Barry Liben, chairman of Tzell Travel Group, passed away January 2 after a year of health battles at the age of 67. Liben served as chairman of Tzell Travel Group since 2016; prior to that, he was the organization’s president and CEO for nearly 40 years. He additionally had served as CEO of Travel Leaders Group and was a current member of the company’s Board of Directors.
“It is with profound sadness that we share the news that Barry Liben, our friend, boss, mentor and true mensch, passed away last night,” said Cindy Schlansky and Monty Swaney, co-presidents of Tzell Travel Group, in a statement. “He was an icon in the travel industry, a loyal and honest friend, a generous philanthropist, rabid New York Giants fan, a man who loved a good laugh, and above all, a man who adored his family, loved his wife without bounds and found immense joy and pride in his children and seven grandchildren.”
Liben’s strong business acumen, management savvy and leadership skills charted the company’s path to growth and success. Today, Tzell Travel specializes in luxury leisure, corporate and entertainment travel with offices in the U.S. and U.K.
At the time of his initial investment in 1977, Tzell Travel Group employed three people. Liben grew Tzell Travel Group to become one of in the industry’s largest luxury travel agencies with over 700 agents, staff and management. Liben’s philosophy, according to Tzell, was: “Create an environment conducive to initiative and hard work, encourage a sense of fun, then let people do their best and recognize it.”
In 2008, Tzell Travel Group merged with Travel Leaders Group, and from that time until 2015, Liben served as CEO for Travel Leaders Group. He worked in partnership with chairman Michael Batt to grow the enterprise from $7 billion in annual sales volume to nearly $20 billion. During his tenure, Travel Leaders Group acquired Protravel International, Vacation.com and Nexion, while expanding internationally beyond the U.S. and U.K. into Canada, Australia, Ireland and Greece.
In addition to establishing the Protravel and Tzell Foundation in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, Liben’s philanthropic work included serving on a number of high-profile association and community organization boards including the Israel Community Development Foundation and the National Stuttering Association.