I sort of figured out a way to do this.

 1. Add a variant within the Panels module
 2. Add a visibility rule so that different variants show at different URLs (clean URLs and paths required), for example, example.com/paneltitle/variant1, example.com/paneltitle/variant2. 
 3. Create a custom module to hook into the menu. There is a great example of a menu module in the module code samples on drupal.org. A example here for above variants:

`

    function custom_module_menu() {
      $items['paneltitle/variant1'] = array(
        'title' => 'variant1',
        'access arguments' => array('access content'),
        'type' => MENU_NORMAL_ITEM,
      );
    
      $items['paneltitle/variant2'] = array(
        'title' => 'variant1',
        'access arguments' => array('access content'),
        'type' => MENU_NORMAL_ITEM,
      );
    
      return $items;
    }

This seems to have worked for me.