Barbara Joseph serves as a subject matter expert on the competitive landscape for travel agency technology. She has developed new business arms for travel companies of varying sizes, from small tour operators to national travel agencies. Before embarking on her career in travel, she worked for multiple technology startups, managing e-commerce and digital marketing channels for Fortune 500 accounts.
Firstly, the story of how you came to be an expert on the competitive landscape of travel agency technology. Can you take us through your career journey?
I am a travel and tech fiend that grew up in New York and moved to Washington 9 years ago. I am currently leading business and product development efforts for technologies that support travel agencies. I feel quite fortunate because I found a career path that blends my passions for travel and technology. I teetered between the two industries for a while, from being a cycling guide for cross-country cycling trips, a product manager for LivingSocial, an e-commerce marketing consultant to Fortune500 companies, and back to being a travel guide, this time for wine and naturalist experiences in the Pacific Northwest. Finally, I landed at Virtuoso where I am proud to finesse technologies that result in the best product on the market, creating travel memories and stories that are transformative.
What’s your typical workday like as a Senior Business Development Manager at Virtuoso?
I am constantly evaluating market and user needs of travel agencies worldwide to try to find solutions that optimize their businesses and the travel ecosystem. As traditional travel agencies are thriving, I am focused on developing and implementing technology for travel agencies that evolve their operation and administration tasks, so that travel advisor can devote more of their time doing what they do best. I manage the product development strategy for Virtuoso’s internal technology, and I incubate travel technology companies for synergies with our business needs via our Virtuoso Incubator program.
Your article on Linkedin about “How Working with Travel Advisors Can Fast-Track Your Startup” is handy. Can you share three takeaways on how to find travel advisors for your travel startup, and at which stage of the company one should do this?
First, Find established travel companies that service travel advisors and try to solve one of their top problems. I’d recommend larger travel agencies with 500+ travel advisors or large tour operators/DMCs that operate in multiple destinations.
Second, Go to pitch competitions and networking events with travel clubs, like VoyagerHQ.
Finally, Become familiar with the travel legacy systems (like Global Distribution Systems) and learn how to become an authorized developer with those systems. The major GDS companies with these type of programs are Sabre’s Authorized Developer program and Amadeus for Developer.
What are the 3 most impactful communities that help spearheaded your career?
Bike&Build. I was a cycling guide for Bike&Build, and it was a defining moment of my life that gave me the foundation for my career because I learned the utmost leadership and teamwork skills through that experience. And the last two are George Washington University and Virtuoso.
What would you consider your self-care routine?
I make a point to be physically active almost every single day and to celebrate that activity with great food and booze. I do efficient workouts during the week, and then on the weekends, I crave an endurance activity outdoors, like trail running, road cycling, or surfing. Then, I like to indulge in a special meal with my family and friends.
What’s your advice for women who want to enter the travel and tech industry?
I would encourage starting at the grassroots level and being a tour guide or travel advisor because you will begin to understand the level of hospitality and specific touchpoints the industry requires. Then, you’ll be able to relate to the workflow and therefore, the technology that needs to be built to support that experience.
Which career advice in your life that you’re glad that you decided not to listen?
I was definitely discouraged from entering the travel industry because of the perceived lack of money and career development. I am so glad I muted that advice because I know experiences drive me and that I’d rather work in a field where the end product is experiences, not things.
What are the three books that changed your life? It does not have to be related to the travel industry or career.
- Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl
- Into the Wild, Jack Krakauer
- Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood