Mikaela Walker, Dream Vacations Franchisee, Loves the Freedom of Franchise Ownership

Name: Mikaela Walker, Dream Vacations Franchisee

Location: Orlando, FL

Franchise Owner Since: 2011

1. What was it about the franchise model and/or leadership that led you to purchase it?

I liked the amount of training and support that Dream Vacations was providing. While I had a business background, and I had a lot of personal travel under my belt, I didn’t have the first idea of how to run a travel business. After the week of live training, I felt much more comfortable with being an agent and my ability to book cruises. If I had a question, I could call Support Services and they would walk me through it. Even though I was an Independent Agent, I never felt alone.

2. What type of business experience, education, and/or skills did you have prior to becoming a franchisee that you have found particularly helpful?

I have a background in Strategy, Marketing and Market Research. I have an MS in Marketing and an MBA.

3. What do you like most about your job/owning a franchise?

I love travel and I love helping people experience travel. I feel that a lot of people don’t travel more because they think they can’t afford it, or they are afraid. I help dispel both of those myths and help more people see the world.

I also love the freedom that comes with owning my own business and the support. If I want to volunteer at my sons’ school, I can because I have my own business and I am my own boss.

While I love owning my own business, I also am happy to have the support that comes with a franchise. When I planned my first group last year, I had help from the Groups Team in setting up the group in the system, building a group registration page and reconciling funds at the end of the group cruise. Without their help, I don’t believe everything would have gone as smoothly as it did.

4. How did you fund your franchise? 

I used a credit card to purchase my franchise.

5. What advice do you have for prospective franchise buyers? What do you wish you had known prior to going into franchising?

Know that this is a business and like all businesses you must work at it in order to build it. Headquarters gives us a lot of great tools that we can utilize, and they provide support to answer questions, but your business will not grow unless you dedicate time and resources (manpower and dollars) to it.

 When I started, I wish I had known that sometimes before we can even get to “sell a product,” we must sell ourselves. Many people don’t even know that travel advisors still exist, and those who do know don’t understand our value. So, a lot of the time, we must educate consumers about travel advisors first. I still get that question even after doing this for so many years.

6. What else would you like to share?

Dream Vacations headquarters doesn’t rest on their laurels. Every year they try to improve and give us more training and tools. When I started, we only had the National Conference and smaller local conferences in a few areas around the country. We now have even more local conferences and have added a Luxury Summit, Land Summit and River Summit. The Tech Team rolls out new improvements to our software pretty much every year. The software is amazingly simple to use and allows us to spend our time in other areas that will help grow our business.

Interested in owning a Dream Vacations franchise? You can learn more and inquire here.
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