Avanti Destinations CEO Dalgaard retiring: Travel Weekly
After 37 years leading tour operator Avanti Destinations,
founder Harry Dalgaard will retire as president and CEO on June 30.
Paul Barry is now sole owner and executive chairman. Barry,
the founder of tour operator Europe Express, had been a 50% owner of Avanti
Barry will be supported by the executive team of COO Mark
Grundy, CMO John Hanratty and CFO Susan Marra.
“The executive team and I are totally committed to
continuing in the direction Harry set for Avanti over the past 37 years,” Barry
said in a statement.
Dalgaard said it has been a “fabulous ride”
leading Avanti, a provider of independent travel to Europe, America and Asia.
“In 1981, FIT was definitely an underserved market
segment. I wanted to sell the kind of travel I personally prefer — independent,
not in a crowd,” Dalgaard said. “I used all my contacts in the travel
industry along with innovative technology to create a company able to ‘connect
the dots’ of multi-destination itineraries.”
Dalgaard said the support of travel agents made Avanti a “major
player” in the industry.
Dalgaard in 1981 founded Avanti in Portland, Oregon, to sell
custom-built independent leisure travel to Europe exclusively through travel
agents. The company still sells only through agents.
Today, European itineraries account for the majority of the
company’s bookings. Central and South American destinations were added in 1990,
and Asian destinations in 2015.
Avanti employs 135 people and creates itineraries for nearly
50,000 travelers per year.
In addition to leading Avanti, Dalgaard has served in
several positions at the U.S. Tour Operators Association, where currently he is
vice chairman. He also has been on the advisory board of the German National
Tourist Office and Atout France for many years.