Two local travel agencies merge after owner of one retires to Texas

Grand Junction’s oldest travel agency has folded into its competitor.

Horizon Travel, 715 Horizon Drive, Suite 201, which has been in business about 30 years, has acquired Grand Junction Travel, known locally for 33 years. The merger became official in October.

Grand Junction Travel owner Sherry Smethurst retired and moved to Texas.

“She and I were probably the two largest in town and had been for a long time,” said Mike Schoede, owner of Horizon Travel. “We were pretty competitive for 25 years. I’d steal her employees; she’d steal mine. I’d steal her accounts; she’d steal mine. That went on for a really long time.”

Business was slow at both agencies before the acquisition, Schoede said.

“But now we’re just as busy as heck,” he said.

He picked up at least one of her two employees, bringing his total to four, including himself.

The advantages of the merger, he said, is, “We’re both still around.”

With many people going online for bookings, he said the advantages of a travel agency is that a Web site like Orbitz does not give a viewer all of the flights.

“We have access to all of the flights,” he said. “What we’re finding is even people who are growing up on the Internet are getting frustrated doing bookings online. In fact, my daughter, who is 23, told me that today.”

Schoede said travel agencies tend to have a wider variety of choices that work with airlines and package sales.

After July, the travel business began to pick up with hotel package prices decreasing and fuel prices easing, he said.

Schoede declined to disclose the cost of the acquisition or the assets held by each company.


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