|According to Harry Dalgaard, his team works hard to offer unique activities and authentic cultural experiences in every destination to ensure that travel agents’ clients have a vacation of a lifetime. And they all must be doing|
something right, for Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Tour Operator, Latin America goes to Avanti Destinations for the second year in a row.
Dalgaard, of course, is president of Avanti Destinations, a company that has concentrated for 30 years on fine tuning the art of independent travel to Europe, Central America and South America. “Our product team is really focusing our efforts to ensure that our programs offer more authentic cultural options and more exciting things to see and do,” Dalgaard says, “whether it’s rafting down a river in Costa Rica or touring about in Rio with a local using mass transportation to capture the real sights and sounds of this vibrant town.” And, Avanti makes it a point to share with travel agents its sense of place and updates on what’s hot and happening in various destinations during its “live” from Latin America webinars. Recently these covered Panama, Argentina and Peru—all available on its website about a week after airing—and coming up in 2012 will be a second webinar on the Galapagos Islands in January, followed by an expansion of the Brazil and Costa Rica webinars currently available.
Actually, says Dalgaard, “our webinars, our specials and our training options are all geared to keep the travel agent informed and to indeed share our expertise, as well as the knowledge of our local partners. We want to provide a superior independent travel experience to their clients and to have a personalized vacation that fits travel agents and their client needs.”
In 2012, Avanti will be sharing its enthusiasm and programs for Colombia, its newest destination. Focus will be on Bogota and Cartagena, as well as a 2-night Coffee Triangleindependent travel package that includes private coffee plantation tours and a private visit to a botanical garden—the Coffee Triangle was recently (June 2011) declared a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape, one that provides an exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape, based on coffee-growing traditions. Additionally, Avanti is just getting into the Mexico market and will continue to expand the options to ensure that Avanti’s Mexico is a more authentic travel experience, rather than simply a beach vacation.
Dalgaard reports that Avanti has seen solid growth in Latin America in 2011. “It’s looking even stronger for 2012,” he adds, “and we’re seeing the booking window expand out again. The Latin America market is growing, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”
What’s selling at Avanti is Costa Rica, whose popularity continues, Argentina’s coming back, and Peru’s rise to the top continues to impress the company president. In fact, Dalgaard believes, “There’s a growing awareness overall of South America as a continent and as a growing tourism destination, and a growing number of travelers are reaching out to travel agents for expert travel planning to this continent. We’ve expanded our reservation staff in the South American department and we’re really excited to be a leading tour operator in this market.”