also available at places like Universal Studios. While the Book will start with the default options offered by Sparkfly, additions of new businesses will be largely decided by the Tech community.

“One of the coolest aspects of BBB is that it’s meant to be interactive, meaning we don’t choose the businesses, the Georgia Tech community does…Sparkfly has provided a foundation of over 500 local and national discounts, and we want that list to become more and more unique to the interests of the Georgia Tech community over time,” Brideau said.

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, the Student Center held a launch event for the Book. A Sparkfly representative was on campus to explain to students how the deals worked, posters listing the partner businesses were scattered around the student center and tickets were sold for the upcoming Harry Potter movie. The latter was accompanied by homemade butterbeer.

Plans are in place to increase BBB’s interactivity. A reviewing system and a blog are in the works.