Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

What We Learned from our Global Travel Summit

by Billie Cohen | January 18, 2017

The team is just back from our second annual Global Travel Summit, where we spent the weekend picking the brains of the Trusted Travel Experts on Wendy’s WOW List and, equally important, letting them swap information about how best to serve you.

We know that travelers are not just any travelers: You’re sophisticated, smart, and thoughtful about the way you see the world, you’ve likely already seen a large part of it, and you define value differently than most people—as true, authentic, eye-opening experiences, not just as dollars and run-of-the-mill tourist photo ops. With all that in mind, we mined our collected group of trip designers and journalists for travel trends, travel business trends, and news about various destinations around the world. Here’s a short list of what we learned this past weekend, with much more to come over the next few months as we dig deeper into the most useful information you’ll need to make 2017 a year of extraordinary travel.

  • There’s a new trend in cruising, and small-ship company Windstar Cruises is leading the way on it: small-group, highly customized shore excursions. New president John Delaney, who came over to the company earlier this year from Seabourn, tells us that his personal main focus in 2017 will be to create bespoke shore excursions not seen elsewhere in the cruise industry. Stay tuned to learn more about what that means.
  • If you want to see Turkey this year, Trusted Travel Expert Karen Fedorko Sefer says gulets are the way do it. These traditional two-masted wooden sailboats allow exclusive touring of the Aegean Coast’s most beautiful spots. “Imagine sailing into beautiful, empty coves,” she says. “It’s a private, exclusive, and peaceful experience.”
  • New low-cost airlines are going to make nonstop travel over the Atlantic cheaper and easier this year, says Brett Snyder, president and self-titled Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge, an airline assistance company that provides booking, flight monitoring, award-travel help, and emergency assistance if your flight gets canceled or rerouted.
Joe Yudin standing at the Wendy Perrin Global Travel Summit

Joe Yudin shares ideas based on his own experience running Touring Israel. Photo: Tim Baker

  • Our Trusted Travel Experts have been busy creating new experiences for travelers. We’ll be covering more of these throughout the year, but here are a few as an appetizer:
    • Joe Yudin recently launched a program that lets adventurous types test their mental and physical strength during a survival-training challenge in the desert, led by former Israeli military types. “It’s like a Bear Grylls experience,” Joe says with a laugh. “It’s not easy, but people are loving it.”
    • Julie Byrd is turning travelers on to Baja California’s less-frequented spots, such as La Paz, where she now offers Zodiac tours to nearby small islands for private snorkeling, diving, and overnight camping.
    • Some TTEs start immersing you in another culture even before you leave home—for example, Jill Curran creates playlists for her clients so they can get to know Newfoundland before they step foot on the plane.
  • Apart from their ability to deliver extraordinary experiences, our TTEs earn a spot on The WOW List only when they’ve proven their customer-service skills (based on reviews from real travelers). So we enjoyed hearing from them about new methods they’re using to stay personally connected to their travelers:
    • Maita Barrenechea visits guests in their hotel before they leave, to say a friendly good-bye.
    • Andrea Ross calls every client after their trip to get feedback first-hand.
    • Cherri Briggs is making sure her travelers have (and know how to use) a variety of digital tools, such as WhatsApp, so that they can stay in touch more easily if they need anything while they are on the road.
  • Andrea Ross helped launch a campaign to eliminate the millions of plastic water bottles that wind up in Siem Reap landfills each year. Instead, her coalition’s goal is to provide travelers with reusable aluminum bottles that can be refilled at clean-water stations (hotels, restaurants, cafes, and other spots) across the city, all of which are helpfully listed right on the bottles. She estimates these efforts will remove one million bottles from landfills in Cambodia this year.
andrea ross speaks at wendy perrin global travel summit

Andrea Ross, a WOW List travel specialist for Cambodia, talks about her organization’s work on reducing plastic bottle waste.

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