An Interview with President Andi Mysza of Montrose Travel


Andi Mysza
President Montrose Travel

Joanie Ogg recently sat down with Andi Mysza to chat about Montrose Travel and all the exciting developments taking place with their hosting program.

Tell us about Montrose Travel and how long you’ve been in business.

We’ve been in business since 1956. My brother and I grew up in the industry, and we bought the business from our parents in 1990. Since then we’ve grown to a $285,000,000 company and are considered a Top 30 Travel Company nationwide. Our host agency, MTravel, is considered a Top 5 Host Agency and has been supporting independent travel professionals for over 40 years.

What’s the difference between MTravel and Montrose Travel?

Montrose Travel is the name of our company. MTravel is the hosting division of Montrose Travel that works exclusively with independent travel professionals.

What makes Montrose Travel different from other host agencies out there?

Firstly, we’re relationship builders. We don’t have thousands of affiliates, which allows us to spend more time with our agents to get to know them personally as well as their business goals. Maintaining those relationships is hugely important to us, and some of our agents have been with us for over 30 years.

Secondly, our hosting program is bundled. We are big fans of simplicity and refuse to nickel and dime our agents for tools and services that are key to running their businesses. For instance, we are the only host agency to include a private labeled consumer website with online booking capabilities for air, car, hotel, cruises, travel insurance and more for no additional fee. This bundled structure has worked beautifully for all involved and significantly lowers an agent’s overhead.

Firstly, Montrose Travel has been a pillar in the travel industry for decades, both as a retail travel agency and a host agency. Because of this hybrid model, we understand on a personal level what it takes to build a successful travel business from the ground up. Unlike other host agencies, our independent travel professionals work with a private Business Development Team plus have access to over 200 internal employees selling agents who specialize in leisure, corporate, romance, groups, loyalty and incentive travel. We can even provide back-up when you’re out sick or on vacation. That level of advice and support is especially unique to Montrose Travel and can’t be underestimated.

What should someone consider when looking for a host? Aren’t all host agencies offering the same thing?

No. We all vary greatly, even though many start to sound the same once you’re embroiled in a lot of research. In order to sift through all that noise, you have to remember it’s not just about commission split and fees. You’re looking for a stable, reputable business partner whose business philosophies are in line with your own.

It’s important to understand you’re making a complex decision that requires time and research. Do an initial review of their website, compile your list of questions, speak with a live human being, even ask for references. Be open about your needs and expect the host to be open in return. Get the answers to these questions to get a feel for the host’s “intangibles”:

  • Stability – Is the host profitable, stable and in it for the long haul?
  • Reputation, clout, relationships with suppliers – is the host well-known and regarded in the industry?
  • Size and buying power – are they large enough to get higher commissions than what you can get on your own?
  • Support: How does the host demonstrate they care about and support you and your business?
  • Does the host’s product mix match your needs – leisure, corporate, group?
  • Is the host ARC appointed so you can book/sell airfare to your customers?
  • Training/Mentoring – is it ongoing? What subjects do they cover? Do they tailor training to both new and experienced agents?
  • What’s their track record for paying commissions accurately and on time?
  • Do they offer you the technology you need to operate your business such as websites, booking tools, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool)? Does it cost extra?
  • Marketing – how do they help you develop and market your unique brand?
  • Business coaching – do they provide unlimited business coaching whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran with questions about business strategy?

Remember, selecting a compatible host is much like a marriage. You should take a long term approach and feel completely comfortable with your decision with your new business partner.

Does Montrose Travel accept both experienced and inexperienced agents?

Absolutely. We are well-equipped to fulfill the needs of both audiences. For instance, new agents need and deserve in-depth training, hand-holding and business coaching to ensure their businesses have a firm foundation. Experienced agents may need assistance with acquiring larger, more complex accounts (both corporate and leisure), finding new sources of clientele or back-up when they’re overloaded or unavailable. Montrose Travel can provide all of this and more.

You mentioned personalized support and ongoing training were critical to consider when selecting a host. What do you offer your agents in those areas?

First and foremost, the MTravel Business Development/Sales Support team is available by phone and online for all the unexpected questions that come up. This is critical when you’re trying to get a new business started and have little to no industry experience, as well as for established agents who are looking to better manage their existing business. We also schedule one-on-one business coaching sessions either over the phone or even in our offices for those that live/work nearby.

Additionally, we provide an award-winning training program that consists of up to five webinars each week, focusing on the practical tools to grow your business. Our newly redesigned, 9-part Jump Start Series specifically addresses the needs of both new and experienced agents who are launching their business with us, and covers everything from selecting the right financial set-up for your business to navigating available booking tools to sharpening your sales skills as a travel professional. Our 6-part Groups series also teaches agents how to perfect their approach to developing profitable group business, step-by-step. These are just some of the subjects we dig into on a weekly basis.

We also hold a highly regarded Annual Education Conference where our agents can meet with their peers, MTravel staff and supplier Business Development Managers for specialized training, networking, site inspections and more – this year we’ll be in Jamaica! Overall, we take the feedback of our agents very seriously and are consistently creating new training events and opportunities based on their needs and ideas. Our aim is to present the best support and training options possible among host agencies today.

How can Montrose Travel help an independent agent grow his/her business from a marketing standpoint?

Our belief is that you build a successful travel business through a combination of product knowledge, a methodical and consistent marketing approach that brands your company to the same prospect or customer base and sincere, steadfast customer service. There are really no secrets or ways to circumvent hard work, business smarts and education. We coach our agents to continuously develop a prospect/client list and work it personally by phone, face time, e-marketing and direct mail avenues, resources for all of which are supplied in our hosting program. If they do their job right, 80%+ of their business will be driven by repeat and referrals. This is how to develop a loyal clientele. Along the way, we provide tools to assist in these efforts such as our consumer private labeled consumer website, our Client Connex powered by ClientBase CRM program with blast email capabilities, access to Ensemble Travel’s excellent direct mail marketing program, social networking training, and much more.

Does Montrose Travel offer any cool technology or programs?

Yes! We are an extremely technologically progressive company and invest quite a bit into the tools we provide. We have several major pieces of technology that come into play.

  • Our award winning private labeled consumer website with online booking capabilities
  • Agent Connex – our industry leading, proprietary agent back office portal
  • Client Connex powered by ClientBase – A fantastic tool to control your email marketing and stay in front of your prospect base
  • Group Connex – A unique group management program that allows you to market your own groups online and allow clients to book on your site
  • Concur Travel, Deem@Work, iBank and more – specialized online booking and reporting tools for agents handling travel corporate accounts
  • Apollo – for those who need a GDS system

What’s new with Montrose Travel these days?

This has been an incredible year for us! We did a complete overhaul of our marketing website, www.MTravel.com, making it easier than ever for prospective agents to learn about our program. We also launched our 90% Commission Executive Agent Program, designed for experienced travel professionals to enjoy all the bundled benefits of our classic programs, but receive our highest commission tier to date. We’ve also recently launched new Regional Training Events where we meet our agents in multiple cities across the US to do more focused, intimate training and networking. It’s been a very exciting first half of 2015 — but we have even more improvements up our sleeves that we can’t wait to share later this year.
Does Montrose Travel offer any cool technology or programs?

Yes! We have several major pieces of technology that come into play.

  • Our award winning private labeled consumer website with online booking capabilities
  • Agent Connex – our industry leading, proprietary agent support site
  • CRM Program – A fantastic tool to control your email marketing and stay in front of your prospect base
  • Group Management Technology – market your own groups and allow clients to book on your site
  • Rearden, Concur, iBank and more – specialized online booking and reporting tools for agents handling travel corporate accounts
  • Apollo – for those who need a GDS system

What’s the best way for an agent to learn more about joining Montrose Travel?

A great first start is to go directly to www.MTravel.com. All the information is there as well as an excellent Complete Overview Video about our program. The Frequently Asked Questions and Testimonials sections will also provide a great way to get a feel for who we are as accompany and how others feel about us. From there, get in touch! Call us personally at 800-870-5799 or email us at epeters@montrosetravel.com. We’d love to talk to you.