Wendy Wu talks to Jennie Carr and promises she’ll be the first to know.
There are people whose enthusiasm and sheer determination are infectious – Wendy Wu is one such person. It’s no wonder since her company’s beginning that it’s grown and is spreading its wings beyond Asia and the Far East.
Spin back to the start, 1994 when Wendy planned a trip for herself and her boyfriend to China, where she planned to show him the very best of her native land. Two weeks before the holiday, disaster struck and work responsibilities meant the unlucky man could not travel. Undeterred, Wendy placed an ad in the personal column looking for a travel companion, tickets having been bought and paid for. She was absolutely astonished by the number of replies she received. There was, of course, a slight hitch, a visa was needed for China and the time was too short to get one.
However, Wendy saw an opportunity – people definitely wanted to go to China and they needed someone to help them navigate the difficulties of travelling around this little-known country. With her first group of sixteen people, all but one, retired and still active, Wendy ran a 28 day trip, using exceptional guides who created, as they continue to do, a real sense of family. Those original travellers have clocked up an incredible one hundred Wendy Wu Tours between them. Something must have been right!
Wendy says that the company’s ethos is that they take people out of their ordinary lives, show them a totally different country, so that they learn through the cultural experiences only local guides can provide, whilst ensuring the potentially tricky bits of travelling to emerging destinations are all taken care of. The new Immerse Yourself tours have been created to give guests an even deeper understanding of their country of choice through experiential, cultural and active journeys – cycling in China as the locals do or cooking with a family in Nepal, for example.
Once customers had taken every possible tour in China, they wanted more from Wendy, so tours to Japan and the rest of Asia developed. The skills learnt in China, dealing with a more restricted regime that had yet to embrace tourism fully, were successfully transferred to other locations. And thus, travellers with a pioneering spirit, many of whom are of mature years, discovered new parts of the world.
Where is next and new on the menu to satisfy those with an appetite to repeat or try Wendy’s winning formula when they travel? South America is the answer! We’ll be watching with interest.