Celece Krieger was raised in northern Utah and southeast Idaho. She graduated from Preston High School and moved to Salt Lake City. In 1991, she answered an ad for a receptionist at a large tour company, and that is where her love for travel began. She eventually worked her way up to arranging vacation packages for travelers coming from Europe and Asia to explore the western United States and Canada.
In 1995, her parents relocated to St. George, so Celece decided to follow and traded her snow boots for flip flops. She was fortunate enough to find employment with a student tour operator and arranged travel for students and performing groups around the country. A few years later, she decided to pursue her career as a travel agent, which opened her world. Although she loved her job, she had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom for her two children, Tate and Ashlie. Soon, her days consisted of carpooling, bake sales, school crafts, and homemaking. Although she treasured spending time with her children, her love for travel never went away.
In 2009, the great recession arrived and she had to go back to work. Jobs were not easy to come by and depression started to sink in. While she was watching Oprah one afternoon, she had her aha moment. Oprah said, “When you love what you do, then it does not seem like work.” It hit her right at that moment – she loved travel! Her previous employer was threatening to close their business, so she knew she could not go back to her old job. It was then she decided to open her own travel agency and bring along two of her former co-workers. Although it was not an easy process, The Travel Connection opened in December, 2009.
Many thought she was taking a huge risk by starting a travel business during the recession when so many other businesses were closing their doors. She knew deep down in her heart she could make it work. Nobody told her how many hats she would wear with a new business — anything from writing travel columns, talking on the radio, scrubbing toilets, and everything in between. There were many long days and times when her paycheck sat in the desk. Within six months, life threw another curve ball and she became a single mom to her seventeen- and eleven-year-old children.
When times got really tough, it only took her a few minutes to think about her own strong mother, Nelda Kissinger. Nelda managed to graduate from college with honors, all while working as a waitress at night and raising two children. Nelda’s example gave Celece the determination and courage to pursue her dreams.
Since 2009, The Travel Connection has grown into one of the top travel agencies in southern Utah, serving thousands of customers. If you ask Celece how she did it, she will tell you, “I just did what I had to do to make it work. I knew I could never give up because failure was not an option.” She did not do it alone and is very grateful for her team, especially Mary Curtis and Lauren Baxter who took the risk with her in 2009.
Celece said the best part of owning a local business is having the opportunity to serve. She has served on the Board of Utah Business Women and the Women’s Influence Center in St. George. She supports many local causes, including American Association of University Women, The Dove Center, Switchpoint, Coins for Kids, and more.
Last June, Celece married the love of her life, Rob Krieger on a beautiful beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Since her children are now grown, Celece and Rob have two beautiful Australian Labradoodles, Beau and Bella. She is looking forward to many more years of travel, spending time with her family, and helping others. When she looks back at the tough times, she is grateful for the experiences because it made her who she is today.