Wholesalers

Wendy Wu reveals her secret to staying afloat amidst earth-shattering disruption

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

If any company knows how to survive a pandemic, it’s Wendy Wu Tours.

While the events of the past few years were unprecedented for most of the travel industry, adapting to losing access to its main product offering wasn’t new to the 26-year-old tour operator.

Back in the early 2000s, the relatively fresh company saw its revenue stream dive off a cliff when SARS effectively shut down inbound travel to China, the company’s main product offering at the time.

So when COVID-19 rolled around in 2020, they were more prepared than your average travel company.

During her first visit to Australia since February 2020, Wendy Wu Tours founder Wendy Wu caught up with Travel Weekly to share her secret to staying afloat in the midst of earth-shaking disruption.

“We were one of the first [companies] hit and we’re continuing to be hit because China is still not open, and Japan, now our largest market, only opened last Friday,” Wu told Travel Weekly. 

“But we have stayed very solid and strong. We had been through SARS, and we felt confident that we would make it through COVID.”

During China’s deadly SARS outbreak, Wu said her company learned to be self-reliant and worked hard to expand its product offering so its loyal clients had somewhere to go in the meantime.

Once destinations began to open following the outbreak of COVID-19, the tour operator began its biggest expansion yet, urged on by its traveller and trade community, which Wu said the operator kept in close contact with all throughout the lockdown periods.

“Our customers just kept altering their bookings, changing them and adding to them six or seven times. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“Of course, we made no money, but it kept us busy and sharp – the customers just loved it.”

With a customer base willing to follow them anywhere and everywhere, Wendy Wu Tours began its expansion with local tours in Australia and New Zealand, soon adding Scottland tours for its UK market.

Soon, customer demand saw the operator expand into Europe and the Middle East.

According to Wu, however, the key to weathering any storm is passion.

“We love what we do and we love travel. We know our customers love travel too, so there was never a doubt that we would keep our dream alive,” she said.

“COVID was a catastrophe for the travel industry, but if you can stay confident and true to yourself even during the worst time, you’ll make it through.”



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