When we met with Steve Orens, president of Los Angeles-based agency Plaza Travel, for our June 2012 cover profile, he told us that walking into his office each morning puts a big smile on his face, every day.
“I have always been interested in moving and expanding my knowledge and relationships. Each day I wake up, I’m excited to work on a new opportunity … I love the people I get to work with,” he told us.
That year, Plaza Travel’s three SoCal locations generated $50 million in sales. Orens attributed the success of the agency, and its gradual evolution from mass market and corporate travel into the luxury arena, to the “special touches” that go into planning customized itineraries. Details include a personal letter to clients from Orens upfront, a flash drive with the clients’ itinerary neatly presented, and passport information, all located in a password-protected program.
Since then, Orens’ continued attention to detail and innovative techniques has allowed for Plaza Travel to flourish, as well as develop a dedicated client base. “We continue to focus on customer service, and gaining clients by referral,” he says. “We have found that our best clients do come from our current clients.”
The agency, a member of the Signature Travel Network, now has two offices in New York and has acquired two cruise-only agencies, as well as an entertainment business.
Not only has Plaza Travel added new locations, but seen growth in terms of annual revenue. In 2014, the agency pulled in approximately $80 million in total sales.
Orens’ love of the travel industry isn’t all strictly on the “business side.” Technology has always gone hand-in-hand with his love of travel, which is easily seen through his passion for blogging and strong presence on social media.
When we spoke with him in 2012, he had been sitting in the VIP lounge of Barcelona El Prat Airport writing and posting photos online of the 14-course meal he had just enjoyed at the El Celler de Can Roca near Barcelona.
His interest for seeking out unique experiences in new destinations, both personally and for clients, remains constant. His most recent travels have taken him to Patagonia, Dubai, Bali, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Tahiti. He's just back from the Waldorf Astoria in Shanghai. "Located right on The Bund, the rooms were great, as was the food and service. The location was perfect for an stroll along The Bund as well as to some great shopping areas. However, Orens says the most notable place that he’s visited in the last year was The Brando, a luxury resort on French Polynesia’s private island of Tetiaroa.
“What an amazing place Marlon Brando and Richard Bailey created. The location is spectacular, the food and service are fantastic, and the staff is among the best I have encountered,” he says.
Orens’ fascination with travel is demonstrated both through his words and the continued growth and success of Plaza Travel.
“There is always something to learn, something new to experience and I feel lucky to be able to be so involved in such a great industry,” he tells Luxury Travel Advisor.