Carrousel Travel opened its doors in 1977 in Minneapolis, Minnesota with two employees. We recently caught up with Rob Harris and Neal Kraemer, two guys who met in college, formed a life-time friendship, and are now the owners of Carrousel Travel. This is the story of how Carrousel came to be one of the largest, independently owned and operated Travel Management Companies in the Midwest.
How did you get involved in travel?
We started in the business in 1988 offering soft adventure trips to individuals and corporate groups -primarily Alaskan fishing adventures, safaris, and ski trips. We forged a close relationship with the founders of Carrousel Travel to manage our airline ticketing needs.
How did you become owners of Carrousel Travel?
The relationship with the previous owners of Carrousel Travel flourished and we ended up purchasing the agency in October 1989.
How has the business changed over the years?
It was a small office when we purchased it with three agents and a support person with annual sales just under two million dollars. As time has passed, we’ve grown Carrousel to a 33 person company with sales over 100 million dollars with three divisions – Business Travel, Groups and Incentives, and Leisure Travel.
How has the travel business changed over the years?
Wow, where do we start? Travel has come full circle over the years – from airline commission cuts, paperless e-tickets, the advent of the internet, which took a while to embrace and accept, and immense technological changes and improvements. Today, this technology works in our favor and makes traveling easier than ever.
What is your recipe for success?
Even with all the changes to the industry, the one thing that has always stayed the same is our agents’ incredible expertise and commitment to customer service. They are the ones making it happen for our customers – day in and day out. We are extremely proud to be a five time winner of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Best Places to Work Award. It is a testament to our people. Technology brought us new tools, but people are our business.
What would you say to your customers?
We are extremely grateful to our customers who have put their trust in us trip after trip and group after group. You are the reason for our success. We couldn’t have gotten to this point without you!
Through the coming months Carrousel Travel will be celebrating our 40 years in business with 40 Acts of Kindness. We will be sharing our journey on our website and social media, and we encourage you to share your own Acts of Kindness or the kind things others do for you. Follow us at #CarrouselCares and #CT40ActsOfKindness.