Partner Testimonials

Hear how some of our partners have benefited from a working relationship with Choose Chicago

Bill Johnson, President and CEO of Segway Experience of Chicago

Komal Patel, Co-Owner of Embeya

Amy Hartnett, Director of Sales and Marketing at Shoreline Sightseeing

Marc Jacobs (Partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises) & Steven Hartenstei (CFO/COO of Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants and Events), PCMA Sponsorship Committee Co-Chairmen



Bill Johnson Segway Experience

Riding a Segway is one of the most unique methods of exploring the city, and the folks at Segway Experience of Chicago have crafted premier sightseeing tours designed to educate and entertain.

Segway Experience has developed one of the finest, most educated teams of docents in its touring category, and is proud to be entering into its ninth year as the exclusive Segway Tour operator for the Chicago Architectural Foundation.

Segway Experience also provides Chicago's only Segway-authorized dealership, selling these efficient vehicles for business or recreational use.

Bill Johnson, President and CEO of Segway Experience, talks about joining Choose Chicago as a partner and how the industry network has benefitted his business. 

How would you describe your position?

I'm president and CEO, managing oversight of daily operations, including strategic planning with Manager Dan Jorisch. (pictured, on left)

What are your current projects?

We're currently ramping up and getting ready for (hopefully) warmer weather and a strong kickoff to our season. By partnering with Choose Chicago, we hope to identify new revenue growth opportunities. 

What are some of the goals of your organization?

Our goal is to provide a rewarding and exciting experience for visitors and local residents of Chicago. We will show them the City in a way that's not available in any other manner. We strive to be one of the highlights of a tourist's visit to the City.

How has your relationship with Choose Chicago benefited your business directly?

Choose Chicago has provided us opportunities to network with other hospitality organizations in the City, leading to increased business. The ability to "brainstorm" with Choose Chicago representatives on ways to promote our business has been very helpful. We have benefited from the networking along with a continual stream of hospitality industry news and information.

People are reluctant to try new things - however, with the resources behind Choose Chicago, they offer a tremendous return on your investment. They're a great team of talented people eager to help us grow our business.

Choose Chicago has introduced us to many "Event Planning" organizations in Chicago. This has resulted in partnerships with outside entities that have been very valuable.  

Why did you join? What were your expectations?

We wanted to partner with the city's official destination marketing organization that reaches out to Chicago's business and leisure visitors. We certainly expected to establish partnerships that would lead to increased visibility and sales.

Since joining, how has the organization lived up to your expectations?

Not only has the organization lived up to our expectations, but exceeded them. We believe we only get out of a partnership as much as we're willing to put into the relationship. We have found there's been a strong reciprocal ongoing outreach from Choose Chicago.



Komal Patel is co-owner of Embeya, a collaboration between her husband - international hospitality veteran Attila Gyulai - and Executive Chef Thai Dang. The chic and elegant Embeya boasts a bold, inventive menu of refined Asian cuisine, with every dish employing quality sourcing of the best ingredients.

Embeya's stylish, comfortable décor is designed by Chicago based designer Karen Herold of 555. In addition to Chef Thai Dang being nominated as Food and Wine's People's Best New Chef, and being honored at Zagat's Top 30 under 30, Embeya was the recipient of Esquire Magazine's Best New Restaurant Award in 2013.

Patel talks about joining Choose Chicago as a partner and how the industry network has benefitted her business.




How would you describe your position with Embeya? 

My husband Attila and I handle many aspects of the day-to-day operations including human resources, sales and marketing, PR, finance and our 250 label wine program.

What are your current projects?

Embeya is still in its infancy stage at 18 months old. Considering that I am new to the industry and to Chicago, I have spent quite a bit of time gaining a deeper understanding of how we can relay our message and connect with a niche audience that is seeking an elevated dining experience - a guest who is well travelled, enjoys a chef-driven menu with unique ingredients and prefers service that is refined yet friendly and passionate.

What are some of the goals of your organization? What projects are you most proud of?

The scope of my role at Embeya includes private event sales for two of our spaces as well as catering, social media engagement, off-site marketing and developing strategic partnerships with local hotels and cultural institutions such as Hubbard Street Dance, Choose Chicago and Goodman Theater. Considering how little of our annual budget is allocated to marketing or 
advertising, these partnerships have been the main/only pillars of our broad-scale marketing, and have contributed a great deal to our success.


Embeya interior


How has your relationship with Choose Chicago benefited your business directly?

Our relationship with Choose Chicago began when I requested to meet with a representative from the Partnership team. I was looking for some insight on how to increase Embeya's visibility in the convention business and to reach the tourist market that comes to Chicago for our vibrant art, theater and world-class dining. That first meeting exceeded my expectations as I was given a thorough understanding of the partner benefits and how we could work with Choose Chicago to help us get the word out locally as well as nationally.

I was further impressed by the follow up I received and help identifying relevant advertising opportunities within industry publications as well as personal introductions to select local hotels and the McCormick Place concierge team. It was very clear that Choose Chicago was genuinely 
interested in helping to get our business off the ground and develop a mutually beneficial and long-term partnership. 

Of all that Choose offers, be it networking, advertising or otherwise, what has been the greatest benefit to your organization?

Shortly after we signed up, we had the biggest month since our opening (September 2012) when we participated in Choose Chicago's Restaurant Week in January 2013. Choose Chicago puts a tremendous amount of effort in marketing this week long event, and as a new restaurant, we were overjoyed when we received hundreds of guests for the 7-day period, in what would have been otherwise been a very slow month for almost every restaurant.

What are some examples of how partnering with Choose Chicago has helped you continue to grow your organization?

Beyond Restaurant Week or large group inquiries, Choose Chicago is a truly valuable partnership opportunity for a small business like ours which depends on word of mouth marketing and being able to touch as many guests with our very unique brand. The numerous opportunities from Choose Chicago have offered us great exposure to a large audience that we would otherwise never have access to.

The opportunity to partner with Choose Chicago on IPW 2014 and the First Bites Bash as well as the leads and referrals for private dining space are just a few ways we are continuing to enjoy the benefits of partnering with the very passionate and committed team at Choose Chicago.



Amy Hartnett is Director of Sales and Marketing at Shoreline Sightseeing, Chicago's largest boat touring company. Shoreline Sightseeing offers architectural tours, classic lake and river tours and water taxi services, as well as special events like brew and wine tasting cruises. 

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Shoreline Sightseeing is in its third generation of family ownership and operation. It began with one vessel giving Lake Michigan boat tours and has since grown to 10 vessels and nine water taxis. 

Hartnett talks about joining Choose Chicago as a partner and how the industry network has benefitted her business.


Amy Hartnett testimonial


How would you describe your position with Shoreline?

I am very lucky to have an exciting and diverse job with Shoreline Sightseeing, in my consideration one of the greatest companies in the city. For Shoreline, I work with a team of sales managers, who handle group tours, private charters and tour operator relationships. I also manage the relationships between Shoreline and our media, PR, SEO/SEM and design companies.  My days are really never the same; one day this week started at 5 a.m. with Wayne Newton performing a concert on our boat, and ended with approving the new creative for our upcoming CTA bus wraps and bus shelters.  I am also the only one in the office who can fix the postage machine - the joke is that's my job security. 

What are your current projects?

This year Shoreline Sightseeing is really focused on celebrating our 75th Anniversary in Chicago. To celebrate we have new creative for CTA buses and bus shelters, we are planning the ultimate Throw Back Thursday on July 31st and we just hosted an open house for concierge, meeting planners and industry partners. 


Shoreline Sightseeing


What are some of the goals of your organization?  

Shoreline Sightseeing has a simple goal: to provide entertaining, safe and memorable tours on Chicago's lake and river to locals and visitors alike.  From our Architecture Tours, to Lake Tours to Fireworks Tours and Water Taxis, we want to show off Chicago!

What projects are you most proud of?

Shoreline Sightseeing never stops improving and we never get lazy. I'm really most proud to be a part of a company that works tirelessly to ensure our boats are clean, well maintained and safe. Our crew, from our greeters in their bright orange shirts to our deckhands (also in orange), will always be ready with a smile and the answer to any questions you may have. Our architecture guides are always learning and working to perfect their knowledge of Chicago's great architecture and fascinating history. My job to build group, online and third party ticket sales is made a whole lot easier because I am selling such a great product and great experience.

How has your relationship with Choose Chicago benefited your business directly?  

We work with Choose Chicago on many levels. I personally work with the tourism team on FAMs, tradeshows and sales missions. Shoreline has seen an increase in international tourism and in our third party relationships with Tour Operators. We host several FAMs a month set up by Choose Chicago, and this lets tour operators or media experience Shoreline Sightseeing firsthand. 

What would you say to a business owner or organization who is considering joining Choose Chicago?  

You only get out of any partnership what you put into it. Choose Chicago is a true advocate for Chicago and for its partners. I recently had a meeting with the Choose Chicago public relations department and my representative from MotionPR to talk about partnership strategies. Just paying your dues is not enoughyou have to build those relationships. 

Why did you join? What were your expectations?  

Shoreline Sightseeing was a member when I joined the team back in 2002. Our expectations have always been for Choose Chicago to be our advocate in the tourism and hospitality market, to grow the Chicago market on a broad level with marketing and strategic planning and to be a good partner.

Since joining, how has the organization lived up to your expectations?

In recent years, Choose Chicago has certainly exceeded our expectations. We have benefited from the ideas and work of Don Welsh and his team. Shoreline Sightseeing feels Chicago is being represented both on a domestic and international level.

Of all that Choose offers, be it networking, advertising or otherwise, what has been the greatest benefit to your organization?

Shoreline has benefited the most from the tourism and public relations team efforts. We have strong relationships with these two groups and feel the travel tradeshows, overseas offices, FAMS and sales missions really translate into increased business.

What are one or two concrete examples of how partnering with Choose Chicago has helped you continue to grow your organization?

Shoreline Sightseeing attended IPW this past year in partnership with Choose Chicago. We started the show by volunteering at the airport and host city booths at McCormick Place, and we participated in the show with a booth. We are still contracting with the connections we made at that show. Shoreline Sightseeing tickets are being sold to travelers in Germany, China, France and, of course, the U.S., just from one four-day tradeshow.



Marc Jacobs Steven Hartenstein

Marc Jacobs and Steven Hartenstein are co-chairs of the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Convening Leaders sponsorship committee. Our goal as host city for PCMA Convening Leaders 2015 taking place January 11-14 is to increase our share of meetings and conventions, thus producing new jobs, new tax revenue, and significant spending throughout Chicago. Jacobs and Hartenstein are both longstanding partners who've found much success through their mutually beneficial relationship with Choose Chicago.

Jacobs, Partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, and Hartenstein, CFO/COO of Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants and Events, talked about joining Choose Chicago as partners and how the industry network has benefited their business.

How would you describe your position with your respective businesses?

MJ: I am an Executive Vice President & Partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.  I oversee a division of restaurants - Antico Posto, Beatrix, Foodease, Foodlife, Mity Nice Bar & Grill and Sacred Grounds. 

SH: My title is CFO/COO of Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants and Events. Titles don't mean much in our group because we have a very hands on approach and do what it takes to get the job done.

What are some of the goals of your organization?  

MJ: My goal is to continue to drive food and service in the restaurants, and work on new concept growth. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a talented group of chefs and leaders, and am proud of all of the restaurants.  

Currently, I am focused on the growth and development of our newest concept, Beatrix. Beatrix is a neighborhood coffeehouse and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night and everything in between.

SH: Our most important goal is to exceed expectations one guest at a time and build customers for life. We strive to achieve this by differentiating ourselves from our competition and providing truly unique and memorable dining and event experiences across our restaurants and venues.

How has your relationship with Choose Chicago benefited your business directly?

MJ: We work together to tailor experiences for business travelers, travel agents and journalists coming to the city. Any business Choose brings to the city is a potential benefit to our restaurants.

We receive group leads and have the opportunity to bid on Choose client events, as well as showcase our restaurants for groups that Choose hosts.   

We are also given the opportunity to attend various trade shows as a part of the partnership.  We collaborate to create compelling content of events and happenings in the city both on social media and the Choose Chicago blog/events calendar.

SH: Choose Chicago has done an amazing job of making sure that Chicago is known all over the world. The leadership has truly never been stronger than under Don Welsh with the support of Mayor Emanuel. Our affiliation with Choose Chicago and being at the forefront of the meetings and conventions that come into Chicago has helped our business immensely.

What would you say to a business owner or organization that is considering joining Choose Chicago?

MJ: You must join Choose Chicago! 

If you are a Chicago area hospitality and tourism related business or service, there is no better way to promote yourself than through Choose and their various sales and marketing vehicles. 

Choose helps us reach guests traveling to the city, and allows us the opportunity to educate guests about our company, our restaurants, and the variety of experiences we can provide. They do an excellent job of bringing in new business from outside of the city and raising the visibility of our restaurants to new guests.

SH: I would say it is a must to be a partner of Choose Chicago because they help market and promote your business to the millions of meetings, conventions and leisure visitors who come to Chicago every year. As a partner you are also able to stay on top of everything going on in the City and uncover unique opportunities to further increase your company's awareness and drive new sales.

Why did you join? What were your expectations?

MJ: We joined Choose Chicago to stay connected to travel and convention business in Chicago. I am excited about the collaboration with Choose, the city and Lettuce.  

SH: I joined Choose Chicago so that I could be at the forefront of Chicago's visitor industry and build relationships with the many conventions and their attendees that come to Chicago.

Of all that Choose offers, be it networking, advertising or otherwise, what has been most the greatest benefit to your organization?

MJ: Networking, marketing and our relationship have been the most beneficial. Choose offers many networking events and committee opportunities for its partners. They are informational, social and allow us to meet other partners and network in new ways.  

At both the restaurant level and Lettuce corporate level, we regularly collaborate with Choose Chicago's social media and marketing team.  Whether it be announcing new restaurant openings, sharing special dinner offerings or featuring Twitter ticket giveaways, we are building relationships and new business.

SH: The organization has truly never been stronger and more global. That said, the greatest benefit to me and my organization has been the networking opportunities that I've had through the various partner programs and events.

Why did you get involved with PCMA? What is the conference's importance to you? To Chicago? To the industry? 

MJ: With more than 50 Lettuce Entertain You restaurants in the Chicagoland area, PCMA is very important to our business. The partnership with PCMA is a great example of developing new relationships and bringing future business. Bringing new and returning business minded individuals to Chicago in this volume will only help the city and our restaurants. We are excited to host the PCMA attendees, and show them all our city has to offer. 

SH: I got involved with PCMA because I understand the importance of a group like PCMA. Bringing conventions to our city has helped to make Chicago a world class city and has helped us become known as a top food city in the U.S. As for the importance of PCMA, I wanted to get involved to contribute to increasing our suppliers and others' awareness of the city.

Being the host city for PCMA will bring us more than 4,000 leaders to whom we have the opportunity to showcase our amazing city. This will boost our economy by bringing us more shows, creating more jobs and generating additional income for the city through increased tax dollars. Every visitor that comes to Chicago spends money in our hotels, in our restaurants and in our retail stores, so there's no better way to grow our business than word of mouth. PCMA will help greatly in boosting awareness of Chicago as a world class meetings destination.

Join Us. Become a partner of choose chicago today.
Partner Login
Log on to manage your account, access the convention calendar, exclusive research and more.
Have Questions ?
Hotel and Lodging Partner Pricing