Today, a group of travel industry veterans is officially launching AVANCE Collective, a charity built to help those who make up the travel industry, in hopes of uniting travel professionals to “fund human initiatives that support inclusivity, education, and community.”
The charity is the brainchild of three industry veterans, including Geoffrey Ravoire, the travel and marketing director at Chicago’s Huffman Travel, a Virtuoso agency. The name comes from the French word that means to move forward with purpose, with the word collective being added because “we wanted everyone to feel represented,” Ravoire said.
“I’ve always been involved in charity work,” he said. “Even when I was younger through my family and through my career, it’s something I’ve always gravitated towards.” Ravoire said that the idea for AVANCE Collective came from his realization that “the strongest asset I have is the network I can leverage.”
The ultimate goal of the organization is to “demonstrate the charitable power of the travel industry” to support and fund the people that make up the industry, including those who make it possible for the travel industry to do all it does today.
The team and the mission
Ravoire isn’t putting this project together on his own—there are two other co-founders who are leading this initiative with him.
One is Lindsey Gift-Silver, a luxury hotel sales veteran who is currently working as the Head of Sales, North America for Oetker Collection. The other is Chris Reed, another hospitality industry veteran who is currently the Vice President of Global Sales for The Ranch, Malibu.
Ravoire said that the partnership was created because the three had aligning values and relationships that made them want to collaborate. Reed is also a counselor for The Trevor Project, one of the charity’s four pillars (more on that below).
All of the donations will be split evenly amongst AVANCE Collective’s four pillars, causes that the team wanted to assist, chosen because of their connection to the people of the travel industry. Ravoire told TMR that he and the team know that they won’t be able to reach every corner of the industry, but they want to focus on causes to which most people from the industry can relate.
“We’ve tried to really think of the industry as a line of human connections,” he said.
1. Future travel professionals – 25% of the donations will go towards helping future travel industry professionals complete their education via initiatives or grants. That includes helping with lodging, travel costs, and other education-related costs and fees. Initially, AVANCE Collective is working with Florida State University’s Dedman College of Hospitality for this pillar.
2. The Trevor Project – Another 25% of donations will go towards The Trevor Project, an American nonprofit founded in 1998 with a mission of offering LGBTQ+ youth resources, including crisis counseling and confidential assistance. Reed is already a counselor with The Trevor Project, one of many members of the LGBTQ+ community who work in the travel industry, which made it a perfect fit for AVANCE Collective.
3. Emergency Relief – The third 25% will go towards emergency relief for the travel industry. This pillar was built into AVANCE Collective’s mission after the Maui fires from earlier this year. “We wanted to allocate a budget to these unfortunate, unforeseen events,” Ravoire said.
4. Underserved Groups – The last of the pillars is underserved groups, a population of people or communities living close to or below the poverty line. AVANCE Collective is targeting that group through micro-credit, small loans made through Kiva that can make a big difference for certain people. “The idea for the micro-credit is that you lend an amount of money that may not be significant to you so that you don’t seek a ROI but this amount makes a huge difference to the person receiving it.” Think families in third-world nations that need plumbing, or farmers needing tools or seeds, etc.
The ultimate goal
AVANCE Collective is launching to the public today but has already gained support from some of the group’s network, including the owner of Huffman Travel and the owners of The Ranch, Malibu, along with others from Pendry West Hollywood, IHG, Virtuoso, and more.
The charity is already 501(c)(3) certified, something that Ravoire got the news of when he was on a plane to attend Virtuoso Travel Week in August, a moment he called “a relief.” The plan now is to reach as many industry people as possible.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Ravoire acknowledged. “We have a number we want to hit one year from now, but we really need to gain support from industry players.”
AVANCE Collective particularly wants to engage with the industry’s thought leaders, those who carry weight in travel and can help them grow outside of their networks. The project is one that they hope will transcend any borders that the industry has, whether that’s between regions, consortium, or other groups.
“That’s why we’re very honest in our approach when we talk to different industry leaders – I recognize I belong to Huffman Travel, but it’s not a Huffman Travel project. This is really something for everyone working in the travel sector,” he said.