Doing what you really love out of the comfort of your own home sounds too good to be true, but this daughter of immigrants, has created a thriving business doing just that!
Aggie Batista was born and raised in New York City, but comes from a classic immigrant family. Her mother, a member of a Spanish theatre group, was a citizen of Colombia, and her father, an artist, hails from the Dominican Republic, and they both came to America to further their educations.
Aggie started out teaching theatre, and credits the arts for many of the good things in her life.“The arts are an amazing foundation for your personality,” she says. “They teach you how to speak up and to go after what you want without fear.”
Self Assessment Drill
While she loved teaching theatre and working with families, Aggie wanted her own business. She got started by doing a self-assessment drill to find the right industry. As she explains, “Owning a business is something that we do for a long time because it takes time to grow and become successful, so why not sit down and be true to yourself and evaluate yourself?” So, Aggie made a list of her likes, dislikes, and what kind of work would mesh with her personality and values. Her answer was the travel industry, in part because she had done the planning for family trips as a child, and loved doing it.
Owning a business is something that we do for a long time because it takes time to grow and become successful, so why not sit down and be true to yourself and evaluate yourself?
Her parents’ command of English was limited, so Aggie made the plans for her large family to visit Colombia or the Dominican Republic on vacations. “I remember talking with travel agents on behalf of my parents, saying, ‘Oh, we’re trying to do this. What works best for us?’ And I would look through the brochures and be inspired about all these destinations. So you see, I had the seed of travel already in me.”
I never worked in the travel industry before,” she explains. So, why not partner up with someone who is already recognized worldwide?
The Advantages of Franchise Ownership
After doing her homework, Aggie chose to buy a franchise with CruiseOne/Dream Vacations because she had no experience in the travel business. “ I never worked in the travel industry before,” she explains. So, why not partner up with someone who is already recognized worldwide?”
Along with the power of a well-known brand came thorough training at the home office in Fort Lauderdale, as well as ongoing marketing support including lead generation and advertising and promotional materials ready to use in Aggie’s local newspaper, programs nearly impossible to duplicate when starting a business of your own from scratch.
Financing Your Franchise
Aggie was pleasantly surprised to discover that she could launch her new business for less than $10,000, and that CruiseOne/Dream Vacations also helped with financing if required. But because the costs were so affordable, Aggie was able to finance her franchise through savings and a little help from her family. Her family pitched in with some additional free services to help her get started too. Her brother, an IT expert, set up her home office with state of the art technology, and her sister offered free bookkeeping services.
Becoming a Successful Franchisee
Aggie quickly learned, however, that just because you’ve opened your doors, and placed an ad in the local paper, customers don’t start calling automatically. “You have to really introduce yourself to people,” says Aggie. “You have to go out there, and you have to be creative at all times.”
She’s also realized that the best way to build a business is to develop a network of customers that no one else can duplicate, that is, to service your own community. Even though most people speak English where she lives, the fact that Aggies is fluent in Spanish has given her access to an even larger network of people who love to travel.
You have to really introduce yourself to people. You have to go out there, and you have to be creative at all times.
One of her most successful innovations is taking prospective customers on tours of the cruise ships when they’re docked in New York harbor or Bayonne, New Jersey. “I give them a tour of the ship and all the amazing features in the world of cruising and then we end it with a wonderful lunch that inspires people to book cruises.”
Aggie the Travel Lady
Six years ago when Aggie started with CruiseOne/Dream Vacations, she only worked part-time supplementing her other income, but now Aggie has expanded her business, and has hired her first employee to handle the extra workload. Now she’s not just selling cruises, but around the world tours and resort vacations too. “People not only look at me as somebody that does cruises, but as Aggie the travel lady — that’s what they call me around here — that sends everybody around the world.”