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The Great Wall of China

WOW Moment: A Helicopter Ride Over The Great Wall of China


We take our jobs very seriously here at WendyPerrin.com—to report on and recommend the best travel solutions and trip-planning help out there. After all, if we’re wrong about anything, we must answer to you—an audience of the most experienced and discerning travelers around. That’s why the review process is such an integral part of Wendy’s Trip Support System. In fact, it’s the main reason we ask all of you who use The WOW List to use the black CONTACT buttons on it when you contact a Trusted Travel Expert. That way, we can stay in touch with you and, after your trip, find out how everything went. Your feedback is enormously helpful to your fellow travelers—and, in turn, their reviews are enormously helpful to you, when you come back to use The WOW List again.

But don’t listen to us when we tell you the benefits of using Wendy’s WOW system to plan your trips. Listen to Lisa and Scott Dettmer, frequent travelers from the Silicon Valley area who’ve been using Wendy’s travel specialists for years. They recently returned from their latest adventure, arranged by Mei Zhang, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for China. Since this was the Dettmers’ third trip using the WOW system, they earned something special: a surprise insider experience curated by Wendy and added to their itinerary for free. We call these WOW Moments, and anyone who uses our trip-planning system can earn one if they simply use our WOW List buttons and review their Trusted Travel Expert after their trip. (Here’s more info on how to get your own WOW Moment).

We’re not sure all of you have heard about WOW Moments yet, so we called up Lisa and Scott to let them share, in their own words, their experience working with Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts, and what they thought of their WOW Moment surprise.

Q: How often do you two travel?

Lisa: We do one significant trip each year—like a two-week, far-away trip—and then we do quite a few smaller trips throughout the year. Our first trip [using one of Wendy’s travel specialists] was to Africa when Wendy was at Condé Nast Traveler. The planning worked so well, and the trip was so tailored to our needs, that I’ve continued to use her specialists throughout the last four or five years. Every single time we’ve had just wonderful experiences. I wouldn’t plan a trip without doing it that way—because it works.

Q: You recently returned from China. Was this a special trip?

Scott: We wanted to approach it a little differently. We didn’t want a traditional tourist approach to China, and it was nice that [Mei and her team] were able to do something we thought was unique and customized to our preferences.

Q: Can you give an example?

Scott: We like to hike and be outdoors, and we like animals, and a lot of travelers would not think you would go to China to have those experiences. Most think it’s going to be an urban experience: You’ll see the Great Wall, the terra-cotta warriors, and the Forbidden City, and that’s it. But WildChina delivered. Lisa’s experience of being up close and personal with a panda made the trip for her, and the other was being able to hike out into the forest in the southwestern area of China to find the endangered snub-nosed monkeys and hang out for hours watching them play around in the trees. They did a nice job of giving us the urban experience and the rural experience.

Q: Walk me through your WOW Moment: What happened?

Scott: It was a ton of fun and a great surprise, and the lead-up to it was amusing. We were in Beijing and had already gone out to one portion of the Great Wall, at Mutianyu, and had a great visit there. The next day I was supposed to visit my office in Beijing, but when our tour guide found out that I wasn’t going in, he started making a bunch of texts and phone calls. Then he said, “Since you’re not going to the office, we would really like to take you to another portion of the Great Wall.” We thought, “Well, we’ve already seen the Great Wall.” I should back up and explain that our guide was such a gentle and accommodating guy—really nice—but now he was like, “No, I think you should go to this other section of the Great Wall.” So we said, [adopts a skeptical voice] “Okay…I guess we’ll follow your good judgment.” [Laughs]

Lisa: That morning I started to put on my tennis shoes, thinking we’re going to hike, and our guide gets this big smile on his face and says, “Oh, you won’t be needing your tennis shoes.” And as soon as he told us that, he told us this was our WOW Moment.

Scott: I have a special affinity for helicopters because I started taking lessons in the past year—and we went up in one of the types I’ve flown, or kind of flown. [Laughs] And what a kick! Flying over different portions of the Great Wall! It certainly is a very different perspective. And to see the wall winding in its serpentine terrain across that mountainous terrain—it was gorgeous. The guide got to go up with us, and he’d never been up in a helicopter before. It was a ton of fun, and everyone had giant smiles.

Q: Lisa, you’re the one who worked with our Trusted Travel Expert to plan the trip. Did you have any idea what the WOW Moment was going to be?

Lisa: It was a total surprise, and that makes it really fun. I’d thought the WOW Moment was another thing that wasn’t in the original itinerary: WildChina had added in a sidecar ride through Shanghai. So, in my mind, since we’d never talked about what the WOW Moment would be, I assumed that’s what it was—I thought we’d already had it. So [the helicopter ride] was really a surprise, even though I was the planner of the trip!

Q: What’s your take on working with a Trusted Travel Expert to plan a trip? We’d like your honest opinion.

Lisa: It was neat that we felt like [Mei’s deputy] Jenny Zhao was constantly monitoring us throughout the trip and always knew where we were. She was our air-traffic controller on this trip. We also appreciated her on-the-spot analysis of our options: At one point, the weather was going to be pretty cold, and they were predicting snow in an area that was a significant drive away, and we thought maybe we should not do that portion. So we contacted Jenny to talk about alternatives, and she very quickly did the research to let us know what our options were. She encouraged us to go because if we canceled it we’d miss out on [a connecting portion] of the trip, and this way we could use the day to relax if the weather wasn’t that good. But it was a lovely day: We went on a hike with our guide, and we are so glad we didn’t make the changes. She encouraged us to stay the course, and that worked out really well.

Q: What should other travelers know about Wendy’s WOW system?

Scott: Our view is why wouldn’t everyone in the world do this? Using the sort of approach we do with your organization and with the local travel experts—why wouldn’t everyone do that? It makes so much sense. It really is terrific.

Lisa: For me, it was doing one trip and making a mistake before I found Wendy. One time we went to Belize, and I booked us at a resort that had just recently opened. It looked awesome on the website, but we got there and they had not worked out the kinks yet. It was an expensive trip, and it was really a bummer because that would never have happened with a Wendy specialist. I did a couple trips where it felt like we spent a lot of money and took time, and they were fine but they were not great. And then we did our first Wendy trip, and I was amazed. It’s not that it’s more expensive [to use one of Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts]. I feel like it’s a great deal: the resources that the travel specialists provide and for what we spend on these trips. If I think about the total trip cost, it’s so worth it to have that guaranteed. Basically, it’s a guarantee that the trip is going to be successful, that the places we stay and the activities are going to be good. I feel like it’s an insurance policy for us.


Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!

On every third qualifying trip, Wendy will add to your itinerary a surprise WOW Moment. A WOW Moment is an exclusive insider experience that helps make a trip extraordinary. Each WOW Moment is totally different. They vary depending on a huge range of factors, including the country you’re headed to, the timing of your trip, logistics, availability, and more. You can read a sampling of the more over-the-top WOW Moments (those most conducive to editorial coverage) here. Learn which trips qualify, and how the process works, here: Wendy Wants To Amp Up Your Trip!