Avanti Unveils New Programs, Services for Advisors

Avanti Unveils New Programs, Services for Advisors

Harvey Chipkin

This article originally appeared in the June issue of AGENTatHOME magazine. Subscribe here to receive your free copy each month.


Avanti means “move forward” in Italian, and Avanti Destinations, the tour operator, is doing just that with multiple programs and services designed to support travel advisors. They include enhanced tools for selling groups, a beefed-up North American sales team, an app that will house everything a traveler needs for a trip and the opening of a new part of the world – the South Pacific.

Helping Advisors Sell Groups

While Avanti has been and continues to be an FIT specialist, the company launched its groups department in the fall of 2018. “It’s been doing very well – we anticipate a 30 percent increase in group travel bookings in 2024 over 2023,” said Ricarda Haeger, director of group sales and operations.

The operator, which sells only through advisors, also recently added a groups page on its advisor portal ( to help travel sellers understand and pursue more group travel.

“Almost all of the advisors who have booked a group with us have come back for more group itineraries.”

“Almost all of the advisors who have booked a group with us have come back for more group itineraries,” Haeger said. Unlike group departments of those cruise lines and packaged tour operators that just tweak their standard offerings, Avanti creates a completely customized itinerary for every request an advisor brings, she added.

Avanti Unveils New Programs, Services for Advisors

Asia is included in Avanti’s portfolio of programs. Pictured, Japan. (Source: Avanti Destinations)

An Enhanced Sales Team

The ramping up of the sales team included the appointment earlier this year of Gina Bang, a 21-year Avanti veteran, as chief sales and marketing officer, and the naming of Michel Madjerich (formerly regional sales manager for the southeast) as director of national accounts. John Hanratty remains senior vice president of sales and industry relations.

There are also new regional sales directors (RSDs) including Christina De Falco, northeast; Paula Ruidiaz, southwest; Amie Gibbon, north central; and Ken Pringle, mountain west. Molly Blackmon remains in that role for the south central and Pascale Theurier Beard for the west.

There are now four levels of support for advisors: executive, national, regional and individual, Bang said. “We have reduced territory sizes so our RSDs can spend more face-to face time with their accounts, and we have expanded our virtual sales team, including a dedicated training specialist, to provide personalized training for advisors wanting to sell more customized vacations.”

New Mobile Documents App

The app, which just launched, will make all travel documents available on both the advisors’ and their clients’ phones/ tablets so they can be free from carrying paper (although that is always recommended). The tool enables advisors to keep track of their clients while they are traveling; it also gives travelers the ability to contact all suppliers locally (hotels, transfers, tours) via a hyperlink, rather than having to place an international call. And it works off line as well.

New South Pacific Destinations

The big news on the destination front was the launching of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji last fall with eight customizable vacations, 280 tours and experiences and 222 hotels and resorts in more than 50 locations.

With that major addition, CEO Paul Barry said the operator is now focused on adding greater depth to the destinations it already sells, including Europe, its core product. Some recent additions within Europe were Portugal; the Canary Islands, including Tenerife, Spain; and Sardinia, Italy. Avanti also sells Asia, Central and South America, North Africa and the Middle East.

Authentic Local Experiences

In response to customer demand, Avanti is increasingly connecting travelers with locals, arranging occasions for eating or cooking with local communities and families, visiting their farms, seeing how they make crafts and visiting different Indigenous communities in Central and South America to participate in their traditional dance, music and meal preparation.

To update advisors on all of this, Avanti provides a comprehensive education program including twice-weekly “bite-sized” webinars of 15-20 minutes, two-to-four in-depth webinars monthly, in-person meetings with RSDs, individual trainings with the virtual sales team and educational trips – 18 of which visited four continents last year.

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