Cultural Tourism Newsletter - March 2014

Cultural Tourism Strategy

In January 2014, Choose Chicago released the first ever cultural tourism strategy for Chicago. This strategy is designed to help achieve goals set forth by Mayor Emanuel to increase annual visitation to 55 million visitors by 2020, book 2.3 million room nights and 50 new groups annually, and elevate Chicago to among the top five US cities for inbound international travel by 2020. In July 2012, Choose Chicago formed the Cultural Tourism department to increase awareness and visitation to Chicago by promoting the city as a premier cultural destination. The team’s expertise combines extensive knowledge of Chicago’s arts and cultural community, the city’s 77 communities, and direct access to the hospitality community. Since its formation, the team has engaged leaders in the cultural and hospitality communities, conducted market research, and compiled a cultural asset inventory of Chicago.

From April through December 2013, Choose Chicago and Civic Consulting Alliance partnered to understand the cultural landscape and identify opportunities to develop a cultural tourism strategy for Chicago. This project was comprised of four phases. In phase one, multiple analyses were conducted to understand the city’s cultural landscape including the development of an inventory of Chicago’s cultural assets and a benchmark study of cultural travelers from Chicago’s top 10 feeder markets to understand barriers, motivations and perceptions. Phase two focused on an assessment of the potential return on investment and ease of capture of driving visitation from a broad set of international and domestic markets. Phase three centered on developing and testing a cultural tourism positioning strategy and promotional tactics.

In the fourth and final phase, findings and recommendations from the first three phases were compiled to develop an overall cultural tourism strategy for Chicago based on six strategic objectives. For an outline of these objectives and detailed information on all research phases, a copy of the executive summary of the cultural tourism strategy can be downloaded here.

Bronzeville Mural


Chicago at SXSW

In March 2014, Choose Chicago in conjunction with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, World Business Chicago, and Illinois Office of Tourism made their way to Austin, TX to promote Chicago’s technology, music, and film industries at the South By Southwest (SXSW) multi-media conference. This is the first time an official delegation from Chicago has had a presence at the conference representing creative industries. The group developed Chicago Made – a platform specifically developed to generate awareness with attendees about Chicagoans who have made a mark in their respective industries.

From March 9 – 12, Chicago Made presented a tradeshow booth that featured a background fabricated from original artwork by Chicago artist Chris Silva. The booth was programmed to feature meet-and-greet opportunities with Chicago makers from the city’s technology, music, and film industries. There were also live performances by local Chicago bands and musicians. An official SXSW music showcase featured an all Chicago artist line up including Chance The Rapper, The Autumn Defense, The Hood Internet, Archie Powell & the Exports, My Gold Mask, Bonzie, Show You Suck, and Prob Cause. 

In addition to the tradeshow booth and showcase, a private reception was held to create an opportunity for conversation among national and international industry leadership. For more information visit

Chicago at SXSW

Chicago Theatre Week Recap

In February 2014, Chicago Theatre Week took place for a second successful year. More than 7,900 tickets were sold to 344 performances over the course of 6 days to 100 participating shows. In its second year, Chicago Theatre Week saw a 28% increase in tickets sales and attracted visitors from 31 states, Canada and the United Kingdom.

In February 2013, Choose Chicago, in partnership with the League of Chicago Theatres, launched the first Chicago Theatre Week. The week-long program was designed to generate ticket sales and awareness to the city’s fantastic theatre scene by offering discounted rates at $15 and $30 price points. To learn more about Chicago Theatre Week, visit

Chicago Theatre Week


Become Our Partner

Are you a Choose Chicago partner? If not, consider joining us. Choose Chicago’s partner organizations are the backbone of our visitor industry, which generates $12 billion in direct spending annually. As the official destination marketing organization for the city, Choose Chicago is dedicated to making that number–and your organization– grow.

Our efforts deliver strong value to you through print and digital marketing opportunities, educational and networking events, information resources, and many other platforms.

Choose Chicago’s customizable partnership packages allow your organization to choose which benefits fit best for you with your visitor marketing strategy. Dues start at $99 annually from the date you join, and include a customizable listing on, listing on visitor mobile app, invitations to partner events, access to research, directories, event/convention calendars and more.

For more information, please contact the Partnerships team at or call 312-567-8461.

Become Our Partner


In February 2014, Choose Chicago's City Concierges received American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute’s Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) designation. Recognized worldwide, the CGSP® designation is the highest acknowledgment of awarding-winning guest service for employees in the lodging and hospitality industries. Our Visitor Services front line staff successfully completed the comprehensive Guest Service Gold training. Choose Chicago is the first group of CGSP's in Chicago/Northeastern Illinois.

This spring, Macy’s and Choose Chicago will partner to bring a world class visitor experience at the Macy’s on State Street store.  The new Macy’s Visitor Information Center will be co-branded with Choose Chicago and will offer new services which will enhance the customer experience for travelers. As part of the partnership, the visitor center will incorporate state of the art technology, information, ticketing services and exclusive Chicago merchandise. 

With peak travel season upon us, don’t forget to participate in our collateral distribution program by sending us your materials to replenish the brochure racks at our official Visitor Information Centers. Chicago’s Visitor Information Centers are located at the Chicago Cultural Center at 77 E. Randolph Street, Macy’s on State Street at 111 N. State Street, and Historic Water Works Pumping Station at 163 E. Pearson Street. Residential-type guides, materials or directories will not be displayed.  Choose Chicago’s expert team of City Concierges at the Visitor Information Centers maximize the visitor experience in Chicago by showcasing the best of what the city has to offer through activities, attractions, tours and events. If your organization is interested in displaying collateral at our Visitor Information Centers, review the brochure distribution policy or contact Alicia Silva, Manager of Visitor Services, at

Choose Chicago Visitor Information Centers


Sales Missions

Every year, Choose Chicago conducts one sales mission to each of the international markets where we have offices including, Canada, Benelux, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, UK, and the U.S. Sales missions allow us to facilitate relationship-building between our local partners and decision-makers in the travel trade based in our target markets. These important events serve as a platform for the city and Choose Chicago partners to cohesively present all assets Chicago has to offer. Sales missions represent an efficient and cost-effective way of reaching target buyers including top Online Travel Agents, Tour Operators, Travel Agents, and the travel trade media.

Typical components of Choose Chicago sales missions include market briefings, B2B meetings, travel trade trainings, interviews with the travel trade media, and networking opportunities. Sales missions are open to any Choose Chicago partner interested in capturing a larger share of tourism-generated business from our key markets. For more information on the schedule and the cost of upcoming sales missions please contact: Kristi Schuda (U.S. & Canada); Bill Schmitt (Europe); Lourdes Gomez (Latin America); and Naomi Hattori (Asia)

Tourism Sales


Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor destination leveraging the city's unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. Read more



Choose Chicago’s Cultural Tourism department’s four objectives are:

  • Position Chicago as a global cultural destination by leveraging the rich and diverse resources of Chicago's arts, culture, and neighborhoods.
  • Serve as a catalyst for communication and partnerships among agencies, organizations, and stakeholders in arts, culture, and tourism.
  • Enhance the visitor experience and orientation.
  • Establish metrics to measure and track growth.



There are two Visitor Information Centers in the downtown area. They are located in the Loop at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph Street, Macy’s on State Street at 111 N. State Street, and Historic Water Works Pumping Station located on the Magnificent Mile at 163 E. Pearson St. For more information, click here

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