In Memoriam: Advisors Offer Thoughts and Memories of Barry Liben

In Memoriam: Advisors Offer Thoughts and Memories of Barry Liben


Last week, Barry Liben, chairman of Tzell Travel Group, handed away. He had a long-lasting influence on the enterprise, serving because the group’s president and CEO for practically 40 years and chairman of Tzell Travel Group since 2016. Industry leaders and Tzell advisors have shared their ideas and recollections of Liben with Luxury Travel Advisor. Here’s what they needed to say:

Awilda Gonzalez, SVP, operations and engagement at Tzell Travel Group

“What started out as a ‘job’ turned into a career because of BARRY. (Caps automatic). What started out as a job, turned into a second family because of Barry. He believed in me and helped me realize my strengths. Today, as SVP of culture and operations, I use everything that I learned from Barry, plus what he already saw in me. Barry was my boss, my friend, my mentor. He taught me it was OK to have fun at work, let the kid inside out every now and again. He showed me the value of loyalty, honesty. And most of all, good guys can finish first. I will miss him always.”

Leslie Tillem, Eltee Travel Group, a division of Tzell Travel Group

“I met Barry almost 20 years ago when he wanted me to join Tzell. That meeting was all it took to make my decision. While Barry was a highly regarded industry icon and leader to all of us at Tzell, he was my friend and I admired him for so many reasons. He was always honest, fair and a mentor to so many of us. I remember looking forward to our monthly Tzell meetings. His incredible sense of humor and timing was always the highlight. I will forever remember him as the quintessential family man who always made time for the people that mattered most.  As busy as we can be in travel, Barry lived for his family and as I witnessed his dedication to them that lesson helped me keep the priorities in my life straight. He was a leader and an inspiration to all of us and loved by so many. To Barry, I’d like to thank him for the memories and the many life lessons. He will be forever dearly missed.”

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Cathleen Casey, Tzell Travel Group

“It is hard to overstate the impact a strong mentor can effect on a life. Barry Liben’s presence in mine will last a lifetime. My time with Barry was relatively short compared with some of my colleagues, who worked with him for decades. I had just one. But it was more than enough to realize what an extraordinary man he was. I quickly learned that Barry could always be counted on to simplify the seemingly most intractable problems in an instant by boiling things down in a few questions. His office door was always open to me when I needed his advice or to just to visit and have a few laughs. I told him once that his sense of humor reminded me of Groucho Marx, to which he responded that this was the greatest compliment I could ever have bestowed upon him. His wisdom, generosity, humor, loyalty, spirit and joie de vivre live on through all of us he touched, and we are all better humans for having shared his world.”

Steven Bear, Bear & Bear Travel, Tzell Travel Group

“In September of 2008, Bear & Bear Travel began our first day at Tzell as ICs. The Friday prior, I obtained a name from Barry Liben wanting me to listen to from his mouth that Tzell Travel Group was bought by Travel Leaders Group and any agreements we made in writing or handshake would all the time be honored. Our first day, Jody Bear, myself and all the Bear & Bear crew had been amazed on how fluid the day, after which month, went. September was solely devoted to Show Time for the style world, which was our area of interest enterprise on the time, this meant plenty of tickets, modifications and calls for. Our first month turned out to be the very best month our enterprise ever produced, our workers was wonderful, however Barry made certain each division had a presence in our workplaces with a purpose to circumvent any issues shortly.

“October 2008, the bubble burst, as many other businesses the fashion world ground went down to a halt. We. for all purposes. were out of business and 12 faces looking at us for guidance. In November of 2008, Barry called me to his office: He said, “Steven, I never saw anyone in business get the s—t kicked out of them like you did.” We solely labored below the Tzell umbrella for two-and-a-half months, but we met quite a few instances to barter however for all sensible functions aside from status, we had been strangers. Barry instructed me, ‘Don’t fear, I’ve acquired you lined, no matter you want, nevertheless you need to run your corporation I’ve acquired your again.’ If we had been at a distinct company, we might have had our possessions in a field and, at the very best, seated in a gap within the wall and instructed to fireside our workers. Today, we’re solely within the concierge/luxurious journey enterprise with workplaces in New York and Seattle. There was no approach on the earth we might have been in a position to be on this place if it wasn’t for Barry Liben.”

Marian Lyn, Status, an affiliate of Tzell Travel Group

“Barry is the true story of a self-made man. He was my buddy, a job mannequin and a beautiful CEO. He was household to me and all the Tzell household. I’m so extremely pleased with and in love together with his spouse, kids and grandchildren. They had been Barry’s life, and anybody might see the pure pleasure on his face every time he spoke of them. He cherished his household a lot and it was inspiring and all the time confirmed. Barry was and endlessly be the nucleus of the Tzell household. He was an unimaginable chief for us. Barry had that God-given present of with the ability to ‘read’ individuals and act off of instinct. We shared most of the similar values: ‘My word is my bond;’ be trustworthy; work onerous; and produce a bit of ‘crazy,’ which I did and but that door was all the time open, and he was all the time reachable.

“The lack of Barry is immeasurable. Barry was the voice within the journey agent neighborhood and all the time fought the battle for us. He led us and laughed with us.  Barry knew how onerous the brokers labored day and evening and acknowledged our dedication. He constructed a piece household and I hope he was so pleased with these accomplishments. Barry really redefined the journey business. He was loyal to us and all the time did what was proper for everybody. In addition to being among the finest negotiators, Barry was among the finest storytellers and ‘roasters,’ preserving us all in stitches at our annual social gathering to acknowledge years of companies at Tzell. Only he might be that visible storyteller. Barry all the time despatched out yearly comfortable birthday messages; he needed to ensure we knew that he cared. Barry gave us a enjoyable work setting, crammed with ice cream and bingo. When we might have our ‘fireside’ chats, we might chortle so onerous in Barry’s workplace.

“Barry would always ask, ‘How are you?’ ‘How is your family?’ ‘Are you taking care of yourself?’ And the conversations would always end in ‘Be good, stay out of trouble and I LOVE YOU.’ My friend, Barry, I will miss him dearly! May he rest in peace and hope he knows how much he meant to us. I will miss our fireside chats and the laughter and will love him forever. I have the memories, so I did not lose Barry, but I have 20 years of memories which I forever cherish. I am TZELL!”

Andi Henig, A Team Tours, an affiliate of Tzell Travel Group

“It was the winter of 1992, approach earlier than everybody had cell telephones and laptops. If you had work to do you stayed on the workplace and labored into the evening. Alan and I had been engaged on a nationwide tour of a gaggle of comedians headed by Dennis Leary. Barry had been wooing us to return over to Tzell to affix his curated group of brokers. He known as at about 7 p.m. and requested another time for us to affix the corporate; this time, we lastly stated sure. He noticed in us what we hadn’t even dreamed we might change into. Barry knew simply how you can get essentially the most out of everybody on his crew. For the A Team, that meant leaving us alone more often than not to develop in our personal approach. He knew that Alan’s story was very near his personal journey rising up in Brooklyn. Barry knew that my Yale training and tenacity made us an incredible crew. Barry cherished the truth that we had each been Broadway actors earlier than turning into journey brokers. Barry cherished the theatre and all the time needed to know what reveals we had been engaged on and what the large, new hit of the season may be.

“Just a few weeks ago, he came by the office to make his rounds. Barry looked at all of the show posters lining the walls of our office and felt the pride that came from knowing how much he contributed to making the A Team the success it is today. Though we won’t get any more visits like that, his positive spirit will always be a part of our lives going forward. Barry’s belief in what we could accomplish before we even dared to envision what we have achieved today was his gift to us. How we will miss him. How lucky were we to have been a part of his life for over a quarter of a century?”

Eric Hrubant, CIRE Travel, a division of Tzell Travel Group

“What made Barry stand aside was he actually valued relationships and he actually all the time cared for individuals. He all the time needed to ensure that everybody’s enterprise was successful, and he did not care how you probably did it, he did not care what you known as your self, what you regarded like—he simply needed you to run your corporation your approach. There was no micromanagement concerned. He actually believed that everybody at Tzell knew what was greatest for them and he was right here to help them to form of do their greatest and do good work. And that is my lasting reminiscence of him. After being at his memorial, the recurring theme was how Barry actually did handle individuals. If you got here to him with an issue, whether or not huge or small, he would go to bat for you. He was positively an excellent figurehead for Tzell Travel, the place he revered each agent that labored right here regardless of how huge or how small. What I appreciated once I got here to Tzell was he let me run my enterprise my approach and if I wanted help, whether or not to resolve an issue or to search out methods to develop, you possibly can go to him and he would personally assist or have another person on the crew assist, if it was their experience.

“Do you know what I really liked about Tzell? When you come into Tzell, we are a casual and fun office and I think just the spirit of fun really helps people succeed. I couldn’t be CIRE Travel at other agencies. He was very happy to let me be CIRE Travel, a division of Tzell and have my own branding and do what worked well for me but having the power of Tzell behind me. That I could have my own autonomy within Tzell. It’s the leverage, the buying power anytime I needed. If you wanted to come through Tzell every day in a three-piece suit, you could, if you want it to come in shorts and t-shirt every day, you could. He just wanted to create a space for people, excelled and he did.”

Matthew D. Upchurch, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso

“When an industry icon leaves us, we are united in our grief and our appreciation for the contribution they’ve made to a profession we all love and value. Barry Liben was tireless in his support of travel advisors and the entire agency community. It was evident in the loyalty he inspired while growing Tzell as well as in his leadership of Travel Leaders Group’s entire portfolio. We all owe Barry a debt of gratitude for continually raising the bar and making us strive to do better, whether on the agency or partner side of the business. Barry always had my admiration for the humanity he brought to this business, and we both shared as a driving force our passion for life, family and professional purpose. During this difficult time, my thoughts are with Barry’s immediate family as well as his extended Tzell and Travel Leaders family.”


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