What is your key strategy for this year, and why?
We are focusing on growing our newest region, Asia. We added seven new countries this year to our initial six we launched with a year and a half ago. Our strategy in the past had been to add more destinations within our existing regions of Europe and Latin America, and the addition of Asia enables us to continue to level load our demand cycle with both Asia and Latin America being countercyclical to Europe.
What are your newest destinations or products in the marketplace, and why launch them now?
The newest countries that we have added to our Asia program are Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Korea and Singapore. These were introduced mid-year in 2016 based on requests from agents.
Once you decide to go into a new place, what do you do to create a product that’s ready for today’s consumer? How do you determine hotels and local operators?
In all of our destinations, we work with a local DMC, who is our eyes and ears in the country. Also, in Asia, we identified outside expertise managing in the region and we were fortunate to hire Mark Grundy, who led Wendy Wu Tours for many years. The coupling of this expertise and
a keen sense of selecting the right DMC has been a highly successful formula for Avanti’s expansion over the years.
Are there any challenges this year for your business?
Continued consumer confidence and a healthy stock market contribute to achieving successful sales, but we have learned in 2016 that flexibility and being able to shift emphasis as events arose contributed to our overall financial success in a very challenging year.
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
Nothing unique comes to mind, but always being vigilant to seize an opportunity when one presents itself or adjust if the situation dictates it.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2017?
We are focusing on reinforcing the Avanti brand and our can-do approach to complex FIT planning both through our call center and our excellent planning website. No one “connects the dots” for the FIT traveler like Avanti and spreading that word continually delivers sales growth.