Travel firms to tread common path

Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

In an effort to loosen themselves from an industry squeeze felt nationwide, Crystal Travel and Glenwood Travel King have merged into one office.

The new company will be known as Glenwood Travel King.

Crystal Travel owner Melissa English and Glenwood Travel King owners Hunter and Joey Antonides cited economic pressures that existed even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks sent airline ticket sales plummeting.

“Mergers are the wave of the future,” said English, who opened Crystal Travel in Carbondale 14 years ago.

English closed her Carbondale doors last week, and is operating out of the Glenwood Travel King office at 918 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs.

She greeted clients with a business-as-usual “Crystal Travel King” Monday morning, using a transitional name so customers don’t feel disoriented. In six months, she plans to simply answer the phone “Glenwood Travel King.”

English said travel agencies were hurt several years ago when airline companies stopped paying commissions for selling tickets, and they were forced to charge customers directly. At the same time, flyers started reserving airline seats through the Internet in increasing numbers.

The terrorist attacks crippled the airline industry. Lately, the war in Iraq and fears of the SARS virus have kept travelers at home.

“With the complexity of running a travel agency, it’s a lot more challenging,” English said.

English said her only options were to lay off her three employees and operate a specialty travel agency, or merge with another firm. She chose the latter, and hung onto travel agents Berit Daniels, Michele Sober and Marilyn Mann.

English said that even with the flat fees she must charge for booking airline reservations, many of her older customers prefer her service to going online to find tickets.

“We’ll still shop around and get customers the best deal,” English said.

Travel agents still earn commissions for package tours and other services.

With the new Glenwood Travel King, Hunter Antonides has coined at least two new company slogans.

Referring to the eight travel veterans under one roof, one saying is, “Your experience begins with ours.”

And for those travelers who might be tempted to go it alone on the Internet, Antonides says, “We’re your best search engine.”

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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