CHEVERLY — Navy veteran Jamar Moore is one of seven military veterans to win the annual nationwide contest “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” and received a free travel agency valued at $12,700.
Moore entered the contest after his wife, Demarest Crawl, found it from doing research on ways the two could try out their entrepreneurial skills. When she came across the contest, they decided to enter. After being given a representative to explain what the contest was all about, there was a long application process to enter the contest that included creating a business plan, a video essay and phone interviews.
“I’ve never thought about it before,” Moore said. “But once I looked at the program, it was a no-brainer.”
In the end, Moore and his wife became the sole operators of the travel agency Dream Vacations – Jamar Moore & Demarest Crawl.
Moore won the contest out of 300 applicants for the contest run by Dream Vacations, the No.1 travel franchise for military veterans.
“The reason that it was started is because we know that veterans are very good at keeping up with franchises because they’re used to following a system being in the military so that replicates very well,” said Director of Recruitment Janet Harris. “Also a lot of veterans have traveled for their service. So we just wanted to bring those two together and we wanted to focus on supporting veterans whether they are returning into civilian life or looking to do so.”
Because of its support for military veterans, the home-based travel agency franchise has received partner of the year, a top-ranking status, by all the major cruise lines and received national recognition.
Dream Vacations is the only travel franchise to receive a five-star ranking from the International Franchise Association’s VetFran initiative and has gotten other positive reviews from Military Times, Entrepreneur and Forbes and additional recognitions such as inclusion on G.I. Jobs annual “Hot Franchises for Veterans,” US Veterans magazine’s “Top Veteran-Friendly Companies” and USA Today’s “50 Top Franchises for Military Veterans.”
Dream Vacations has been holding their “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” contest for seven years in an effort to continue their mission to support U.S. veterans. In previous years, they would award five veterans but this year, they were able to award seven.
Anyone from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard who are retired, off active duty or honorably discharged prior to the contest start date in May are eligible to enter the contest. Many of those who enter and win work with a business partner such as their spouse.
“We have a 90 percent retention rate overall,” Harris said. “We’ve had incredible success with those we’ve worked with in the last seven years.
Now that Moore has won the contest and received his franchise, his vision is to build a client base that comes year-round. Since the contest began, he has been working on coming up with a business plan with a goal of making $50,000 this upcoming year, and up to $500,000 over the next few years.
“We’re selling something that people already want,” Moore said. “It’s pretty easy to say that everyone wants to go on a vacation. Vacations sell themselves.”
Now that Moore is a Dream Vacations franchise owner, his company is part of the World Travel Holdings’ family of brands, one of the top travel retail networks in the world. A benefit to his new business, the company has a lot of buying power with every major cruise line and many tour operators, resulting in low prices and exclusive offers such as upgrades, discounts and more.
As a therapist as well as a veteran, Moore understands the positive impact that vacations have in people’s lives and as part of his vision for his franchise, he hopes to merge the therapeutic elements of a vacation with the recreational aspects of a vacation.
The main initiative of his travel agency will be to send people on cruises. He plans to hosting Couples Cruises and Marriage Retreats at Sea, but also attend marriage enrichment seminars and information sessions to get the tools to build a better marriage. Moore said it will take a while to plan, but he hopes to do many of the cruises next year and the planning will pay off.
“It still feels weird,” he said. “You put a lot of work in and when it finally happens, you’re shocked. It’s been a month and it still feels weird. Hard work pays off.”