Not every advisor gets to see their name in lights, but Jennifer Parker is an exception. She’s not in lights, per se. But, she’s certainly in movie credits, and that’s a pretty big thrill.
This trendsetter is a force to be reckoned with in entertainment and production travel. She leads a team of seven for Encino, CA-based Plaza Travel, which brings in $15 million in revenue annually.
As managing director of the entertainment division, she books tours for motion picture releases and reality television travel worldwide. Clients include movie studios, PR firms, production houses, celebrities and studio executives.
Buying out entire first-class cabins and chartering multimillion-dollar aircraft is all in a day’s work. “I don’t fit the mold of any leisure or corporate agent in the industry. It’s more like being a part of a Formula One pit crew,” says Parker.
Time is money for impatient studio executives. And reality show drama is compounded behind the scenes.
“All the things that shock the viewer. Fights, accidents, emergencies, emotional breakdowns. Someone gets kicked out. They all have to go somewhere, fast. I need everything from security and squad cars to caviar and flowers at my fingertips,” says Parker.
And, talk about a clientele that needs hand-holding.
“I had a city in motion one morning to find a white Tom Ford dress shirt that a hotel had lost for a celebrity the day of a family wedding,” says Parker.
Is it worth all that hassle?
“The simple answer is that I love it,” says Parker, a native of Half Moon Bay in northern California. She’s been in travel since high school, when she filed brochures for a local agency. That was nearly 30 years ago.
Parker learned from her first mentor how to cater to big players in another booming industry. She joined Plaza Travel in 2003, a move she describes as “the best thing ever” for her career.
“Over the years [Plaza’s President] Steve Orens and I have worked very hard to develop the entertainment sector of Plaza Travel to where it is now 33 percent of the leisure / corporate / entertainment split,” says Parker.
She feels lucky to have referral business coming in constantly. But, she’s not content with referrals alone.
“There are so many opportunities in the entertainment industry, especially here in Los Angeles. As Steve always says, ‘if you’re just coasting, you’re going backwards,’” says Parker.
Not that coasting ever enters her mind. But when Parker does have time to relax, a mountain hike or beach trip with her husband and dog are favorite de-stressors. She’s a Pilates aficionado. And she recently finished “Looptail” by G Adventures founder, Bruce Poon Tip.
“It’s inspiring to read about his personal journey of discovery,” says Parker.
It’s travel, though, that keeps her going.
In the past few years, she’s taken the ultimate Sky Safari in Africa, and visited Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Asia.
“I can’t leave out my favorite place to relax, which is the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island. It’s a perfect exhale as you drive up to the entrance,” says Parker.