Exec acquires travel agency


Cruise & Travel Experts moved into a new office, 301 W. Savidge St. in Spring Lake. Courtesy Cruise & Travel Experts

A nearly 40-year-old travel agency in Spring Lake lives on, just with a different name.

Cruise & Travel Experts recently moved into a new location in downtown Spring Lake at 301 W. Savidge St. The company acquired 36-year-old Travel Leaders in September 2014.

Tom Baumann takes over as owner of operation, which will otherwise maintain the same managers and staff.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The new office is 3,000 square feet, nearly three times the size of the previous office. Cruise and Travel Experts employees 15 people, but several independent contractors also use the brand and services provided.

The former owner of the Spring Lake agency, Karla Constantine, will maintain a sales and management role. She started the agency 36 years ago.

“I’m so excited to watch Tom continue to grow the company,” Constantine said. “It will be fun to serve our longtime clients at our new office, and to welcome new travelers who may drive by and notice our new larger facility.”

With technology increasingly playing a role in consumers’ travel plans, Baumann doesn’t seem discouraged. He started his own agency, Travel Right, in Holland in 1987 before selling to Carlson Wagonlit Travel in 2000. He then served as president of the Vacation & Business Travel Division of Carlson that later spun off into Travel Leaders Leisure Group, before launching the newest venture.

He said an effective travel agent can make a real difference in planning.

“It’s what we do, it’s the service we provide to our clients,” Baumann said. “We base our business model on providing good service and developing relationships that matter. In fact, a great deal of people are coming back to using travel agents because they’ve had enough with the impersonal service of the Internet.

“It’s nice to have a real person to call, and not an 800 number where they will put you on hold and frankly, have the ‘it’s not my problem’ attitude.”

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