As I sat down to write this first entry into what will become the baring of my soul for all to see – this lyric and tune from current hit movie Les Miserable echoed in my ears – bringing a smile to my face and a sweet twinge to my heart—‘Who am I.’ Who we are today is the culmination of all the things we have been and done in the past – so I guess a quick recap of that is in order to gain perspective of the journey that lies ahead.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am all about family – I have been married for almost 34 years to my high school sweetheart, have two adult children and 2 grandsons, with another literally due any moment. I was fortunate to not have to work full time while my children were growing up – although I did return to school and earn my BA in Psychology and later did specialty writing on a popular children’s TV show. However “who I was” was one of about 10 moms that did all the volunteer projects at the kids’ schools and it was done out of a sense of service to the children. My stint as the PTA President at the high school led to my establishing and running the Los Angeles chapter of a teen suicide prevention program for 3 years.
So from there to travel – how did THAT happen?
Well – in 2003 my youngest child graduated from high school and as I tried to determine my “what next,” I decided that I really wanted to work with families before they became disconnected and broken — to try to help folks remember how to stop the world for a little while to play together and smile again. So I renewed my quest to find out how to get into the travel industry.
I am fortunate enough to live in Los Angeles; and a call to a local college travel program had me talking with a delightful man by the name of Marc Mancini and I started classes that week. I really am one to jump in with both feet so in the span of the next 3 months I had attended not only his classes but also a 3 day CLIA Institute as well as 3 national industry conferences. I have remained an education and conference junkie ever since. As an independent agency (formerly known as “home based” – shudder) it is necessary to get outside of our offices and connect with other industry leaders and participants in order to expand our knowledge base–and do our clients justice. In between industry events, you will find me haunting several forums and message boards – most notably the forum right here on TRO with perhaps the most experienced mix of agents I’ve had the privilege to interact with.
So, in 2005 All Together Now Travel was born specializing in the Family and Group travel niche. When the economy waned in 2008 and uncertainty hit the family market especially hard, I quickly determined that a refocusing was in order, so I expanded to the Honeymoon and Destination Wedding market utilizing a niche host that would facilitate a rapid transition. In 2012, I decided that splitting my bookings was diluting my relationships with my suppliers, so I brought that back in-house and branded that niche as Romantic Journeys. Having both brands visibly assembled under one parent company though has provided me the wonderful benefit of being able to stay connected to my Romantic Journeys couples long after the honeymoon glow subsides. As they transition out of the newlywed phase and begin growing their families – I am right there ready to continue being a part of their family memories with All Together Now.
And as I said…I am all about family!
Barbara Oliver is a 8 year veteran of the industry operating two independent travel companies All Together Now Travel and Romantic Journeys (both currently being redesigned) in the Los Angeles Area. In addition to her agencies she is theLos Angeles director of NACTA as well as a regular attendee and frequent panelist at many trade shows. She has her CTA from The Travel Institute and her ECC from CLIA.