Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1995 to 2016, and Barry Liben, chairman of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group. Photo Credit: Andre Jackamets
Travel Weekly honored two industry veterans with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Nicki E. Grossman served as president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1995 to 2016, before retiring. In that role, she was responsible for Broward County's tourism marketing efforts and the operations of the Broward County Convention Center.
Broward County's hospitality industry employs more than 180,000 and in 2015 generated $14.2 billion in revenue from 15.4 million visitors.
Grossman was elected to the City Commission of Hollywood, Fla., in 1978 and elected to the Broward County Commission in 1982.
She serves on the board of directors for the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Travel and Tourism Advisory Council, the American Coastal Coalition board of directors and the Florida Commission on Tourism (where she was elected 2007-2008 chair for Visit Florida).
Grossman has been named among the Top 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by Meeting News. She was also named one of the Top 25 Marketing Minds by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, and the ministry Seafarers' House at Port Everglades named her the South Florida Business Leader of the Year in 2014. Recently, she received the Jewish Community Center Maccabi Midot Award, Apex Distinguished Service Award and the Broward County Film Society Visionary Award.
In 2007, Grossman was inducted into the Visit Florida Tourism Hall of Fame and last year was inducted into the Destination Marketing Association International Hall of Fame in recognition of her contribution to the industry. A hospitality studies scholarship in her name is awarded each year to students at Broward College
Grossman was born and raised in Miami Beach. She is married to retired Broward Circuit Court Judge MelGrossman and has three daughters and eight grandchildren.
Barry Liben is the chairman of both Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group, the travel agencies that comprise the Elite Division of Travel Leaders Group, a North American travel company that generates gross travel sales approaching $21 billion.
With more than 70 branch locations in both the U.S. and U.K., which generate nearly $4 billion in annual sales volume, Protravel and Tzell are each recognized and award-winning leaders in luxury leisure, corporate and entertainment travel. Liben is based in New York, and he also serves on the board of directors for Travel Leaders Group.
Prior to being named chairman of Protravel and Tzell last year, Liben served at the helm of Tzell Travel Group as its CEO since 1977. At the time of his initial investment, Tzell Travel Group employed three people. Today, Tzell Travel Group has grown to include over 700 agents, staff and management
In 2008, Tzell Travel Group merged with Travel Leaders Group, which together rank No. 1 in Business Travel News' ranking of U.S. business travel agencies.
From that time until 2015, Liben served as CEO for Travel Leaders Group and oversaw growth that took the enterprise from $7 billion in annual sales volume to nearly $21 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.
He grew Tzell from a business emphasizing travel to a single destination into one that focuses on a core product of worldwide business travel with additional emphasis on groups, entertainment travel, sports packages and concert tours.
In addition to starting the Protravel and Tzell Foundation in the wake of 2012's Hurricane Sandy, his philanthropic work includes serving on the board of the National Stuttering Association, five years as president of the Israel Community Development Foundation and as a member of the International Board of the Menachem Begin Center in Jerusalem. Most recently, Liben has been asked to serve on the board of trustees for Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.
A native of New York's Brooklyn borough, Liben resides in Manhattan with his family.
Protravel and Tzell comprise the Travel Leaders Elite Division, not the Premier Division as an earlier version of this article stated.