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How I Turned a Side Hustle into a Million-Dollar Travel Business

Say hello to Trapper Martin. He left his corporate job to pursue a career in travel planning - and it's paying off.

Watson Visuals

Trapper Martin has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. At the age of 12, Martin began his own flower business. By the time he reached high school, he was running a floating restaurant in the middle of an Alabaman lake town. While his career would take him through a tour of culinary management positions, Martin began to cultivate a side interest for travel planning.

"In high school, I organized our senior class trip, and this jump-started my love of travel," Martin recalls. "I used my great-grandfather's travel agent to plan the whole trip on the Big Red Boat, and that's really where everything started. Later, I became the group leader of planning all our personal trips, and as my career moved along, I started to get more serious about travel planning." In 2011, Martin embarked on a fortuitous vacation cruise that would soon alter his career trajectory altogether.

"I booked a trip for the inaugural cruise on Carnival's Magic, and I, pretty randomly, met a Dream Vacations franchise owner on the trip," Martin says. He and his partner Shane (they eventually got married) joined a few tours with the franchise owner while on this trip and got to talking more seriously about what it means to be a Dream Vacations travel agent. This got the wheels turning for Martin—he could finally turn a passion of his into a progressive income. When Martin returned from this trip, he decided to take the plunge and become a Dream Vacations franchise owner. "Everyone thought I was crazy, but I really felt like it was worth it for me," he says with a laugh. "I completed the training and almost immediately started to see some successes with it."

Dream Vacations franchise owner Trapper Martin (right) and his husband Shane.
Image credit: Courtesy of Trapper Martin

At the beginning of his Dream Vacations journey, Martin was still working full-time as a district manager in the food-service industry. But with his increasing success in travel planning, he had to make an important decision. "In year three, I hit roughly half a million dollars in sales, and it became difficult to grow beyond that while still working a full-time job," he says. In 2016, Martin left his full-time job in corporate America to pursue his travel planning ventures full-time. In January 2020, Martin was so confident about the future of travel and the business model that Shane came into the business full-time.

Reaching $1 million in sales despite the global health crisis.

Since making that leap, Martin has grown his business nearly 10x and operates as one of Dream Vacations' top-producing franchises. As any business owner can relate, his success has also been accompanied by trials and tribulations—a more recent one being the COVID-19 pandemic. With the global health crisis inciting international border closures and the travel market essentially grinding to a halt, things seemed pretty bleak for those involved in the travel industry. Though this situation seemed like the perfect storm to upset Martin's business, he was able to achieve over $1 million in sales despite the pandemic.

Martin attributes this success to a mixture of personal effort and Dream Vacations' rapid response and top-notch communications throughout the crisis. "With the rise in cruise cancellations, we had to quickly pivot to focusing on-land travel, and research all of the different avenues to make sure that each trip would be safe for customers," Martin explains. "It was a lot to keep up with, but Dream Vacations was completely on top of maintaining clear communications as new information regarding the virus and travel restrictions came to light. Dream Vacations has been transparent through all of this, and that has not only assuaged a lot of fears but also validated my franchise ownership with them."

For Trapper and Shane, the adventure continues.
Image credit: Watson Visuals

Beyond Dream Vacations' helpful planning to keep franchise owners and their customers protected throughout the pandemic, Martin also believes that his franchise ownership has been validated through the general experience with the company. "This franchise opportunity is unlike any other chain operation I have been a part of," Martin says. "One of the things that I appreciated the most was the support network. Dream Vacations actively encourages you to reach out to other franchisees—there's no MLM or competition involved, everyone wants to see each other succeed," he says.

For travel-planning hopefuls out there, Martin encourages research into Dream Vacations. "With this type of work as a franchisee owner, there is no get rich quick scheme. You have to put in the time and effort, but with all of the training, support, and marketing that Dream Vacations offers, you will be completely set up to make a living from doing what you love."

To learn more about becoming a Dream Vacations franchise owner, fill out the form here.

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