How To Get The Best Trip Possible: FAQs

6 years ago


“Can I hire you to book my trip?”  Readers ask me that question a dozen times a week.

I can’t personally design your itinerary—I’m a journalist, not a travel agent—but I want to help you the way I’ve helped all these other people. My unique expertise is that I have spent two decades researching, interviewing, road-testing, and monitoring trip-planning firms, so that I know the absolute best ones out there.  And it’s my goal to make sure you don’t waste any more time or money on mediocre travel experiences. I’m on a mission, on behalf of the traveling public, to hold the entire trip-planning industry to a higher standard than it’s ever been held before.

If you’re looking for the cheapest trip or an off-the-shelf product, though, then is not the right place for you. Here, we define value by how high-quality the experience is, not how little it costs. There are plenty of other sites that can help you find deals (though you should beware phony “values”), but this isn’t one of them. Instead, if you’re seeking a custom-tailored, sophisticated, smartly designed, hassle-free, non-touristy, flawlessly executed, transcendent trip—a WOW trip like these that travelers have recently returned from—read on:

  1. How does Wendy help you get a better trip?

Via my WOW trip-planning system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Click to my WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts. These are the savviest, most well-connected, most honest trip planners out there; they’re the people I entrust my own trips to.
  2. Find the right Trusted Travel Expert and click his/her black CONTACT button.
  3. That pulls up my trip-request form. Answer the questions honestly and thoroughly. Hit SUBMIT.

Can’t find the right travel specialist on The WOW List?  Use the Ask Wendy button.

2. What makes a WOW trip better?

  • It maximizes your experience of a destination.
  • It eliminates inefficiencies, crowds, lines, hassles, and other pitfalls.
  • It gets you priority status, insider access, and VIP perks.
  • It sometimes will cost more but is worth it.

To understand 12 ways WOW trips are better, read this article written by a traveler like you.

3. Why is it important to use Wendy’s trip-request form?

Five reasons:

1. You get VIP treatment.  The trip-request form serves the same purpose as a personal introduction from me. The specialist will know that I sent you and mark you as a VIP traveler. He/she promises to:

    • Reply to you within 48 business hours.
    • Have an in-depth diagnostic phone conversation with you. That is critical to a WOW trip.
    • Provide the lowest pricing possible. The Trusted Travel Expert has pledged to offer unbeatable value for the money. (See more on pricing below.)
    • Extend VIP courtesies and benefits.

2. The trip-request form helps you to articulate your trip goals and needs effectively.

That enables the trip designer to meet them better and sets you up for a more successful collaboration and trip.

  1. The trip-request form enrolls you in my trip-monitoring system. 

I will watch over your trip from start to finish, weighing in with important advice at key phases of the trip-planning process and intervening if issues crop up. I designed this system because, throughout my decades as a consumer journalist, readers keep contacting me about the same recurring issues over and over again, and I can provide insight and answers before those issues arise. These questions or concerns come up not necessarily because a travel specialist isn’t good (though that does happen), but because the process of working with a travel planner is complex. I can help prevent the common misunderstandings and mistakes that can occur between travelers and trip planners.

  1. After your trip, you’ll get to review the trip planner.

I monitor my recommended travel specialists in order to ensure they uphold the standards and values that got them onto The WOW List in the first place. When you return from a trip that I’ve monitored, you’re asked to share your review of the travel specialist for the benefit of your fellow travelers who are trying to decide whether or not to hire that specialist. It’s these reviews from you that determine whether or not a Trusted Travel Expert stays on The WOW List.

  1. If you don’t use the form, you won’t get Wendy’s WOW Moments (see #13 below).

4. Will using the trip-request form add to the trip cost?

Absolutely not. You pay the same price or lower than what you would pay if you booked any other way. The travel specialists whom I’ve selected to be Trusted Travel Experts on my WOW List have pledged to give you the best pricing they offer publicly, along with VIP benefits when possible. If you were on my WOW List, would you risk a negative review, or being removed from the List, by delivering trips that are not a good value?

5. How does Wendy select her Trusted Travel Experts?

I’m the person who conceived Condé Nast Travelers ground-breaking list of top travel specialists back in the year 2000. It was literally called “Wendy’s Rolodex,” and it was the world’s original list of best destination specialists.  It became so popular that I was asked to compile it annually. Other travel magazines copied it, but my list remained the standard setter—and that’s because I based my decisions on voluminous consumer feedback gathered year-round.  I did that for 14 years—until I left Condé Nast Traveler in 2014, joined TripAdvisor, and launched Today, I have systematized that trip-monitoring process, and my decisions about who belongs on The WOW List and who does not are dictated by the consumer feedback I receive via that process. I am also constantly testing new people for The WOW List. (For more on this testing process, see #11 and #12 below.)  Nobody can pay to get onto The WOW List. 

6. How does trip monitoring work?

I designed this system to prevent the miscommunication and mistakes that commonly occur when a traveler uses a trip planner.  As soon as you submit a trip request, you receive an email from me with critical advice for planning your trip smartly from the get-go. (Here’s an example of that advice: How to Get an Extraordinary Trip That’s a Great Value.)   I continue to send important tips at key moments during the trip-planning process. After your trip, I invite you to contribute a review of the Trusted Travel Expert. Those reviews determine who stays on The WOW List.

If you submit a trip request but end up deciding not to use that travel specialist for your trip, I send a brief survey to find out why not, since I want to make sure the Trusted Travel Expert is performing to the highest standard.

This trip-monitoring system, which launched in July 2015, is constantly being fine-tuned, based on the feedback I get from the travelers who use it. So please be patient. I’m on a mission, on behalf of the traveling public, to hold the entire trip-planning industry to a higher standard than it’s ever been held before. And this system and technology have never existed before. So your patience is appreciated.

7. Where can I read reviews of Trusted Travel Experts?

On The WOW List, immediately below each expert’s entry, you’ll see a link to his/her reviews page. Here’s a sampling of reviews of all TTEs.

8. The Trusted Travel Expert I’m considering for a trip has few reviews or none. Why?  

Two possible reasons:

  1. The expert came onto The WOW List recently.  The travelers who have chosen to book with that expert, and whose trips I am monitoring, have not returned from their trips yet and thus have not posted reviews yet.
  2. The expert has either not received many trip requests or has not booked many trips.

9. What if Wendy lists no travel specialist in my price range for where I want to travel?

Use the Ask Wendy button; I may be able to recommend someone who is willing to make more affordable arrangements. But remember that some countries (Japan and Norway, for instance) are far more expensive than others—and are also more expensive to operate a travel firm in. Also remember that The WOW List is a list of the best people out there; they provide trips you can’t buy elsewhere, and the price they charge for those trips is considered good value by your fellow travelers who have come back from those trips and posted reviews. Furthermore, nowadays there is no viable business model for inexpensive human-being travel agents. If you want the least expensive trip, book online.

10. How does Wendy vet candidates for The WOW List?

I test them behind the scenes. I send travelers to them and monitor those trips closely, by staying in touch with those travelers and asking them for feedback (this is another reason why I encourage all readers to use my Trip Request forms to contact the planners on my WOW List). If I get enough stellar feedback and few complaints, I add them to The WOW List. This testing process takes about a year (because it takes that long for enough trips to get planned, booked, taken, and reviewed.)

11. Is Wendy looking for volunteers to help with this testing?

Yes.  Hundreds of travel specialists are clamoring to be on The WOW List, and dozens of readers are asking me for specialists for destinations or types of trips that are not yet on The WOW List. I want to fill these gaps, so I’m constantly seeking and testing potential new Trusted Travel Experts. If there is someone who has arranged a trip for you and whom you highly recommend for The WOW List, let me know. If you have used at least three of my Trusted Travel Experts and thus have a clear first-hand understanding of the standard they represent and level of service they deliver, and you would like to be one of my “testers,” let me know.

12. What are Wendy’s WOW Moments?

On every third trip you take that starts with a trip-request form, you’ll get a gift of a WOW Experience. This is my way of thanking all of you first adopters for testing out my trip-planning system while it’s still in beta. Here are the details: Wendy Wants to Amp Up Your Trip!   You can read a traveler’s review of our first one here: Wendy Gave Me a Free “WOW Moment” and This Is What I Thought of It.

13. Is The WOW List pay-to-play?

Of course not.  I’m a journalist and would never jeopardize my reputation, and all the years I’ve spent building up the trust and credibility that my readers and sources depend on, by publicly recommending a weak travel planner, no matter how much they wanted to pay me. My name, and the standard of travel I stand for, are worth a lot more than that.

Besides, if The WOW List were pay-to-play, there would be 5,000 travel agents on it.

14. Then what is Wendy’s business model?

I have worked very hard to create a site that puts the traveler’s bottom line first, that preserves my trusted reputation, and that can sustain itself. I have several revenue streams, none of which influence the advice I give, because all of them depend on delivering honest, unbiased counseling and notjeopardizing my reputation. This site has sponsors and advertisers. I earn money by giving speeches and via writing and consulting assignments. I have an annual Global Travel Summit. I’ve created a WOW List badge, and any Trusted Travel Expert who wants to use it in his/her marketing pays a logo usage fee for the right to do so. (Other major travel publications charge similar marketing fees.)  The Trusted Travel Experts who derive the most business from The WOW List contribute an additional small fee; those who derive the least business do not. Without these revenue streams, I would not be able to provide a free Ask Wendy service, and I would not be able to continue to deliver the honest advice that so many travelers depend on.

Any fee that a Trusted Travel Expert might pay does not raise the trip price for the traveler. That’s partly because the great majority of these trip-planning firms pay much higher fees to their other sources of new business.  I insist that the Trusted Travel Experts use the money they save via business derived from to do special things for travelers that will lead to glowing reviews.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *