Ask a Chicago Expert: Meet Katie Harris-Anderson, Travelocity’s Chicago Market Manager
Editor’s Note: Periodically, we’ll be featuring a Q&A with our resident destination experts at Travelocity, the Travelocity market managers. Market managers are locals to their destination and experts on everything and anything related to tourism in their markets. Please welcome them to The Window Seat.
Katie Harris-Anderson is the Travelocity Market Manager for Chicago and Minneapolis. She is a born-and-raised Chicagoan, is based there and has been with Travelocity for more than five years. She enjoys rock climbing, competing in triathlons, skiing, volunteering and exploring Chicago neighborhoods and their ethnic restaurants (by playing “tourist in your own town” on a regular basis with friends and family). She has only lived in states that begin with “I” (Indiana, Iowa & Illinois) and plans on visiting all seven continents (three down, three to go after a pending trip to Australia to dive the Great Barrier Reef in November). Her favorite part of the job is hard-hat tours of new properties and getting customers the best deals on Chicago hotels!
The Gnome visited Chicago for my wedding day-here we are in front of Buckingham Fountain!
TWS: If you had to pick just one thing that makes Chicago special, what is it and why?
KHA: There is just SO much to do! We have sports year-round: Bears football, 2 hockey teams (the Blackhawks are our most recent World Champions), 2 baseball teams, soccer, lacrosse, women’s basketball and many minor league teams. We have history, we have many different cultures, we have lots of great museums-Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium. Some of our attractions are the biggest, best or first in North America! We have two zoos, phenomenal shopping, safe beaches and great nightlife. And you definitely won’t go home hungry as we have some of the best restaurants in the world! We have two airports, over 100 hotels to choose from, great public transportation, trustworthy taxis AND we’re still a “walk-able” city. Rain or shine, nobody could be bored on any budget, with any timeframe (whether you have a day or two weeks) and we love visitors!
TWS: What’s the best time of year to visit Chicago to get a deal? Pros and cons of visiting at that time of year?
KHA:You can get a great deal in the winter-AND the summer in Chicago. The winter is obvious, because people think it’s so cold here. While it does get frosty, there are stores upon stores on Michigan Avenue (and State Street) offering post-holiday sales, so you could keep busy ducking in and out of our vertical malls and boutique shops, snagging deals missed in December. And, it’s not really THAT cold (well, there are a few days…but then the ice skating and requisite hot chocolate warm-up at Park Grill wouldn’t be as fun)! The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to check out the awesome inside-Chicago at our fabulous museums, too. Things aren’t unbearably hot in the summer, and if you’re cruising through Chicago on a Segway at 12 MPH, you’ll see lots of our attractions in no time without breaking a sweat. August is also a great time to check out the Chicago Cubs and perfect time to head to the beach at Oak Street, Castaways at North Avenue Beach and catch the breezy scene at Navy Pier. Make a splash in the rooftop pool at the Avenue or indulge in a chilling cocktail at a rooftop bar at theWit or Dana Hotel. You’ll forget about the heat in no time.
TWS: What’s the secret to getting deal on Chicago hotels?
KHA: There are three ways. One, looking into Top Secret Hotels. Properties have rooms that they offer great discounts on, nights between conventions and major events. Two, booking a hotel with air travel as vacation packages is a can’t-miss discount you can’t get anywhere else and many major airlines fly into Chicago. Finally, book in advance, as many properties raise rates closer to the day of stay and many hotels offer 21-day advance purchase discounts!
TWS: What’s a secret the locals know but tourists don’t?
KHA:Everyone knows the Signature Room is where you go for a fancy dinner with a great view of the city. For an affordable lunch but views that would rival those from the Hancock– check out Café Galileo at the Adler. It’s open to the public and you don’t have to go through the Planetarium to dine there. It has a gorgeous, different perspective of Chicago and great lake and skyline views year-round. The food is made fresh on site, and might just be the best museum dining you’ve ever experienced!
TWS: Do you know the Roaming Gnome personally? What is his favorite thing about your destination?
KHA: The Gnome LOVES Chicago and visits regularly (for the deep dish pizza, and me—I think in that order!). We like to hang out in Millennium Park, Chicago Skydeck, on architecture cruises and we even split an ear of corn at the Taste of Chicago. Maybe you saw our pictures on Facebook? That old chap can’t wait to get back here.
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From time to time, the Window Seat publishes articles and blog posts written by guest authors to give you a fresh perspective on the world of travel.