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CruiseOne makes splash with contest for veterans


For the travel franchise CruiseOne, a discount on the franchise fee for military veterans seemed ho-hum. So they launched a splashy contest to award five free franchises to military veterans, and are now in their second year of Operation Vetrepreneur.

Nominations are due September 13 for this year’s contest, and winners will be announced Veterans Day in November, naturally—to lots of hoopla and the mother of all photo opps. In between, entrants go through a rigorous vetting process, culminating in interviews with top franchisor officials.

Isaac & Terry Ingram


“You create a plan and you stick with your plan,” says Isaac Ingram, with his wife and business partner, Terry. 

Tim Courtney says the system examined the profile of their franchisees four years ago, when he joined the brand, and discovered that of some 400 franchises, 80 were owned by veterans. CruiseOne costs $9,800 to start and is a home-based business, which he believes is perfect for veterans. They received 120 nominations the first time around.

Now, Courtney reports 125 veteran-owned franchises of 793 total sold. Contest participants and winners alike seem grateful. “They’re very thankful to who we are and what we do, and we think they will stand out” as franchisees, he says about veterans.

Isaac Ingram was one of five winners last year, and he learned about the contest only five days before the deadline through a CruiseOne executive. “When you call CruiseOne and you inquire, they have a franchise development specialist call you back, and that person works with you through the whole process. That’s a real strong mentor, I would say,” Ingram says.

After putting together a business plan and a marketing plan, he went through three sets of interviews. “Each time I would make it to the next step, like American Idol, and you say, this isn’t happening to me,” Ingram recalls.

“One of the things that you learn in the Navy, in the submarine service, you create a plan and you stick with your plan,” he says. Like all military veterans who become owners, he’s getting a crash course in what it takes to be successful in business: Marketing is key, and he’s always selling. When asked how he’s doing when called for an interview, he replies: “I’d be doing better if you’d buy a cruise.”


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