Looking for a Dream Vacation? Look no further than ‘Travel Mom’ Wendy Sandridge
by Kristin Cicciarelli | Contributor
You might say that travel agent Wendy Sandridge with TravelStore inherited the travel bug naturally. Her mother, Barbara, owned a travel agency for 37 years, so Wendy grew up lucky enough to experience all the wonders of world travel. Though she started out in the hotel business, she referred so many clients to her mother’s agency that eventually she decided it was her dream career, too. She knew she’d made the right choice during the very first trip she planned. “I sent out an email to 10 friends, asking if they wanted to go on a cruise for fall break to the western Caribbean out of Galveston. We ended up with over 300 people! That was back in 2004, and people are still talking about what a memorable trip that was.” And that memorable trip gave Wendy something else: a great deal of repeat business. “From that core group of clients, I’m now planning trips for children who are getting married, parents who are having anniversaries, and for family reunions. They’ve also referred me to their friends and family, so the word of mouth advertising has been terrific.”
More Master Travel Consultant than travel agent, this self-described “Travel Mom” (though her friends and clients prefer to call her “Wonderful Wendy”) has extensive connections in the travel industry that allow her to offer clients so much more than booking reservations. “With the Internet, anyone can check prices and make reservations. What I pass on to my clients are my relationships with vendors. That’s really what I center my business around — building relationships with both my clients and vendors, really customizing each trip so that it reflects the client’s preferences. And there are so many added benefits that I can offer clients because I know these vendors very well,” she says. “At many resorts, I can get them things like daily breakfast included, or a $100 resort credit, or if available early check in, late check out as well as room upgrades at no additional cost—all because of the people I work with every single day. On some cruise lines, we offer extra perks such as a car and driver for the day or onboard credit. Clients who book themselves will typically miss out on these value-added perks.”
An additional advantage Wendy offers is access to more than 700 travel professionals just within TravelStore. “I really try to travel to all of the places I recommend, but if a client wants to travel to a destination I’m not familiar with, I have at my fingertips access to like-minded professionals who know the area personally and will ensure my client has the best experience possible,” she says. TravelStore also holds membership in the exclusive Signature Travel Network, with more than 6,000 travel professionals meeting the needs of discerning travelers. That includes everything from hotel recommendations with direct contacts, local (and vetted) tour guides, restaurant reservations, and more—all of the things that are even more important if something unplanned happens during the trip. Wendy’s network puts clients in touch with the right people to solve any unexpected problems (lost passport, missed flight, etc.).
While she, her husband John, and their two grown daughters have enjoyed many trips together, Wendy Sandridge is determined not to keep the travel bug contained in her family. This is one bug that she wants to share with the world.
“Wendy’s extensive background and personal experience with the cruise lines, destinations, and excursion options provide us options and advice we would never have obtained otherwise. She has gone the extra mile sharing her personal photographs of destinations and excursions, permitting us to maximize our experiences at once-in-a-lifetime destinations.”
-Dr. Alan Barber
“Wendy’s vivacious personality and knowledge are invaluable to us! She makes each trip ‘your own’ and gives you the best of the best, wherever you are.”
“Wendy has an amazing memory. She adds every bell and whistle to every trip she plans.”
– Janie Burke