Dustin Perkins is a US Coast Guard veteran and owner of Jinni Vacations, a travel agency specializing in making magical memories for military personnel, veterans and families with special needs. Jinni Vacation serves clients nationwide and provides its services at no cost, ensuring everyone has access to make magical memories.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 652
How To Automate Your Business – https://screwthecommute.com/automatefree/
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars
See Tom's Stuff – https://linktr.ee/antionandassociates[02:30] Tom's introduction to Dustin Perkins [09:06] How travel agents work for special needs people [13:57] Handling emergency calls at events [18:25] Success stories [22:45] What's in a name as long as it's not someone else's [24:10] Sponsor message [27:29] A typical day for Dustin
Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars
Screw The Commute – https://screwthecommute.com/
Screw The Commute Podcast App – https://screwthecommute.com/app/
College Ripoff Quiz – https://imtcva.org/quiz
Know a young person for our Youth Episode Series? Send an email to Tom! – firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a Roku box? Find Tom's Public Speaking Channel there! – https://channelstore.roku.com/details/267358/the-public-speaking-channel
How To Automate Your Business – https://screwthecommute.com/automatefree/
Internet Marketing Retreat and Joint Venture Program – https://greatinternetmarketingtraining.com/
KickStartCart – http://www.kickstartcart.com/
Copywriting901 – https://copywriting901.com/
Disabilities Page – https://imtcva.org/disabilities/
Jinni Vacations – https://jinnivacations.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jinnivacations
Email Tom: Tom@ScrewTheCommute.com
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
Wyatt Everhart – https://screwthecommute.com/651/
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Episode 652 – Dustin Perkins
[00:00:09] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey, everybody, is Tom here with Episode 652 of Screw the Commute podcast? I'm here with Dustin Perkins. He's a US Coast Guard veteran, and this is part of Vetpreneur Month. I always mess up saying that Vetpreneur Month on Screw the Commute podcast. Every September we honor our veteran entrepreneurs, but really we're honoring all our veterans for the things they do to keep us safe. So thanks so much to all of them. Dustin is dedicated to making magical memories. Wow. He'll tell us all about that when we bring him on. All right. Hope you didn't miss Episode 651 Wyatt Everhart. Also a Coast Guard veteran, and he's an Emmy Award winning meteorologist who went to the sunny side of the weather by starting a solar business. And plus, I actually saw him eat a grasshopper on live TV. So. So that was episode 651. Anytime you want to get to a back episode, you go to screwthecommute.com, slash and then the episode number. Wyatt was 651 and Dustin is 652. All right. Make sure you pick up a copy of our automation book. This book is amazing. It's it'll save you hundreds of hours of work in fighting with your computer, which you should be using to work with customers and prospects and developing products and services, because that's where the money is.
[00:01:53] So grab your copy of that. We sell it for 27 bucks, but it's yours free for listening to the show. And this isn't any three page little checklist. This is a 60 page e-book, fully illustrated, showing you how to use these automation techniques, and most of them are free or cheap. So check it out at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. While you're at it, pick up a copy of our podcast app It's screwthecommute.com/app. You can put us on your cell phone and tablet and take us with you on the road. And of course, all the links and things we talk about are in our show notes at screwthecommute.com.
[00:02:32] All right. Let's get to the main event. Dustin Perkins is a US Coast Guard veteran and owner of Jinni Vacations, a travel agency specializing in making magical memories for military personnel, veterans and families with special needs. Jinni Vacation serves clients nationwide and provides its services at no cost, ensuring everyone has access to make magical memories. Dustin, are you ready to screw? The commute?
[00:03:08] Absolutely. Yeah. There we go.
[00:03:10] How are you doing, man?
[00:03:11] I'm doing well. How are you.
[00:03:12] Doing? I'm peachy. And thanks for your service. We appreciate. Where were you stationed? In the Coast Guard.
[00:03:19] I was stationed at Port Security Unit 309 out of Port Clinton, Ohio. I was one of 13 deployable units. So I got to I got to see the Coast Guard in action outside the country.
[00:03:32] All right. So wait a minute. So Ohio is not really known for its waterfronts that much, as far as I know. Right. So the Coast Guard is everywhere, is that what you're saying?
[00:03:45] The Coast Guard is everywhere. Special units like mine, which prepare and train to deploy to natural disaster areas and in support of the DOD in the Middle East. I've had my government funded vacations, plenty of them.
[00:04:03] So they weren't exactly. Jinni Vacations.
[00:04:07] Not exactly. Jinni Vacations, no, but but they were they were absolutely necessary. And its experiences, I wouldn't I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
[00:04:18] I get it. It's just that maybe the general public doesn't realize that that the Coast Guard is not just sitting out in the ocean off the coast. So I didn't realize that myself until you just said so. So that's that's pretty cool. Now, you went in right after high school, roughly, or right after college.
[00:04:40] I completed my first my two year degree and I went into the Coast Guard, rather, and went into the military because I was told I couldn't. And and.
[00:04:52] What does that.
[00:04:53] Mean? Well, I had a friend at the time said I was looking at it like, hey, I'll go into the military. And they said, no way, you wouldn't last a day. And I'm like, All right, watch this. So I signed up, raised my right hand, went to boot camp, spent eight years in, and I haven't let them live that out since.
[00:05:16] So you still know them?
[00:05:18] Oh, yeah, exactly. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:05:20] Oh, well, good. Good for you. Thanks so much for that. That service, then. Now, what did you do when you got out? I mean, you didn't go right into Jinni vacations, right?
[00:05:30] No, no, no, no. I studied I.T. and cybersecurity. That's what my degree is in. That's what my certifications are in. I've spent darn near a decade and a half closer to two decades in the industry. And Jinni Vacations is rather a new experience for me, especially since when I started the agency, I knew nothing about travel.
[00:05:58] And it wasn't that. Didn't your wife, like, stimulate the whole thing?
[00:06:02] She did. She did. The story goes. My wife came to me, said, Hey, I want to be a travel agent because she's a she's a stay at home mom. I have six kids. And she wanted to do something while the children were in school. And she's like, I want to be a travel agent. And I'm like, All right, fine. We'll look around, see if we can find an agency that fits our our our needs. And I found out that about 95% of them were pay to play. And being the disgruntled veteran that I am, I'm like, screw this, I'm going to make my own agency. And August of 2019, I started the agency. She was my first agent. And like I said, when I started, I knew absolutely nothing about travel. The only thing driving me was pure spite, and I was pickle with piss and vinegar. And I wasn't going to let anyone tell me I couldn't do something.
[00:06:58] Well, yeah, you already proved that. That didn't work.
[00:07:01] There's there's a trend here. So nearing the end of 2019, I developed a team of about five agents, really good agents, and then COVID hit and 2020 just decimated the entire travel industry. And what we did, instead of shutting down or quitting, I quit doesn't belong in my vocabulary. We circled, we circled the wagons. We focused on training and focused on really what are we here to do? What are we trying to accomplish and who are we trying to accomplish for? And we came up with three main principles. The first one is we are not now, nor will we ever be a pay to play. I don't charge anyone to be part of my team. What I ask for is sweat equity. Essentially, you do the job and you enjoy it because if you don't enjoy it, you're doing it wrong, right? The second principle is we don't want anybody to not be able to use our services due to financial situations, so we don't charge a fee. And the third principle is we identified an underserved demographic of military veterans and families with special needs that have been neglected by other travel agencies. And being a disabled vet myself and having a son on the autistic spectrum, I can relate to the feeling of being on the outside, looking in at these potential vacations, not really knowing if it's even possible for me.
[00:08:36] All right. Now, hold on a second. So you are you saying that the agency started out as just a regular travel agency and then transitioned into the military and veteran special needs community?
[00:08:51] That is correct.
[00:08:52] It didn't start that way.
[00:08:54] It did not start that way. It started it started surely on the idea that. My wife wanted to do it, and I knew we could do it. And then we saw a need, and we filled a need.
[00:09:07] Now, when I learned about this and you, I started wondering a little bit. I have other students that that are kind of experts in the autistic world. And I just wondered when, let's say, take Disney for answer. For for for instance, if you take an autistic child, I mean, there's all kinds of different, I guess, symptoms and things that go on in the autistic spectrum. But couldn't all the the crazy input to their brain really freak them out? I mean, does somebody go with them or their parents go with it? I mean, how does this work?
[00:09:51] You're absolutely right. On any given Sunday in Magic Kingdom, there's about 100,000 people there currently at about 90% capacity. It doesn't look like they're going to go any higher than that. But still 100,000 people at any given day in the Magic Kingdom. A lot of people. A lot of activity. Right. And being understanding of the needs of an autistic child or an autistic individual. This could definitely create a negative experience for them. And but and what we did as an agency is I have focused my agents on becoming subject matter experts and. Identifying ways to cope and navigate that. Like, for example, we do not work with a vendor that does not cater to our underserved demographic. Mm hmm. And Disney, for example, has many different options available to them that can be extended to the the families of these special needs and make that experience the way it should be, as opposed to being subject to the environment and the and being overcome.
[00:11:14] Do they do they provide escorts? Those types of things?
[00:11:18] Well, I'll give you an example. The Disney offers what's called the disability access system. And what this is, is a it's a feature in there. My Disney experience, which is their app on the phone, it's how you plan your day. And what that does is it gives the ability to the special needs family to skip the line, to go in and not have to stand with three or 400 other people in a very long, very cramped line. They would wait elsewhere. It would be like a virtual queue. And then when it's their time, they would go in through the lightning lane, which is a very short, very accommodating area. And they would they would then bypass what would normally set them off, but still experience what Disney has to offer.
[00:12:19] So you still have to kind of be careful with the types of rides and the type. I mean, aren't some of the.
[00:12:26] The exhibits or or things you go into like crazy lights going all over the place and.
[00:12:32] Very, very much so. And all of my agents are aware of possible sensory triggers for the rides and experiences in these parks and experiences. But that's the big focus is that's what makes us different, is the fact that we focus on making sure that the experience for our clients is as good, if not better than. If they didn't possess an otherwise debilitating situation.
[00:13:09] I guess you have to know the client very, very well. More than a typical travel agency.
[00:13:17] Exactly. We are not in the business to just book a vacation. Anybody can do that. An individual can do that from their house and buy themselves. What we're in the we're in the business of doing is building a relationship with these potential clients to be with them 100% every step of the way and offer our experiences along that journey while they're. And they're creating these poor memories. And then when they come back, we're here to celebrate with them all of the experiences that they have accumulated.
[00:13:58] Do you get any emergency calls?
[00:14:01] Oh, yeah.
[00:14:02] From from the actual events that they're attending.
[00:14:06] What types of things?
[00:14:09] Well, like, for example, the the newest ride at Epcot is Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. And this is a fantastic experience, but it has many elements that would be. Points of concern for those who have these sensory disabilities and. What I offer my clients is first that expertise that going in. Yes, this is how this experience is going to go. And if it's if it if it has potential triggers, then we can find an alternative. Maybe this right is not for that.
[00:14:54] How do you determine that? I mean, do you does Disney tell you what new rides are about or how it works?
[00:15:02] Well, I firmly believe that my agents or my advisors can't appropriately cater to our clients without first experiencing it for themselves. So I make sure and I make as many accommodations as possible to allow my advisors to experience this firsthand so then they can express their experiences to these potential clients, and the clients can make the decision whether it's for them or not. We're not going to arbitrarily tell them, Oh, you can't do this right because of X, Y and Z. We're going to offer them our experience and our understanding of what the ride entails and then allow them to make their own decision.
[00:15:47] All right. Now, we mentioned Disney, but they're all there's all kinds of vacations people can go on. What what other kinds of things do you book them into?
[00:15:58] Well, we have quite the catalog. We Disney, naturally, is one of the largest, largest vendors. We work with Universal. We work with SeaWorld. Now, for the longest time, SeaWorld was not very accommodating, but rather recently, within the last six months, they have become certified autism friendly with the help of Sesame Place. And we because they have taken those extra steps to cater to to our demographic, we are now working with them. We work with many different cruise lines, Celebrity Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Disney, of course. And each one of these cruise lines have accommodations for mental, physical disabilities and also accommodations for those who are serving and have served in the military.
[00:16:54] Wow. This is a big deal. And I was thinking like, oh, well, maybe they're going to go to a petting zoo in Virginia Beach. So is that all big, big vacation stuff that you asked for help with?
[00:17:08] No, no. We are here to help, regardless of the destination. If they want to go to a petting zoo in Virginia Beach, we're here to help. And like I said, we're not in the business of checking a box every time a vacation has been sold. We're in the process of developing these relationships with our clients. And if those relationships turn into, they want to use our our expertise and our ability to help. On a petting zoo in Virginia Beach, then so be it. But our main focus is to make sure that our clients are experiencing as much as they possibly can, regardless of their situation.
[00:17:50] Magical memories, right? Yep. Is this a non profit? I mean, you say you don't charge them anything as everyone volunteer here or how. How's the finances work of this? How do you afford to do this?
[00:18:04] Well, it's a little known fact that commissions are built into every sale, whether you book your vacation by yourself or whether you book it through someone like us.
[00:18:16] So it's commission based. All right.
[00:18:18] From the it is.
[00:18:19] From Disney places. Yeah. Okay, that's fine. That's I was thinking, how could this persist? Tell me some of your success stories. I know you have loads of them because everybody's having those magical memories. But anything in particular stand out?
[00:18:36] Yeah, like. Like as each one of these experiences are notable in their own right. A couple that do that do stand out would be this was a a disabled veteran husband and wife. The husband was a veteran. And they had physical disabilities, but they really wanted to ride the Avatar ride at Disney. Well. I have personally attempted to ride that ride and I took on that that booking myself because I had the experience. My, my agent didn't experience that ride yet. So I took on that booking and spoke with the couple and told them, listen, this this ride was the brainchild of James Cameron because it was built on the Avatar movie series. And it is not accommodating at all. And I have expressed to them, you're you're willing you're more than willing to give it a shot if you'd like. And we can set you up with a gas palace to get you on the line. But this is just a warning ahead of time that you're probably going to be sat down and realize that this is not mobility friendly and you're going to be escorted off the ride. And because of that, they decided to opt out of that, but instead. We reserved a a booking a reservation at Victoria and Albert's, which is one of the more exclusive restaurants at Epcot. And they had their honeymoon dinner there instead of this non accommodating ride.
[00:20:34] So we were thrown up there. Dinner, probably.
[00:20:38] Probably. Basically, we took a potentially negative situation and because of our experience and our attention to detail, we were able to turn into something truly magical.
[00:20:50] That is that's just a beautiful, beautiful story. And I'm sure you got hundreds and hundreds of them.
[00:20:56] Oh, yeah.
[00:20:57] So it's a far cry from cybersecurity.
[00:21:00] It is. It is. Cybersecurity is still a very deep passion of mine. I love it. I'm still technically in the field, but as a as a mentor and advisor, rather than punching a time clock, I'm. I've always been, to a degree, a mentor, whether it be in cybersecurity or whether it be in travel. To that end, we have partnerships with other travel agency owners where we developed relationships with other travel agencies, while the travel agency owners to develop a community that reached outside of Jinni vacations that could then do good to our client base. So we're not just in the market of booking vacations. And I know I've said that before. We're in the market to make experiences happen. And if that happens to be with another agency, so be it. We are. I have noticed in creating this agency that many of the older agencies exude kind of a cutthroat way of doing things. And just as the mentality to start the agency with screw that, they the mentality to be ruthless and expand at all costs is also screw that. We're in the screw.
[00:22:36] That's a screw you.
[00:22:38] That's a screw you. Exactly. So we're we are truly motivated by helping people, not just by making the sale.
[00:22:47] All right. What's the name thing, though? Because if I just said this online, people would never find it.
[00:22:54] No, no, no, no. Well, the story goes. When we first started back in August 2019.
[00:23:00] We pronounced Janie right.
[00:23:02] And it's pronounced Janie. And the original name for the for the company was Pixie Dust Travel. And when I was registering the agency with Disney, they said, sorry, pixie dust is intellectual property. You can't use it. All right, fine. Well, my wife was a huge fan of Aladdin, loved Robin Williams as Genie. So we said Jinni Vacation. I went back to Disney and they said, Sorry, the word genie is intellectual property. And I'm like, You've got to be kidding me. So we we got a little creative and found out that the original root word for Genie was gin. Gin. So we started Jinni vacations. And when I called up the representative at Disney to register the agency, she laughed and said, You just got in by the skin of your teeth.
[00:24:00] Well, you got in, though.
[00:24:03] I got in.
[00:24:04] Exactly so.
[00:24:06] And and and the rest is history.
[00:24:09] Well, that's such a great story. So we've got to take a responsive break. And when we come back, we'll ask Dustin what a typical day looks like for him. And also, I'm kind of wondering how come you didn't fix up all these election people, you know, screaming about the election? You're the cybersecurity expert. You should fix it all, like, instantly.
[00:24:34] Well, I. I know when to keep my nose out of business.
[00:24:41] I understand. So, folks, I. Oh, geez. But it's been 28 and a half years now since I started selling online when the commercial and Internet started around 1994. And then about half way since then, I thought, you know what? There's so many scammers out there. There's so many unscrupulous people, there's so much noise out there. I'm going to do something to set myself apart. So I, I took a three year jaunt into the government world, I guess you would call it, in that I took three years to get the license for the only licensed, dedicated internet and digital marketing school in the country, probably the world. And so I got the license for that to set myself apart. And I mean scrutiny as background checks. It was. Criminal checks. It was financial checks, curriculum checks, all this stuff. And so we got this school going. And it's a it's a beautiful thing for people that want to work from home. You can not only learn from home, but you can be legitimately hired for moment. I've been preaching this for 20 some years, and when the pandemic hit, if there is any kind of silver lining, it's that people said, oh, you can work from home. I didn't know. Yes, I've been doing it for 45 years, long before the Internet started. So we started this school and then we started giving scholarships to military first responders, law enforcement and nurses. So we give a 50% scholarship to them. And we have a program for persons with disabilities where we have a Go Fund Me campaign to fund their scholarships.
[00:26:23] And we have we're starting a Patreon for this podcast with all the money going towards funding the scholarships for the persons with disabilities. So, so check it out at IMT VA org if you want to get your child or I mean, we have three types of students. We have people that don't want to go to a four year college and waste their time. And we have people that have been displaced from their jobs and want to keep their lifestyle up and then retirement people that want to increase their income in the retirement years. So so it's it's really powerful. It's certified to operate by the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia. But it's distance learning. So it's good distance learning, not the kind of stuff they're shoving down your your kindergartners throat. And, you know, you'll learn a skill that's in super high demand in about six months to a year, depending on how fast you work. So check it out at IMTCVA.org. And then if you're military puts slash military and you'll see all the veterans and the folks that we've helped in the military.
[00:27:30] All right. Let's get back to the main event. We got Dustin Perkins here. He's on a mission to make magical memories for people that are, as he calls it, underserved. And I absolutely agree with that. So so, Dustin, what's a typical day look like for you? Do you have a morning routine? Do you get up early? Do you what do you eat? Do you work out what's what's the story?
[00:27:52] Well, thanks to the military, I've always been an early riser. So 5:00 in the morning, 430, 5:00, I'm usually up and checking email and then right at 6:00, my advisors know that I'm available to them. I don't personally sell any vacations. And what I what I call myself is my my advisor's chief cheerleader. So I am here to help them, provide them with the tools. They need some resources and they know that it's 6:00. I'm available and this is 6:00 Eastern time and I have agents all over the country. Mm. So my, my day usually precedes just hour after hour of help of handling questions or concerns, whether it be from my advisors or whether it be from my clients. And then it's a great deal of study. One thing I've noticed about travel, just like any other profession, the education doesn't stop.
[00:28:58] Well, that's what I was thinking about. Cybersecurity. I mean, talk about change. I mean, every day there's a new virus trying to try to hit the world. But what happened to the kids? Six kids. And you can just get up and start working and not no trouble.
[00:29:13] Well, I am incredibly lucky to have children that are somewhat self sufficient. My my children are ages 20 to 7.
[00:29:28] And you made it. If they're self sufficient, you and your wife or whoever is helping you made them that way.
[00:29:35] We did. And we give them a significant degree of independence. Now, there are some things they can't do, like drive themselves to school. But but when it comes to starting their day, just as I start mine and I try to lead by example, they're usually ready to go and they let me know, wow. Ready to go to school.
[00:29:56] So you got them trained. Great. Most of the time, people were trying to set fire under the bed to get the kids up.
[00:30:08] Well, we what we do when it comes to our children is we try to make everything enjoyable. Not everything is punitive. And that's just the way I was raised. That's the way that we raise our children. And they're legitimately and honestly looking forward to the beginning of every day because it's another adventure. It's another opportunity to to do great things.
[00:30:32] Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Well, this is a great thing you've embarked on and helping a lot of people that would not, like you say, underserved. Underserved would not get help and not have these memories if it wasn't for you. So. So kudos to you for that. And thank you. So. Tell them how they get ahold of you. Spell the thing out for us.
[00:30:54] So we are. Since we were born out of COVID, we have a massive social media presence. Our website is jinnivacations.com And we are also on Facebook at Jinni Vacations. And we are ever ready to help those that want to embark on this journey and want us along for the ride.
[00:31:21] That's that's beautiful. But but can anybody that's not in those fields still use your services?
[00:31:28] Absolutely. We will help anyone. We'll book anybody. But what I make sure is we're ever ready to handle those situations where the client thinks I can do this. Yes, you can. Yes, you can.
[00:31:43] Yeah. I saw a quote from you. I wanted to end on that. Those memories are for you, too, and we're going to make it happen. That's Dustin Perkins from Jinni Vacations. Thanks so much for coming on.
[00:31:57] Well, thank you for having me.
[00:31:58] All right, everybody, this is part of Vet Preneur Month on Screw the Commute podcast. We love our veterans and we encourage you to support them in any possible way you can buy their stuff, support them, be available for them because of the sacrifices they made for us. All right. We'll catch you on the next episode. See you later.