Avanti Destinations Adds to Mexico FITs

Avanti Destinations launched a Mexico product line that allows agents to customize packages for independent travelers through the company’s new Internet booking site.

By: Lori Tenny

Avanti Destinations launched a Mexico product line that allows agents to customize packages for independent travelers through the company’s new Internet booking site.

The firm, which has specialized in tailor-made vacations to Europe since 1981 and to Central and South America since 1990, added Mexico as a natural extension to its Central America lineup, and to move toward shorter-haul markets in the wake of Sept. 11, according to Avanti’s President Harry Dalgaard.

“The Mayan culture, flora and fauna and beaches of Mexico are a fantastic combination, and Mexico does an outstanding job of catering to American travelers,” Dalgaard said. “Our original goal was to link the Mayan culture in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala and tie in other cultural heritage sites such as Oaxaca, but our air contracts have enabled us to add other destinations in Mexico.”

Avanti’s Mexico roster currently includes six destinations: Acapulco, Cancun, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta, all of which can be booked as air-inclusive or land-only vacations through the agent-only Web site, which was unveiled in February.

The site, accessible with an ARC or IATA number, enables agents to create customized packages built on modules that include air, hotels, rental cars, transfers and tours. Agents can build programs with any combination of modules and earn full commission on each portion of the trip.

“You can give a client something prepackaged, but the first thing they want to do is modify it,” Dalgaard said. “The site is a dynamic packaging engine, and it’s a very handy tool for planning and booking FIT programs because everything is customized, and it offers real-time availability and instant confirmation.”

Agents can also view hotel information on the site and download brochures on featured destinations.

More Mexico Options

While Mexico is currently the smallest product on the site, Avanti plans to continue enhancing the Mexico lineup with additional beach resorts, Spanish Colonial Cities and natural regions. The company will also increase the ability to build multidestination programs in Mexico and between Mexico and Central America and South America, according to Dalgaard.

“The real value of the site is that it’s a multidestination booking tool where you can combine London and Paris, for example,” he said. “That’s our goal in Mexico. As we add more destinations and work out the logistics of air-inclusive holidays, agents will be able to easily build combinations such as Mexico City, Cancun and Merida, or Cancun, Riviera Maya, Belize and Guatemala.”

Avanti’s current Mexico product features air on Aeromexico, Delta and American from major U.S. gateways, including key cities in the Western United States and Texas. Avanti also plans to add Mexicana as a featured carrier, which will significantly boost service out of Western gateways, Dalgaard said. More than 50 three-, four- and five-star properties in Mexico are featured, including chains such as Camino Real, Continental Plaza, Fiesta Americana, Hyatt Regency and Pueblo Bonito.

Depending on the destination, the site features a number of sightseeing and activity modules in Mexico, many of which focus on the cultural and natural attractions of the area.

Examples include tours to Chichen Itza, Tulum and Xcaret ecological park from Cancun; fishing excursions, all-terrain vehicle tours and sunset dinner cruises from Los Cabos; city tours, museum visits and excursions to Teotihuacan ruins from Mexico City; and horseback riding, bay cruises and excursions to the mountains from Puerto Vallarta.

The evolution of the product will eventually enable agents to design culturally rich Mexico itineraries that incorporate numerous destinations and interesting tours, Dalgaard said.

Programs coupling Mexico with Central America and South America destinations, where the company already features comprehensive tour modules, will also be added.

Call 800-442-5053. Web site: www.avantidestinations.com.