Cedar Travel becomes Travel Leaders of Owatonna
Things have changed dramatically at Cedar Travel of Owatonna.
The popular travel agency, which has had a home in Owatonna for the past 30 years, is now known as Travel Leaders of Owatonna.
Travel Leaders is a global travel agency with a new owner in Owatonna, Sara Butruff. She purchased the agency from Laurie Johnson, who started the Cedar Travel agency in 1989.
The location remains the same at 111 N. Cedar Ave. The phone number also remains the same at 507-455-1170.
Digs at the old location have changed, however. Butruff engineered a major makeover at the agency. "The new look is fantastic,” mentioned a visitor.
Johnson, a resident of Blooming Prairie, started the travel agency "down two blocks from its current location," she related. She worked at two other agencies, beginning in 1982.
Butruff has been in the business for 26 years. Her early travel experience was with Galaxy Travel in Apple Valley, beginning in 1999. Travel Leaders of Apple Valley serves the Apple Valley, Lakeville and Farmington areas.
A grand re-opening was held last Thursday with snacks and travel discussions being offered. Johnson displayed some of the agency's awards earned over the 30 years she has been involved with Cedar Travel.
Educational seminars, Butruff said, will be offered on river cruises, African safaris, Disney trips, etc. "I love river cruising and expedition cruising," she said. She explained that this type of cruising "immerses" the traveler into the destination.
The travel business has changed immensely over the years that the two have been involved, they agreed. Technology has changed the business, giving the vacationer more options from which to choose.
Both report that travel changed considerably following 9/11 and in 2008, a downturn of the economy.
Travelers can become as involved as they wish, Butruff remarked. She said social media (Facebook and Instagram) has enabled travelers the opportunity to become more directly involved in planning their trips.
Many customers desire to embark on some complex trips including Bucket List items. "We try to specialize and many of our agents may have been to a place where you want to go," says Butruff.
Some key vacation locations include the Caribbean, Australia/New Zealand, Hawaii, Europe/river cruising and Disney.
Butruff said Travel Leaders will utilize the newspaper, radio and television to promote its business. "I love print," she confessed. "I love having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while I read the newspaper," she added.
"I've had some really memorable travel experiences that never will be forgotten," remarked Johnson.
"She (Laurie) built the business and its clientele," Butruff says thankfullly.
The Owatonna staff numbers six: Butruff, Johnson, Cassy Buck, Jon Terrill, Laurie Zeller and Collen Holister. Butruff and Johnson will be rotating from Apple Valley and Owatonna. Zeller is manager of the Apple Valley office and Disney specialist for Travel Leaders.
Store hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Butruff also manages a Travel Leader store in Lewisburg, Pa., a town similar in size to Blooming Prairie.
"I love small towns," Butruff says.
Added Johnson, “Amen.”