Debbie Fiorino serves as Senior Vice President of Dream
Vacations. She is responsible for continuing to grow the company’s
franchisee base and travel sales while providing exceptional
support for these franchise owners. With more than 25 years of
experience in business and leadership, Debbie offers expansive
knowledge in driving strategy and plans for growth and success.
Since joining the company in 2002, she has served as Benefits
Manager, Director of Total Rewards & Corporate HR, and Senior Vice
President of Human Resources. She previously served at companies
including KaBloom, Bertucci’s Corporation (NE Restaurant Company)
and Medical Diagnostics, Inc. Debbie holds a BS from the University
FranchiseExpo: What is the Dream Vacations
franchise opportunity all about?
We believe the
success of our franchisees is our only business. At Dream Vacations
we are committed to providing our franchise owners with the tools
they need to be
owners – this includes
personalized support, best-in-class technology, innovative
marketing, continuous training and so much more. Dream Vacations
makes dreams come true — we make business dreams become a reality
for our franchisees and our franchisees make dream vacations become
a reality for their clients.
FE: Who is your ideal candidate for a Dream
DF: To own a business, especially
home-based, you have to be passionate about what you do. Our ideal
candidate is somebody who is passionate about the travel industry,
has integrity, is eager to learn, energetic and a real
Our franchise owners come from all different backgrounds and
in fact, many have no previous travel industry experience. The one
similarity among them is that they all have a passion for travel
and helping others.
FE: What type of training and support do you
offer Dream Vacations franchisees?
DF: Our franchisees’ success is our only
success, so it is important that they are educated on how to
effectively run their business, current events, business
development skills and more. Our support begins before a contract
is signed and continues through to secession.
All prospects are assigned to a Franchise Development
Specialist who walks them through the franchise buying process,
making sure the prospect understands the Franchise Disclosure
Document (FDD) and is confident in their decision to open a
franchise. Upon signing a contract, new franchisees can immediately
enroll in our Franchise Accelerated Success Training program, which
is known as FAST TRACK, which covers items that can be accomplished
before official training and which will be expanded upon during the
week-long training. FAST TRACK continues for 180-days after
training ends and includes one-on-one coaching as well as 50 free
and low-cost ways to kick-start your business.
New franchisees are always excited to start their business so
it is of utmost importance that they go through training
immediately. Because of this, we host a new training class monthly.
The benefits are they can start running their business right away
and experience a smaller class size, resulting in meaningful
relationships with our headquarters team. At new franchise
training, they learn hard and soft business skills, meet industry
executives and learn about the different cruise and land products
they will be selling, learn how to use our innovative technology
and marketing programs, attend a vendor trade show, tour a cruise
ship and much more.
The education continues beyond the first week. At Dream
Vacations we believe in continuous education both in-person an
online. We host five regional trainings around the country and an
award-winning National Conference aboard a cruise ship where our
franchisees network with each other, learn about what’s new in the
industry and receive company updates. In addition, we hold. We also
have an esteemed online learning management system with more than
500 courses called The Learning Center, which is available on
multiple platforms and on-demand so our franchisees can take
training on their own time via their mobile phones and tablets.
Weekly webinars are also hosted with special guests from cruise
lines, industry organizations and more.
Our support extends beyond training. Every franchise owner is
assigned a regional Business Development Manager who assists with
providing localized marketing support. We also offer a Support
Services team available six days a week with extended hours deep
into the evening, and technical support available 24 hours a day,
seven days a week.
FE: What are some of the advantages in being a
Dream Vacations franchisee?
DF: As a Dream Vacations franchise
owner, you have a business name that reflects what you sell – all
types of vacation experiences. This is extremely beneficial as you
market yourself in your local community.
Dream Vacations is fully invested in the success of our
franchisees. We fully fund more than $1 million a year in lead
generation and $600,000 in exclusive promotions available only to
our franchisees. In addition, we are continually re-investing in
our company – whether it’s expanding our team, enhancing our
technology or offering new programs to assist our franchisees in
Another advantage to joining Dream Vacations is knowing that
you are in the World Travel Holdings family of brands. World Travel
Holdings is the world’s largest retailer of cruise vacations and is
a powerhouse in the travel industry. This means we have incredible
buying power with cruise lines and are able to negotiate exclusive
FE: Are you a member of any
DF: To be a leader, it is important to
be involved in industry organizations so we can have a pulse on
current trends and innovations. We are active in both franchising
and travel associations including:
- International Franchise Association
- Cruise Lines International Association
- American Society of Travel Agents
FE: Tell us a little about the Dream Vacations
Vacations is a travel franchise
, not a cruise
franchise. We sell all types of vacations experiences including
cruises, resorts, tours and more. The travel industry is growing.
In 2016 alone there are 27 new cruise ships being
FE: How successful is your company today and what
are your future growth plans?
DF: Dream Vacations continues to
experience growth. In 2015, we hit the 1,000th franchise milestone.
We believe it is important not to grow too quickly so we can
maintain our high support staff to franchisee ratio. We grow at
about 10 percent year over year.
We are committed to having a franchise network that is “Rich
in Diversity” and we hope to increase the number of military
veteran franchise owners. Right now, 30 percent of our network are
FE: What are your franchisees saying about the
DF: Our franchisees appreciate the
support we provide and that we gave them an option to brand
themselves as Dream Vacations.
“Switching to Dream Vacations was the best business decision
I ever made, I have been receiving so many calls since I started
posting about our transition. I knew this was going to happen,
people needed to know I could help them with more than cruises and
now they do. I love the support I received from Headquarters and
the seamless transition going live!” -
Monica Calenda, Franchise Owner since 2014, Larkspur,
FE: What advice do you have for someone looking to
acquire a franchise?
DF: First, you should conduct a
self-analysis and determine what industry would be the best fit for
you. Once you decide, make sure you do your research and are not
“sold” the opportunity. If it sounds too good to be true, it
Carefully read the Franchise Disclosure Document and consult
with an attorney and accountant. Don’t forget to speak with your
family about your new journey and that you have their
As you go through the Discovery Process, speak with the
franchisor’s leadership team and visit the corporate headquarters.
A franchise is like a family and it is important that you get
along. Call existing franchisees about their experiences, as well
as those who have left and ask why.
Remember, owning your own business is a marathon, not a
sprint, and that owning a home-based travel franchise is not a get
rich quick opportunity.
FE: In your opinion, why do you think that Dream
Vacations would be a great opportunity for someone?
DF: Everybody loves to travel – whether
it’s where they have been or where they want to go. The travel
industry is exciting and constantly evolving.
Dream Vacations is a fantastic opportunity
because it is low-cost (less than $10,000), home-based (no need to
worry about leasing office space or overhead) and there is no
inventory. Also, by being affiliated with Dream Vacations you have
access to the highest commission rates in the industry, so there is
Becoming a Dream Vacations franchise owner also is a great way
to travel the world, at a discount by taking advantage of travel
agent pricing and familiarization trips.