The summer of 2021 tied with 1936 as the hottest summer in the 148 years records have been kept. This summer of 2022 hasn’t been quite as hot overall. It’s only the third hottest in history, but it’s had the hottest nights in US history, and multiple heat records set across the country. Climate is only one of ways the world is changing at a head-spinning rate. And it’s only one of the reasons to re-examine the conventional ways of looking at seasonality in travel.
Right now, as people are finally breaking free of the restraints of COVID, overcrowding at tourism sites has re-emerged as an issue to consider when making travel plans. This is a good time to consider traveling outside the historic summer vacation period.
Catch a Wave
One company that is jumping on its surfboard now to catch this wave is Avanti Destinations. As implied by its brand name (an Italian word for “forward” or “let’s go!”), Avanti is a travel wholesaler that has historically pushed the envelope of travel industry evolution.
Founded in 1981 by Harry Dalgaard (now retired), the company was created from the beginning to be a specialist in custom packages for independent travelers, a rare notion at the time of its founding.
The company rode to success on the strength of a proprietary technology that gives travel advisors the power to easily assemble packages based on individual preferences. The technology gives travel advisors the power to easily connect multiple destinations with transatlantic air, hand-picked hotels and sightseeing activities.
Avanti is strictly a wholesaler, selling only through retail partners, providing an easy medium for booking complicated FITs to Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
The company makes it possible to assemble packages from a broad diversity of components in a wide range of destinations at a central hub, as well as to recover all commissions from a single source, rather than dealing with separate individual hotels, airlines, etc.
Attractions of Off-Peak Travel
Avanti is now rolling out a new promotion for Go365, a program that promotes great off-season vacations to Europe.
Autumn, what has traditionally been called a “shoulder season,” is looking better in many ways than summer. And winter also has its own special attractions.
Avanti’s Go365 program focuses on travel to Europe from October through March. It’s looking better all the time.
At this point, the milder temperatures alone could clinch the sale. But maybe even more appealing are smaller crowds, greater availability of air, hotels and attractions, and better prices.
Fall and winter travel offer their own selections of seasonal activities, such as Christmas markets, winter sports, festivals, concerts, performances and exhibitions, all with the advantage of much less crowding. You get to experience the destinations more for what they really are behind the screens of tourism throngs. The scenery changes in ways that are often beautiful and charming. There are also culinary offerings that only appear during short periods within the fall and winter seasons.
The head of Avanti since early 2018 is Paul Barry, who founded Europe Express in 1990 and became a partner in Avanti in 2014. Barry, a diligent trend watcher, says that current booking trends suggest that there is a growing opportunity in fall and winter travel.
“The latest booking trends we are seeing might persuade advisors to recommend independent travel to those clients who usually only go on cruises or escorted tours,” he said recently. Bookings are now coming in at 50 percent higher prices, because clients are taking more people with them on trips. Revenues are also getting boosted because clients are including more components, scheduling longer trips, and traveling more frequently.
Clients are also booking closer to departure dates than they were a few months ago. Almost half of the bookings in recent months have been made within 10 weeks of departure. By that timetable, it’s still likely for clients to be booking fall and winter vacations now. Just in time for Avanti’s new Go365 e-brochures.
Avanti is now distributing two brochures for Go365, one for travel advisors, and one abridged version for agents to pass onto clients.
Avanti produced a 54-page travel advisor reference guide to its Go365 Winter Travel consumer e-brochure, with marketing tips and guides to using the tools the company provides to create social media posts, agency-branded flyers and postcards, and blog articles. The e-brochure can be downloaded at the company’s recently upgraded web portal.
The 46-page consumer version of the e-brochure is also available at the company’s web portal.
Included in the brochures is a listing of a series of 40 festivals centered around music, film, food, wine, beer, and religious and culture events that take place during the period between October and March.
Examples include: Mozart Week (Austria), Scottish International Storytelling Festival (Edinburgh), Dijon Gastronomic Fair (France), Feast of Santa Lucia (Sicily, Italy), St Martin’s Wine Festival (Slovenia and Czech Republic), Geneva International Film Festival (Switzerland), Truffle Days (Croatia), Apple Festival (south of France), Las Fallas (Spain), Paris White Night, Winter Jazz festival (Denmark), and the Oktoberfest and Christmas markets in many locations.
Though Avanti offers the means to build individualized packages from scratch, the company also offers some modules, pre-formed packages that can be booked either as they are, or used as basic programs to customize and build upon. For example, a tour of Italy called:
Flavors of Italy – 10 days and nine nights in Rome, Florence and Bologna. Highlights include a private market tour, a walking gourmet tour and a cooking class in a home in Bologna; a small group walking foodie tour, a wine-tasting and a cooking tour and dinner at a chef’s villa in Florence; a dinner party, wine-tasting and a small group tour of Rome.
Other examples include:
- Britain: British Classics by Rail – seven days, six nights in London, York, Edinburgh.
- France: Paris and Provence for Foodies – seven days, six nights with overnights in Paris and Avignon.
- Germany: Bavarian Adventures and Fairytales – eight days, seven nights with overnights in Munich and Füssen.
- Spain: Splendors of Spain – 11 days, 10 nights with overnights in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Valencia.
Itineraries can be enriched with a selection of hands-on, immersive experiences that go behind the scenes of various attractions and enterprises.
- a private Vatican museums tour;
- a private tour of Milan’s fashion district including the La Scala Museum, Palazzo Morando, and a visit to an atelier to watch the latest fashions being crafted;
- a private walking tour of London’s riverside landmarks;
- a small group walking foodie tour of Edinburgh’s New Town and Stockbridge neighborhoods;
- a private Loire Valley tour (from Paris) with wine tasting; a private Paris gourmet walking tour in the Latin Quarter; a private Cote d’Azur tour from Nice;
- a small group traditional paella cooking class in Barcelona
Times are changing. So are travel seasons. Time to adapt. Summer is over. Let’s go! Happy Travels!
David Cogswell is a freelance writer working remotely, from wherever he is at the moment. Born at the dead center of the United States during the last century, he has been incessantly moving and exploring for decades. His articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Fox News, Luxury Travel Magazine, Travel Weekly, Travel Market Report, Travel Agent Magazine, TravelPulse.com, Quirkycruise.com, and other publications. He is the author of four books and a contributor to several others. He was last seen somewhere in the Northeast US.