David Odaka of All Star Travel Group graced our cover in March 2011, when he filled us in on his exciting business for A-list travelers. Since then, the Los Angeles-based agency, which is a part of Tzell Group and the Signature Travel Network, has forged a partnership with an airport greeter service to form a new business called Airport Concierge Worldwide. “We created this as we needed this service done right,” says Odaka, always a stickler for the details when it comes to his VIP clients.
What’s new? Experiential travel is way up for All Star Travel, he notes, with Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa, South America, Iceland, Australia and New Zealand attracting his clients, who come to him via referral only. His most over-the-top booking was a trip laced with private experiences and special events for an “A-list celeb” who flew a large private jet to Naples, Italy. The client then flew via helicopter to a private estate near Ravello and overnighted in the Presidential Suite at the Hotel Caruso. He then boarded a “huge” chartered yacht to cruise the Mediterranean (think, Amalfi, Capri, Sardinia and Corsica). The voyage ended in Antibes, where the client and his entourage checked in to the top suites at Hotel Du Cap.
Odaka’s personal travels have just taken him to Ritz-Carlton’s Inner Circle meeting, held at the company’s new hotel in Israel.
“The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya is just amazing; it’s bringing true luxury to the Tel Aviv area with a larger full-service hotel,” says Odaka. “It’s about 10 minutes north of Tel Aviv on a very exclusive beachfront city.” He also visited The Norman, a new boutique hotel in Tel Aviv. “It’s not on the beach, but in a very cool neighborhood. I really liked it; its décor and service were right up my alley,” says Odaka, who then continued on to Petra, Jordan and Wadi Rum. He says the photos don’t do justice to the beauty of the area, whose sites are empty of tourists because of bad press from the ongoing war.
Tokyo is Odaka’s new favorite big city. “I don’t know who sent out the memo, but everyone wants to go to Japan,” he says. “I’ve done more bookings there this year than total of last five years." He finds the culture, the food and the art of the country to be just amazing. “We have been adding an ‘art island colony’ called Naoshima to our itineraries over the last five years, and it’s been a huge hit.” Insider Tip: “The only good hotel on the island is called Benesse House; it’s basically an art gallery that poses as a hotel. It’s just amazing,” says Odaka, who had just checked in to the new Miami Beach Edition when we communicated. His takeaway? He was amazed at the luxury service provided in the lifestyle hotel. “From the bell staff to the front desk to the restaurant, it has all been very good and surpassed my expectations.”
In the end, Odaka expressed concerns about how travel will be distributed in the future. “We’re constantly being attacked by the OTAs and deal websites, especially pertaining to rates are no longer clear,” he says. As a result, travel advisors have to work much harder to be sure they have the best rates. “I’m surprised to see the public booking more and more luxury online,” says Odaka. “I believe that our industry is migrating toward true consulting and that more and more revenue will be realized through that and through our knowledge of the product and the destination, as opposed to the old booking/commission model,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor.