As part of a weeklong Veteran’s Day celebration, Dream Vacations awarded five military heroes with free travel franchises as part of its eighth annual contest “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General.” Currently nearly 35 percent of franchise owners within Dream Vacations are military veterans and in the past eight years, the travel agency franchise has awarded 42 free franchises valued at more than $533,400 to deserving military veterans.
The annual “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” contest was open to former members of any of the five branches of the U.S. military who are retired, off active duty and/or honorably discharged prior to the contest start date this past May. Candidates participated in a three-part application process, which included creating a business plan, video essay and phone interviews. More than 2,400 people have applied for franchise ownership through Operation Vetrepreneur since 2012. This year’s winners are Marine Corps Veteran David Alexander of West Orange, NJ; Navy Veteran Tawnya Caldwell of Hermitage, TN; Army Veteran Michael Foster of Port St. Lucie, FL; Army Veteran Don Shirley of Cedar Park, TX; and Air Force Veteran Jimmy Weeks of Costa Mesa, CA.
All military veterans and Gold Star families who purchase a Dream Vacations travel agency business receive an enlistment package valued at no less than $5,000 and ongoing support. They can select one of four perks currently being offered: $2,000 travel training credit; receive up to $7,000 back based on initial fee through the Earn Back promotion; waived administrative fees valued at $1,350; or a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet valued at $1,000. In addition to having access to the Command Center, an internal portal with veteran-specific training and veteran-themed marketing assets, all veterans and Gold Star families receive a waived training fee for a business partner and the ability to hire active-duty military spouses and veterans as associates at a discount. Additional veteran incentives include the ability to move residences and stay in business, travel discounts for military customers and access to veteran networking groups.