ontrose Travel, a single-location,
full-service agency in the Los Angeles area with $115 million in
sales, will be sending 90 inner-city children on a summer vacation
of a different sort this year.
For the first time, the agency will be providing 90 asthmatic
children with the chance to attend a special camp sponsored by
Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles.
Montrose Travel donated a check for $20,000 to Chris Ho,
president of the Barlow Medical Group and director of the
Children's Asthma Camp; Margaret Crane, chief executive officer of
Barlow Respiratory Hospital, and Gary Steinhauer, vice president of
fund development for the Barlow Foundation.
"We are pleased to make this special gift contribution to Barlow's
Children's Asthma Camp," said Joe McClure, president of Montrose
Travel. "It is a wonderful feeling to know that Montrose Travel can
be involved in making children happy and carefree, the way every
child should live."
Montrose Travel's contribution will provide a valuable resource
to children suffering from the chronic illness. Asthma is the
sixth-most prevalent chronic condition in children in the U.S.;
annual costs associated with the illness are about $11.3
Since 1997, Barlow Respiratory Hospital has hosted the annual
Children's Asthma Camp for residents of Los Angeles County each
summer in conjunction with the Los Angeles Chapter of the American
Barlow's medical staff of physicians, nurses and therapists
provide all the medical treatment and services, supplies and asthma
education and training.
The weeklong camp -- this year taking place at Camp Marston, a
mountain retreat near the town of Julian in San Diego County --
targets inner-city children ages 8 through 12 who have been
diagnosed with moderate to severe asthma. While at the camp,
children receive asthma management education, learn how to
recognize and avoid asthma triggers and receive instruction on how
to understand and properly use medications and
Supporting charitable causes is nothing new to Montrose Travel.
Since 1992, the firm has been very big on contributing to
children's charities and has been involved with several other
causes before working with Barlow.
The agency donated travel packages to help raise more than
$150,000 to build a neonatal unit for the Glendale Memorial
Hospital. It also has been involved in annual fund-raising efforts
for the Crippled Children's Society and helped raise more than
$25,000 for the Children's International Network, $18,000 for the
Foundation for the Junior Blind and $30,000 for the ALS
Joe McClure added that between 20 and 30 employees at Montrose
Travel are parents of young children with asthma, so the agency
wanted to make a difference that would touch the children and staff
"Our motivation for getting involved in fund-raising is no
different than anyone else who wants to give back to the
community," explained McClure.
"We like to do it quietly, but always let our employees know
what causes we are getting behind to give them a sense of
-- Michele SanFilippo
All in the family
stablished in 1956, Montrose
Travel is a family-owned agency that has grown from 14 employees in
1990 to more than 200 employees in 2000.
Since Joe McClure, his wife, Julie, and sister Andi
McClure-Myzsa purchased the Montrose, Calif., agency from parents
Joe and Leora McClure in 1990, it has grown from a $4 million
leisure agency into a $115 million travel management firm.
Montrose's commercial division specializes in corporate travel
management, with programs designed to help companies control and
decrease business travel expenses. Its leisure division specializes
in selling Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and cruises; its group,
meetings and incentive division handles groups and meetings of all
"We're a family-owned agency with a truly tight-knit feeling and
very little turnover," said president Joe McClure.
McClure knows who to credit for the firm's success.
"It is the employees who have built this business, and we are
very loyal to them and try to give back whenever we can," he
Agents at Montrose Travel receive a salary plus monthly
incentives, annual bonuses, 401K plans and medical benefits.
To foster increased productivity with agents, three years
Montrose Travel started a President's Club for million-dollar
producers. The club currently has 27 members.
These agents and their spouses are rewarded to group weekends
that feature golf, spa treatments and other activities.
The agency also hosts two success parties a year,
rewarding employees with bonuses, gifts and incentives.
Are you reluctant to sell insurance?
n an earlier column, I made an inventory of the
major benefits of selling travel insurance. There are plenty. But
why are many of us still so reluctant to sell it? Here are some of
my theories:Travel insurance feels like a complex product. Yet if you read
the insurance company's informational material very carefully, it's
actually fairly clear-cut. Plus sales reps can answer any of your
You had a bad experience once with a claim. This does happen,
but it's often because we (or the client) didn't fully understand
the rules and regulations.Selling it makes you feel like an insurance agent, not a travel
counselor. And few people like insurance agents.It takes time to sell. Travel insurance companies, however, are
doing all sorts of things to make that process far easier and
swifter.It hasn't become a habit yet, so you're just not used to
offering it.It requires us to get nosy with clients. We have to discuss
things like pre-existing conditions. Surprisingly, though, most
clients are willing to talk about their state of health. Some are
even eager.It seems to undermine the positive experience that a vacation
should be. Here we are, spending all our time convincing clients
that a great vacation awaits them, then we must start with that
"but suppose ..."
I suspect this last issue might be the biggest one for most
agents -- one that's rarely voiced, but I think, deeply
influential. And there's actually a good way around it.
Try to portray the need for travel insurance in positive terms,
as protecting an investment. It also can be a response to a
client's objection: "I can't leave for the flight until Saturday.
What happens if the flight is delayed and the ship leaves without
me?" Easy answer: insurance.
The bottom line: Offering travel protection should become an
automatic step in your sales efforts if you want to be earning as
much money as possible.
Marc Mancini is a professor of travel at West Los Angeles