How Travel Agents Are Weathering the Storm during Pandemic
Meet just some of our 1500+ work from home travel agency owners who have joined this industry for their love of travel and passion to help people create lifelong memories. With support from each other, we look forward to a bright future in travel continuing to inspire people to keep dreaming!
Dawn Warner, Dream Vacations in Stone Mountain, GA
“The travel industry is more than a passion for me. It is just as essential to me as food! I see this time as an opportunity to restructure my business, invest in travel stock and nurture my continuous desire for knowledge of travel destinations. Thanks to our excellent marketing team, I’ve been able to stay connected with my clients as well as keep up to date on the ever-changing safety protocols with the various vendors. Navigating the openings, closings and credits would not have been possible without the support of the headquarters team. There will ALWAYS be a desire for people to see the world. The travel industry will be in even greater demand in the coming year. If I didn’t already own a travel franchise, I would purchase one NOW. Clients will need our guidance and expertise. I plan to be right there fulfilling those dream vacations.”
Christina Norris, Dream Vacations Franchise in Social Circle, GA
“I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with since I came on with Dream Vacations in May 2020. Although I had a little bit of travel agent experience, I really had no clue how to run a business, network, advertise or market. I have always specialized in the customer service aspect of my career. However, May 17, 2020, when my dream became a reality and we went live, the clock was on. There was so much to learn, watch, study, navigate and understand. I was more than willing to do whatever I needed to do and learn what I needed to learn. Every step of the way someone has been there to help and guide me with any questions or concerns. HQ not only lives up to what they tell you in the beginning, they are always willing to help me out at any time and if they cannot, they get me to where I can get what I need. Then the really amazing thing happened. I realized very quickly that this isn’t just me, it’s US. Not only does HQ always have my back and help when needed, but every time I come on this Facebook page with a question or concern it is almost immediately answered by multiple people. I’ve always had someone to reach out to where I don’t feel alone in this. As this may be a business, it’s also a family, a family that has made me feel very welcome since joining on. You have all been an inspiration for me and can’t wait to learn more from everyone. We are all in this together and will get through this together. “The best view comes after the hardest climb”
Trapper Martin, Dream Vacations in Belle Isle, Fla.
“The travel industry is a close-knit group of people and we all know that humans have short memories and the desire to travel is certainly there. I have been just as busy for future bookings as ever. It is the current year of business that been affected. Our partners have protected a majority of the commission on this, but as in any business you need to be prepared for the down times.
During all of this, it certainly speaks volumes of how on a daily basis we are saving our clients tons of time and money and most importantly less stress when dealing with vendors in a very stressful time.”
Carol Nunnery, Dream Vacations in Cape Girardeau, MO
“Dream Vacations is a wonderful brand to be affiliated with. I am confident the travel industry will return stronger than ever because “people will never stop traveling.” The desire is insatiable. At this time while travel is paused, people are sitting home dreaming about when they can take their next trip.
Our headquarters at Dream Vacations has kept us constantly updated on cancellation policies, rebook opportunities and incentives along with keeping us informed on protocol for visiting countries post-Covid.
I have my first honeymoon couple traveling to Cancun “post-Covid.” Are you familiar with the term “helicopter parents?” I am a “Helicopter Travel Agent”. We had to change this honeymoon THREE times! They are so excited to be leaving for the Valentin in Riviera Maya on July 22nd. As their advisor, I need the facts! As a result, I am traveling down there on July 20th and staying at the same resort. I am truly invested in their honeymoon experience.”
Gary Smith, Dream Vacations in Eugene, Ore.
“Prior to the crisis we had built our business to the second largest in the Dream Vacations network. We had sustained 30%+ growth year over year for 10 years. There is no question that travel will be back. The only question is when. We believe in the future, regardless of the situation today.
Our headquarters team has not skipped a beat. Every service we expect them provide; they do. They have adapted to the situation by offering trainings on the new challenges presented – Future Cruise Credits, Mass Cancellations, etc.
During this pandemic, we have fought for our clients on dozens of fronts. I think one place we went above and beyond is that we keep a long list of people who purchased airfare and have not yet qualified for a refund. We check that list of flights every day and as soon as we see a change large enough to qualify for a refund, we pounce on it for our client.”
Mara Hargarther, Dream Vacations in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
“Giving up is never ever an option. I just needed to adjust my sails (and sales too) to the current climate.
I am a glass half full kind of person so I see some good in this and believe there will be some longer-term benefits for those who stay the course and ride it out. Not all of us can do this, but I am fortunate to be in the position to wait. I have managed to find some balance and that is a really good thing.
Our headquarters staff has been very supportive of our efforts and our challenges. Most of these are related to tracking down monies from suppliers and getting some suppliers to do the right thing and bend their policies when needed. This is a benefit of being a Dream Vacations franchisee. Our volume speaks volumes. Also, our marketing department has been very thoughtful and sensitive with their strategies to go to market. I am very appreciative of that. Management has been reaching out and checking in with us to make sure we are okay and that has been nice. We do the same with them.
We had clients aboard the Diamond Princess in January. They did not contract the COVID-19 virus but one of them did have to go to the hospital in Japan. The cruise line had no idea of her whereabouts and we had to step in and help with the communication, arrangements, you name it we did it. It was literally a full-time job that lasted weeks. But they are home safe and sound and we have become good friends with them. They have already booked their next cruise.”
Rhonda Day, Dream Vacations in Louisville, Ky.
“When you are in crisis, you want to be associated with someone or something that stands by you and supports you. You want to have a partner that sticks with you in good times and bad.
As a franchise owner with Dream Vacations, you operate your business independently, but you are never alone. This has never been more evident than 2020, when our world came to a halt, due to Covid-19. Travel has been, undoubtedly, one of the hardest-hit industries. It is mind-boggling how many details we have had to deal with as Travel Advisors since March 2020. Throughout this time, it was never a question that our corporate team was, and is, behind us 100%. From the Co-CEO/Chairman, Brad Tolkin and other senior leaders to our Marketing, Public Relations and Support Services teams, we have never been alone. They have jumped right in with virtual phone calls, meetings and uplifting motivational meetings and emails. If we have to fight for a client due to ever-changing policies, we can count on our corporate team to back us up. Being affiliated with World Travel Holdings creates close connections with travel suppliers, and this is so very important in providing us with a direct line to make things happen, in good and bad times! Travel is my passion. It has been devastating to witness so many losses and changes. I do know this though, our world is resilient and so is travel and we will be back, better than ever.”
Dana Salem-McCarthy, Dream Vacations in North Fort Myers, Fla.
“I know these are frustrating times for all of us in the travel industry, but my clients and yours are as anxious to travel as we are. Every week several of my clients call inquiring when it might be safe to travel, and they want to book! I know this may sound silly, but I am actually nervous of how the travel industry is going to take off once everything settles down. Will I be 100% ready to be crazy-busy making people smile again? So, in my downtime I’m learning as much as I can and staying up-to-date daily with all the travel changes and requirements so I can be ready for the amazing booking craze coming soon.”
Jerry March, Dream Vacations in Jacksonville, NC
“We are waiting out the come back and will be ready when the demand comes back in full force. People will travel again as we have plenty of clients ready to go now and just waiting for things to clear up.
We have used the headquarters support team more in the last 4-5 months then we have in the last several years combined. They have been there in our time of need to help navigate these unchartered waters.
The day President Trump announced closing the border with Europe at 8:30pm and a client calls moments later that they were on tour in Spain and needed to get home before the border closed. We worked for two hours finding them flights home before the deadline. The clients were so grateful we stepped up and helped get them home.”
Karen Quinn-Panzer, Dream Vacations in Milford, Ct.
“People are resilient, and many are chafing at the bit to go anywhere right now and will book something as soon as they feel that it’s safe to go where they want to go. Travel agents will be of even more importance to them than ever before. Plus, the travel industry – including the cruise lines, travel operators and hotels, have hired specialists to improve the safety and wellness protocols across the board.
Our headquarters team has provided support above and beyond my expectations. From the top down, everyone has been there for us, and has helped us pivot and focus on helping our clients navigate through these challenging times – including simplifying the cancellation and rebook process, as well as helping us focus on domestic destinations that might substitute for international trips.
We saved the day for 36 clients on a Jordan/Egypt group trip originally scheduled for May 17, 2020, by offering price protection for those who booked on one of two alternative dates in 2021. By working with the travel supplier, we also offered clients one day to cancel for a cash refund. We ended up rebooking 32 out of 36 clients in 2021.”
Anne Harpold, Dream Vacations in Grand Rapids, Michigan
“Seven years ago, after a rewarding 30-year career in education, we decided to become entrepreneurs and began what we call “our career 2.0” as Travel Specialist. We have never looked back on that decision to purchase our Dream Vacations Franchise. From the initial inquiry, completing our due diligence, and initial training, we knew that this was the journey we were seeking for our career 2.0.
Our first six years were amazing! We took advantage of every training and increased our sales year after year. We traveled to many unique and interesting destinations that gave us first-hand information to share with our guests.
While 2020 has been extremely stressful for travel specialists, the support team at Headquarters, has walked us through the crisis one step at a time. They are there to commiserate, encourage, and continue to educate so that we feel prepared when the travel industry is back in full swing! Even through this trying time, we know we made the right decision seven years ago!”
Betty Tolleson and April Jolly, Dream Vacations in Roebuck, S.C.
“We have been in the travel industry with Dream Vacations for more than 25 years. We love the industry and all the people that we have met during this time. We have helped a lot of people plan their Dream Vacations! During these past few months the headquarters team has been wonderful. So supportive in every way. They have kept us informed and always have trainings for us to complete, to stay in the know at this time. This helps us have an edge in the industry.
We have worked with the suppliers, to get the best options for our clients, whether it be a refund and /or Future Cruise Credits. We are confident that we have done a good job for our clients and saved them a lot of time and been here for them, to during this stressful time.”
Jamie Murphy, Dream Vacations in Shepherdsville, Kentucky
“I decided to pursue this opportunity during the pandemic because I saw it as a golden opportunity to capitalize on the high demand for travel that we will see once the country and world return to cruising and traveling. Any new business is going to start off slow and require a learning curve, so I figured now is the time to open because the pandemic will initially slow travel down which will give me ample time to learn the Dream Vacations systems and suppliers plus time to market and build my brand.
Dream Vacations has done an unbelievable adapting to the daily changes of Covid-19. The online engagement has been top-notch, from Motivational Monday speeches to virtual onboarding and virtual regional training. Nothing beats in-person meetings but the virtual meetings and trainings have gone off perfectly.
Even things such as meeting with my business development manager has been so simple. If I have questions or just want to keep them updated on my operation, I just look at their availability and schedule a meeting. Knowing that I can reach out during a pandemic and get assistance comforts me, and gives me the utmost confidence in the future that I’ll always have someone at my disposal to assist me once things return to normal.”