Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Start a Safe, Smart, Extraordinary Trip

 

As a travel journalist and consumer advocate for the past 30 years—first as an advice columnist at Condé Nast Traveler, then at TripAdvisor—I’m all too aware of the multifarious travel risks that need to be mitigated in this pandemic.  For many trips, you’re smart to use an honest, realistic, highly knowledgeable, extremely well-connected, destination-specific, trip-planning specialist who can act as your local fixer. You’re even smarter to contact that specialist via the unique WOW approach to trip planning that I’ve created by popular demand from my longtime readers. 

This WOW system is the closest thing to a guarantee that you will get the best trip possible.  Why?  Because the specialist wants to garner excellent trip reviews in order to remain on The WOW List.  When you use my WOW system, I advise you at the start and again at key stages of your trip-planning process. And, because I stand by my words and my vetting, I invite you to review your trip afterward on WendyPerrin.com. 

My WOW system delivers these five benefits:
1. VIP status
2. Unbeatable value for a maximized travel experience
3. My guidance from the start of your trip planning
4. The right to review the travel specialist after your trip
5. A surprise WOW Moment, custom-designed for you and complimentary, added to your itinerary on every third qualifying trip

To get these benefits, you must fill out my questionnaire at the start of your trip-planning process.  Otherwise I can’t monitor your trip from the start to make sure it will turn out as great as it can be.

To find the questionnaire:
•Go to The WOW List and click on the CONTACT button of the travel specialist you want.
or
•Use the Ask Wendy questionnaire.

When you submit my questionnaire, that’s how the travel specialist knows I sent you and how you get the WOW benefits.  It’s the only way I can provide key advice when necessary.  It’s also the only way you’ll be allowed to review your trip on WendyPerrin.com.

This review system ensures that The WOW List stays up-to-the-minute reliable and safeguards my reputation by proving I can stand behind my recommendations. That’s what I get out of this. What you get is the best possible trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I hire Wendy to plan my trip?
2. What is a WOW trip?
3. What makes a WOW trip better?
4. When should I NOT use The WOW List?
5. Why is it important to use Wendy’s questionnaire?
6. Will using Wendy’s questionnaire add to the trip cost?
7. What is Wendy’s Trip Support System and why do I need it?
8. How does Wendy’s Trip Support work?
9. How does Wendy select the Trusted Travel Experts on her WOW List?
10. Where can I read reviews of a specific Trusted Travel Expert?
11. The Trusted Travel Expert I’m considering for a trip has only a few reviews. Why?
12. What if Wendy lists no Trusted Travel Expert in my price range for where I want to travel?
13. How does Wendy test new candidates for The WOW List?
14. Is Wendy looking for volunteers to help with this testing?
15. What are Wendy’s WOW Moments?
16. Is The WOW List pay-to-play?
17. So how does Wendy fund this mission on behalf of travelers?
18. I have a question that hasn’t been answered above.

1. Can I hire Wendy to plan my trip?

No, I’m a journalist on deadline. But I can help the way I’ve helped all these other people.

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2. What is a WOW trip?

My unique expertise is that I have spent two decades vetting, 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 trips.  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. I want you to get a WOW trip every time.  A WOW trip is a custom-tailored, sophisticated, wisely designed, non-touristy, hassle-free trip—like these that your fellow travelers have recently returned from.

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3. 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 may cost more but is worth it.  It’s value for what you get.

You might think you can get the same trip for less if you find and book each ingredient (hotels, restaurants, driver-guides, skip-the-line tours) on your own.  But you won’t get the same experience at all.  That’s because a WOW List trip designer is like a chef.  Even if you shop at the same food markets as the chef and even if you buy the same ingredients, the meal you cook won’t turn out the same.  That’s because a WOW List trip designer creates a one-of-a-kind experience, leveraging his/her connections to spice up each course and sprinkle in special touches.  Unpleasant flavors (long lines, traffic jams, tourist traps) are eliminated, and the best tastes (insider experiences, can’t-miss views, introductions to noteworthy local people) are brought out. Like a chef, a top trip designer delivers a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

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4. When should I NOT use The WOW List?

  1. When you’re looking for a low-cost or off-the-shelf product. Here, we define value by how high-quality and personalized your trip is, not how little it costs. There are plenty of websites that can help you find travel deals (though you should beware phony “values”), but this isn’t one of them.
  2. When you’ve already booked most of your trip. To choreograph a magical journey from start to finish, a travel specialist needs control over your arrangements from start to finish. The more of your trip a WOW List trip planner designs and books, the more he/she can save you wasted time, money, and pitfalls and embellish your trip with special treatment.  The more of your trip you have already booked (say, you’ve booked your hotels and need only an English-speaking guide for a couple of days), the less value you will get (e.g., you’ll miss out on the hotel perks you could have gotten through The WOW List) and the less the trip planner will want to work with you (because he/she may be concerned that what you’ve arranged on your own could negatively impact your entire trip).
  3. When you’ve already decided on a detailed step-by-step itinerary. When you know where you want to go, stay, and eat, and you just want someone to book all those trip components, book them yourself.  WOW List travel specialists are not mere order takers.  They perform best when given the freedom and control to create an imaginative, outside-the-box itinerary that will surprise and delight you. If you present the trip designer with a laundry list of choices you’ve already made, he/she may not agree with those choices, and it will be an exercise in frustration on both sides to have too many cooks in the kitchen.
  4. When all you need is an airline ticket, a hotel room, and a rental car. Those you can book on your own. The time to splurge on a WOW List destination specialist is when you also want a brilliant itinerary, special experiences, and the savviest local fixers who will save you time and headaches, deliver insider access, and make your whole trip easy and delightful.  You can’t get that on your own.
  5. When you have redeemed points for your hotel stays.  Travel agents do not earn revenue for hotel stays booked with miles/points—and the less revenue a travel agent is earning from your trip, the less he/she will care about embellishing your trip with special treatment and perks. This means you will get less value for your money if you use a WOW Lister for a trip where he/she won’t be booking any accommodations for you.

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5. Why is it important to use Wendy’s questionnaire?

The questionnaire serves as a personal letter of introduction from me to the travel specialist. Using it is also the only way I can know about your trip and monitor it.   If you don’t start with my questionnaire, you won’t get these benefits:

1. VIP treatment. The travel specialist will recognize you as a VIP traveler sent by Wendy. He/she has signed a pledge, promising to do the following for travelers sent by Wendy:

    • 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. (See more on pricing below.)
    • Extend VIP courtesies and benefits.

2. The questionnaire 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 a better trip.

3. The questionnaire enrolls you in my Trip Support 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 have contacted me about the same recurring issues over and over again.  I can provide insight and answers before those issues arise. I can help prevent the common misunderstandings and mistakes that can occur between travelers and trip planners.

4. 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 invited to share your review of the travel specialist, for the benefit of your fellow travelers. It’s these reviews from you that determine whether or not that travel specialist stays on The WOW List.

5. If you don’t use the questionnaire, you won’t get Wendy’s WOW Moments (see #15 below).

I can’t monitor a trip properly if I don’t know about it from the start. If you have already reached out to a WOW List expert not through WendyPerrin.com, I can’t help you.
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6. Will using Wendy’s questionnaire add to the trip cost?

Of course 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 for The WOW List have signed a pledge that requires they charge you the best prices they offer publicly, along with VIP benefits when possible. If you were on The WOW List, would you risk a negative review, or being removed from the List, by delivering trips that are not a good value?
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7. What is Wendy’s Trip Support System and why do I need it?

No one makes it onto The WOW List without being excellent at what they do. I started this list nearly two decades ago, and I’m refining it all the time. It’s been said that it’s harder to make it onto my list than to get into Harvard.

Thanks to the exposure I’ve given these travel specialists—exposure not just to travelers like you but to my fellow magazine editors and reporters who also now put them on lists and interview them for articles—many of them have become extremely busy in recent years.  Many now have huge offices, and are frequently on the road, and as a result new clients are often delegated to new, less candid, less savvy employees. It’s become too easy for a non-VIP client to get a less-than-optimal trip. But when I put a specialist on my WOW List, the prestige is great enough that they are happy to sign a pledge, agreeing to treat all WendyPerrin.com referrals as VIPs, to speak with them personally, and to offer you the lowest public prices available.

That’s one aspect of my Trip Support System, but that all happens behind the scenes. Out front, after you fill out my questionnaire, I am with you every step of the way during your trip-planning process, checking in and sending you key advice at every stage. And then, when you return from your trip, I solicit feedback, to make sure each specialist still deserves to be on the List—because your input is invaluable to the success of The WOW List.
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8. How does Wendy’s Trip Support work?

I designed this system to prevent the miscommunication and mistakes that commonly occur when a traveler uses a trip planner.  When you submit my questionnaire, 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 travel specialist. Those reviews determine who stays on The WOW List.

This Trip Support System is constantly being fine-tuned, based on feedback 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 has never existed before. So your patience is appreciated. To thank you for your patience while I iron out every bug, I am offering the gift of WOW Moments.
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9. How does Wendy select the Trusted Travel Experts on her WOW List?

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 the magazine asked me 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 WendyPerrin.com. Today, my decisions about who belongs on The WOW List and who does not are dictated by the huge volume of traveler feedback I receive via my Trip Support System (see #8). I am also constantly testing new people for The WOW List (see #13 and #14).  Nobody can pay to get onto The WOW List (see #16 and #17). 
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10. Where can I read reviews of a specific Trusted Travel Expert (TTE) on The WOW List?

On The WOW List, immediately below each TTE’s listing, you’ll find a link to his/her reviews page. Here’s a sampling of recent reviews of all TTEs.
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11. The Trusted Travel Expert I’m considering for a trip has only a few reviews. 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. Many of the travelers who have returned from trips with that Trusted Travel Expert have elected for their reviews to remain private rather than be posted publicly.

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12. What if Wendy lists no Trusted Travel Expert 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 are far more expensive than others. 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 an inexpensive trip, book through a deals website.
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13. How does Wendy test new candidates for The WOW List?

I am constantly testing destination specialists who come highly recommended by your fellow sophisticated travelers. First, I interview and vet these WOW List candidates to ensure they meet a high standard and have an excellent chance of earning a spot on The WOW List. Then I send travelers to them and monitor those trips closely, staying in touch with the travelers throughout and asking them to review their trips afterward. Eventually, if I get enough stellar feedback and no complaints, I add that travel specialist to The WOW List. This testing process takes at least a year (because it takes that long for enough trips to get planned, booked, taken, and reviewed.)
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14. 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.
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15. What are Wendy’s WOW Moments?

On every third qualifying trip you take, you’ll get a gift of a WOW Moment. This is my way of thanking you for helping me test and fine-tune my WOW system. You’ll find examples of WOW Moments and all the program details here: Wendy Wants to Amp Up Your Trip!
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16. 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.

Inclusion on The WOW List is determined not by money but by traveler feedback—a continual incoming stream of reviews from travelers who have just returned from trips arranged by WOW List travel specialists.  You can read these reviews—hundreds of them are published on this site—and they are not anonymous; they are from real, named, verified people who have recently used the List.  If I receive negative reviews of a Trusted Travel Expert, that person gets removed from the List.  The WOW List is based on merit—and not last year’s merit but this month’s merit.

The WOW List is not static. It changes frequently because I am also constantly testing a new crop of travel specialists:  I send travelers to them and collect their reviews (which are also published), to determine whether or not these new people warrant inclusion on The WOW List. Whether they make the grade depends entirely on reader feedback. This review system ensures that only the best people earn a spot on The WOW List, that only the best people stay on it, and that people who don’t deliver WOW trips get removed.
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17. So how does Wendy fund this mission on behalf of travelers?

I want to help the thousands of travelers who email me for advice, but I can’t spend the necessary hours every day doing this for free. Someday I will likely start charging people for my help, but so far I have tried to avoid that; after all, I am a journalist who has spent decades informing and advising as many travelers as possible, regardless of the size of their wallet, and that is what I believe in.

So I have worked very hard to create a site that can sustain itself, that puts the traveler’s bottom line first, and that preserves my trusted reputation.  This site has sponsors and advertisers, and I also earn money by giving speeches and via writing and consulting assignments, but I do not take into account who is advertising or paying for speeches when I advise travelers.  I have developed revenue streams so that the service that travelers ask me for can be self-sustaining and so that I can always put what’s best for travelers first and foremost.  None of these revenue streams are pay-to-play (as I said before, nobody can pay to get onto The WOW List), and none of them affect the honest, unbiased advice I give to the travelers who reach out to me. And if you have any doubt about that, read the reviews.

To protect the traveler’s bottom line, I require that every Trusted Travel Expert on my WOW List sign a pledge ensuring that WendyPerrin.com travelers will not pay one cent more when using WendyPerrin.com and the Trip Support System that I oversee.  And the value that travelers receive shows through in their trip reviews. If I receive complaints that a TTE is not delivering value for the money, I remove that person from The WOW List.
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18. I have a question that hasn’t been answered above.

Ask it here so I can answer and add it to these FAQs.
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Start planning your next extraordinary trip now — check out Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts.

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