Passion Is Key to Entrepreneurial Success
Rather than walk down the aisle, partners Doug St. Clair and Sue Commesso decided to take the next big step in their relationship . . . marrying their passion for travel with business ownership.
It may seem that St. Clair, a former IT manager, and Commesso, a nail salon owner, have an odd foundation for franchise ownership in the travel industry, but they found their previous skills bring a much-needed adrenaline boost to their business startup. While Commesso comes with a pre-existing network of client interaction, and St. Clair brings technology that streamlines their operating and marketing approaches, both have a thirst for exploration and have adopted a mentality of valuing experience over material possessions.
Their decision to turn their passion for travel into a home-based travel agency business was the perfect match.
The dating game—researching the best opportunity.
Entrepreneurs have three options when opening a travel agency; they can be independent, become affiliated with a host agency or own a travel agency franchise. In doing their research, St. Clair and Commesso quickly discovered that, by partnering with a larger franchise, they would receive a pre-packaged toolset to kick start their business paired with the negotiating power of a dominant player in the field. They also “dated” several franchise owners—gaining valuable insight by booking vacations with several franchisees and randomly interviewing owners listed in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).
Their decision to pursue a Dream Vacations franchise ultimately came down to something beyond just tools and buying power—it was the people. St. Clair notes that “every person we interacted with made us feel like partners in the same pursuit. In the end, we chose a franchise community.”
Passion breeds success.
It’s common knowledge that if you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life. This is especially true as a business owner because it is necessary to self-motivate and set goals, and passion will drive that enthusiasm. St. Clair and Commesso believe in the importance of being passionate about your commodity and your client community.
St. Clair says, “Recognize that the relationships you build are just as important as the product you are trying to sell, and it’s never too early to begin building those relationships. We have found that selling the product comes easily once you have first sold yourself.”
Passion is the biggest motivator when it comes to overcoming obstacles. Their biggest challenge has been juggling new business ownership within their existing hectic schedules of parenting, working their 9-5 day jobs and the normal daily grind. They are finding that operating their new business occupies every remaining moment, whether they are networking and self-promoting, researching, building and quoting client itineraries, or continuing education.
This reinforces their belief that you must be passionate about your commodity. St. Clair notes, “We don’t mind that all of our free time is now consumed by our business because we are truly doing what we love.”
Their passion for travel has impacted their bottom line and made them among the most successful franchise owners in their graduating class.
There are so many benefits to pursuing a travel franchise opportunity—from the travel perks to the business resources at your fingertips. But for St. Clair, the best aspect of owning a franchise is the community that comes with it. “We have built many supportive relationships with personnel both from our Dream Vacations corporate headquarters and from within our peer network of franchise owners. There is definitely a strong camaraderie among everyone involved. We celebrate one another’s success, and rally around those in need of extra help.”
St. Clair’s closing advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “Nothing compares to being able to say that you are an entrepreneur. Discover what you are passionate about, find a franchise with a toolset and backing community that will push for your success and then put everything you have into making it happen.”
Dream Vacations is a home-based travel agency franchise with more than 1,100 owners nationwide. As an experiential brand, Dream Vacations is the only travel franchise opportunity to have a name that speaks to the variety of vacation experiences its franchisees sell. For more information, visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com.