A love of logistics and learning about the world leads Michael Holtz to create a new kind of luxury travel company.

First comes the thrill. A trip to the Hershey chocolate factory — what greater wonder at age 5? At 7, a flight to London, with the big clock and the solemn Beefeaters in their fuzzy black hats. But by the time ­Michael Holtz, BS ’87, enrolls at Washington ­University, travel is also a game. 

These are the early days of frequent-flyer ­promotions, and both Newark and St. Louis are TWA hubs. By flying back and forth from his Long Island home and routing stops in Columbus and Chicago, he can hit six sectors and win a free trip to Hawaii. A born logistics whiz, he majors in industrial ­engineering and, for a ­Fortran class, expands Ozark Air Lines, drawing spokes to cities not yet serviced and writing ­commands to move a fleet of three DC-9s around. 

Now, he is obsessed with travel efficiency. At ­airport counters, he picks up all the timetables (tech is still low) and studies them the way other people read novels. Soon he can rattle off the best route ­anywhere for anybody who asks, a skill he brings to the ­company he starts in 1990. Holtz’s SmartFlyer caters to ­“luxury travel” — but not as it is usually defined.