Since founding his agency in 1978, Rudi Steele of Rudi Steele Travel in Dallas has always felt it was his personal obligation to ensure that his clients, comprised of A-list celebrities, the ultra-affluent and high-profile medical physicians, were 100 percent satisfied with the services they received.
“That’s why most of my loyal clients realize they cannot find on the web what I try to create for them,” he told us. “My job is to sit down with people and feel them out, to determine what they are really looking for. That’s why it is so important to really get to know your clients well. You can give someone an example of an itinerary, but I don’t want to do the same trip I’ve done for someone else. It has to be personalized.”
In fact, he won’t do the same trip for a client if the experience isn’t going to add up to what it was the first time. “So many times you create something which is very special for the client, whether it was a special occasion or it just worked right. Many times when clients come to me and say, ‘well, let’s do that again,’ I’m very hesitant. I’m very straightforward and tell them you can go back to a hotel if you have a favorite room, but you cannot recreate some special happening or moment. You can’t.”
Steele’s commitment to a truly customized travel experience has remained virtually unchanged.
“I am still taking care of my select upscale clientele and now on the third generation in my client base,” he says. “Clients are now located all over the world, which no longer creates a problem because of ease of communication.”
He also continues to be affiliated with Virtuoso; his personal annual sales revenue is sitting at $2 million, as he’s being very careful and selective about taking on new referrals. “That’s right, I’m cutting back, trying to enjoy a more leisurely life,” he tells us.
He reports he is still helping clients with WWI and WWII trips since he’s quite connected with both — his father served in the First World War and both his brothers served in the second. Steele recently arranged “an over-the-top totally private WWII sites trip for a couple. They visited nearly all WWII sites with guides who served in WWII.”
His own most recent travels had him sailing the Mekong River on the Aqua Mekong (“the best,” he says). Then it was up to Lhasa, Tibet, and “something I’ve always wanted to do.”
His most recent hotel visit was to The Peninsula Hong Kong. “It’s had the best facelift I have seen in many years,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “I have been staying at the hotel since 1968 but I have never seen it looking better, and the staff is tops. It will always be my home in Hong Kong.”
Now that Steele is scaling back a bit, he’s hoping to hit the road even more. “There are still quite a number of places that are on my bucket list. Now that I am taking more time for myself I hope to narrow that list down,” he says.