Part of the Pack: IHG’s Deanna Granato on Pandemic Travel

Are you day-dreaming about your next vacation? Same! Pleading for one, actually. And I can’t blame it on the pandemic, since for us, we haven’t gone on a proper vacation since we went on a babymoon in Belize right before Grey was born. In today’s Part of the Pack conversation we welcome Deanna Granato, Senior Training Consultant for IGH Hotels & Resorts. Deanna is a wealth of information and the guru of all things travel. Let’s all manifest our next destination together while we let all of this new intel sink in. She drops wisdom about everything from vacationing safely during the global pandemic, managing expectations, getting the best deal, and the better sites to book your trip. I learned so much from her today, and know that you will too:

Meet my friend & travel expert, Deanna Granato.

As a Senior Training Consultant for InterContinental Hotels Group, Deanna has traveled far and wide for more than a decade; and instead of keeping all of the knowledge she has gained to herself, she’s dropping all of it for the Pack. Did you know the average person canceled 3 trips in 2020? I didn’t know that either, but Deanna did, and below you’ll learn her secrets to booking airlines and hotels, taking advantage of timing & deals, and how the pandemic has impacted the travel industry (and us).

Deanna Granato, Senior Training Consultant with IHG

Deanna is the kind of friend who would give you the blouse off her back. If you need a hug, encouragement to try a new project, a person to really listen and give solid advice; she’s your gal. Deanna is also someone who knows her stuff. She is a researcher, an achiever, a doer. When I asked if she would be willing to educate us on all things travel, she not only accepted, she flooded my inbox with so many stats and interesting articles – oh so appreciated for making my job a little easier ๐Ÿ˜‰! I very much enjoyed today’s chat, and learned so many incredible nuggets I can’t wait to put into practice when we finally book that trip.

Deanna’s favorite quote on travel. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it?
What should we know before we plan a getaway? What are the best sites to use? Deanna shares invaluable wisdom she’s amassed from decades in the travel industry in today’s conversation:
Deanna’s Top Travel Tips!
  1. Get your passport. And if you have one, don’t let it expire. Did you know that only 60% of Americans have a passport? We make up the lowest percentage of passport-holders in the world. Deanna says, “Once we start fully opening up and into recovery mode, you will see huge sales/deals to encourage travel out of the country. You’ll be happy you donโ€™t have to fret over having a passport in time to take advantage of a super sale.”
  2. Make a vacation wish-list, and the action steps to make it a reality. The second part of that is the most crucial- don’t just dream about it. Deanna suggests we all make a vacation vision board, then start to research seasons (not just weather, but high and lows for travel) prices of flights, lodging, dining & exchange rates. She recommends The Points Guy & Hopper to start with. Next, put together a budget for the full costs of the trip (adding 20% just in case). She says once we put in the work, we’ll be surprised that the “dream trip” isnโ€™t as far away as we think it is.
  3. Loyalty Counts! Sign up for loyalty programs through hotels and airlines, then opt-in to promotions to earn more points. Airlines and hotels show favor to people taking advantage of their apps/ rewards. Third-party sites, she says, are for “looking, not booking”. Deanna also suggests, if you’re open to a new credit card, it’s a great way to travel to a high-end resort on points.
  4. Manage Expectations. One of my favorite reminders. Deanna says this always rings true, but especially during a global pandemic. If you are traveling to a place you’ve been before, get as many questions answered as possible before you book. For example, will you still be excited to take the trip if your favorite restaurant has closed? If you have to wear a mask at all times? If the cleaning/ room service/ amenities at the hotel have been adjusted? She advises us to look online, but to also follow-up with a phone call to find out the things that matter to us so we go into it with realistic expectations.
  5. GO. A reminder that life is short. Today we have our health, the will, and the means to make it happen. We all see people who wait for retirement or later in life for travel, and when that time comes, they are no longer in the position to do so. Take the trip while you can!
A heartfelt thank you to Deanna for making time for the Pack today. Isn't she awesome?! 

What was your biggest takeaway? Which destination will you dream up?!
A snap from our aforementioned babymoon in Belize. I can’t recommend Las Terazzas and Ka’ana enough. It is such a spectacular spot in the world ๐Ÿ˜.

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