Partnership Newsletter

Issue No. 3 December 2012

First Bites Bash

Tickets are on sale now for 2013 Chicago Restaurant Week's highly anticipated kickoff, First Bites Bash. This delicious engagement features head chefs from 50 restaurants throughout the area and showcases a preview of their 2013 Chicago Restaurant Week prix fixe menus. Guests are invited to sample delicious offerings and engage chefs in the opulent setting of Union Station's Great Hall. Last year's event boasted a sellout crowd of 1500 people. Tickets are available for purchase at for $95. "First in line" pricing at $75 is available for a limited time.

This year, the event is hosted by James Beard Foundation Award finalist Dirk Flanigan (Executive Chef of The Gage, Henri) and a portion of the proceeds generated by ticket sales will benefit Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

Date: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Time: 6-9pm
Location: Union Station's Great Hall
Cost: $95 / $75 for "First in line" tickets (limited-time offer)

Chicago Restaurant Week (February 1-10, 2013)

Chicago Restaurant Week is an annual Choose Chicago partnership program. Chicago Restaurant Week creates a citywide incentive for diners to explore Chicago's restaurant scene with unique, limited-time prix fixe menus in hundreds of area restaurants. Combined with an aggressive marketing and media relations strategy, this promotion, now in its sixth year, encourages Chicagoans and visitors to celebrate our Michelin-rated food scene in a creative and exciting way.

For more information regarding Chicago Restaurant Week, First Bites Bash and customizable sponsorship opportunities, contact or reach out to Kelly Kalmbach, Director of Marketing, at To purchase tickets to First Bites Bash, visit

Ask an Expert: Kyle McCarthy, Creative Director, Ogilvy

"Developing Your Brand's Mobile Experience"

How do the user experiences of a mobile and desktop site vary?

In the end, defining a desktop versus a mobile experience comes down to offering value to your audience based on where and how you're talking to them.

What does that mean, exactly?

As an example, let's consider The desktop site experience is comprehensive - it offers visitors a depth and breadth of content covering every aspect of the city.

How is that different from the mobile site?

Well we assume that a visitor to the city will be accessing on the go, most likely from their phone. So to accommodate this active need state, the mobile version of offers a different set of content and functionality.

Why the distinction?

Well, we know that most travelers do trip research ahead of their visit, so gone is much of the learning-based content. This makes for a slimmer, more navigable experience for the user. The mobile site also introduces functionality not available on the desktop, in the form of the ‘What's Nearby' tool. This allows users of the mobile site access to Choose Chicago listings based on their location.

What kinds of organizations and businesses should invest in a unique mobile site experience?

If the goal of your desktop site is transactional in nature, it's important to make sure that the mobile process to complete the desired transaction - be it a sale or an appointment - is as efficient and easy to complete as possible. Sometimes this means building a unique experience for mobile. 

What kinds of questions should you ask before investing in a mobile site?

What should your mobile experience look like? Should it simply be a mobile-optimized version of the desktop site, or something totally different? Really, the answer comes down to understanding your customer and their needs. Ask yourself -- how your consumer might use a mobile site differently than a desktop site?

What are common mistakes you see made by developers from the perspective of a user's mobile experience?

The most common mistakes are in not accounting for site width, not reconsidering content and with including heavy image files. 

What is the most common problem organizations run into while developing a mobile site?

Restraint, mostly. Because the mobile site represents a financial investment, there is oftentimes the desire to pack too much in the way of features and content into the mobile experience. Here's an accurate analogy: if a desktop experience is a car, then a mobile experience should just be the engine.

Kyle McCarthy is a Creative Director at Ogilvy in Chicago. Previous to that position, he was a partner at The Royal Order of Experience Design, an interactive boutique that designed digital experiences for Patagonia, CB2, and Quiksilver. He also led the team that redesigned

A Day in the Life: David Czechowski, Research Analyst

David Czechowski is a Research Analyst for Choose Chicago. Throughout his 20 year career, he has surrounded hiself with charts and algorithms, emerging with data to support the decisions of managers and policy makers. His role at Choose Chicago is to gain a full understanding of the tourism market, from metrics to trends, and provide reliable information to keep our industry moving forward.

Generally an early arriver, David's first activity of the morning is a meeting with Choose Chicago's Chief Financial Officer, Jim Meyer. After they crunch numbers and prioritize projects, it's a thorough review of local and national headlines that could affect Chicago tourism. Understanding the market and those who visit us requires tireless research, countless simulations and the construction of comprehensive databases. Chicago has been dubbed "a city in a garden," and for David, that plot is rooted in numbers.

David's main goal is to provide our partners, city government and Choose Chicago management with data and analysis that will lead to positive decisions for area business and the travel industry. For his department to become what he calls "the first contact" and "an authoritative source for tourism information in Chicago," he will need more than a computer, calculator and undying fervor for statistics. "Meaningful market intelligence is a two way street," he says, "Not only should partners seek us out for information, but they should also share their ‘boots on the ground' perspective of city activity."

To share your "boots on the ground" perspective or to learn more what Choose Chicago is doing to bolster the industry with research and data, contact David Czechowski,

Why Choose Chicago?

Lynda Simonetti, Marketing Manager, Waldorf Astoria Chicago

I transferred from the Hilton Chicago to the Beverly Hilton in August 2006. After spending six years in Beverly Hills, I was delighted to return to Chicago. With my new role as Marketing Manager at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, I am excited to begin this chapter of my career and thankful for our property's valuable partnership with Choose Chicago.

For Chicago to become a stronger global draw, it will require a powerful coalition of people within the industry. A goal has been placed on our city to draw 50 million visitors annually by 2020, which is ambitious, but achievable with the right leadership.  

Choose Chicago continues to build on the city's current presence in the marketplace and I'm confident that, with its reinvigorated brand, the organization will exceedingly support the marketing goals of our property.

I'm especially impressed with Choose Chicago's recent regional advertising campaign. During need periods like the first quarter, I believe that due to Choose Chicago's innovative campaign efforts, industry partners can project a return on investment in hotel occupancy and commerce.

As a partner, we recognize to achieve the lofty benchmark of 50 million visitors by 2020, Choose Chicago will lead us collectively to achieve this goal. For these reasons, Choose Chicago is key to the overall success of our destination.

Marketing Chicago

As a global marketing organization, Choose Chicago is constantly traveling the world to bring visitors to our city. Here's where we'll be connecting with our customers over the next 90 days:





Holiday Showcase

 December 12

Chicago, Illinois


American Bus Association Marketplace

January 4-9

Charlotte, North Carolina

Travel Professionals

 Professional Convention Management Association Annual Meeting

January 13-16

Orlando, Florida

Meeting Professionals

National Tour Association Annual Convention

January 20-24

Orlando, Florida

Travel Professionals

North American Journey (NAJ) Summit West

February 13-14

Marina Del Rey, California

Travel Professionals

Receptive Services Association of America (RSAA) Summit

February 20-21

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Travel Professionals

International Travel Bourse (ITB)

March 6-10

Berlin, Germany

Travel Professionals

Experient Envision

March 11-15

Houston, Texas

Meeting Professionals

Destinations Showcase DC

March 14

Washington, DC

Meeting Professionals

ConferenceDirect Annual Partner Meeting

March 17-21

Las Vegas, Nevada

Meeting Professionals

CBI-Pharma Meeting Planners Forum

March 19-22

Orlando, Florida

Meeting Professionals

North American Journey's (NAJ) Active America Summit - China

March 26-28

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Travel Professionals

For more information about opportunities to buy into select events like these, please email

Global Spotlight

Trade Shows

Choose Chicago exhibited at three significant tourism trade shows during November.


World Travel Market, held in London, attracts tour operators and travel trade from all over Europe. This show is crucial for connecting with travel professionals who are focused on leisure packaging. Chicago's presence included Mary Twomey of Chicago's Essex Inn; Aimee Willetts of The Field Museum; John Castronovo of The Fairmont Hotel; Sam Hancock of Choose Chicago UK; Bill Schmitt, Assistant Director of Leisure Sales, Choose Chicago; and John Curran, Managing Director of Tourism and Leisure Sales, Choose Chicago. The program included three full days of face-to-face meetings with more than three dozen companies, in addition to a steady flow of walk up interest in Chicago.


China International Trade Mart (CITM), held in Shanghai, is extremely important for Chicago as we continue to develop relationships in China and create packaged itineraries with tour operators. Our city was represented by Charles Sun of Choose Chicago's Shanghai office; Denny Xia of the Choose Chicago Beijing office; and Naomi Hattori, Sales Manager in charge of the Choose Chicago's China account. Each team member has a work history in the country and their ability to communicate effectively in the native language is an invaluable asset to marketing Chicago in China.


EIBTM, held in Barcelona, is an opportunity to network with meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market planners and leisure tour operators. Choose Chicago made three group presentations on each of its three allotted days, which featured the attributes of our city and hosted more than 40 face-to-face meetings. Partners in the booth included Arnaldo Altoran from Hiltons of Chicago; Marina Braica from Radisson Blu; Mary Twomey of Chicago's Essex Inn; John Curran of Choose Chicago, and Julie Van't Hul, Choose Chicago's Director of MICE Sales. The program also featured a reception announcing Chicago's McCormick Place as the host venue for AIBTM 2013 next June.

Familiarization Trips & Sales Missions


In November, Choose Chicago hosted seven tour operators from Mexico on a four-day tour of the city, which afforded a first visit opportunity for many of the attendees based in Mexico. In partnership with United Airlines and hosted by Fairmont Chicago, this event targeted top level tour operators who have the ability to influence the development of new catalogue product for Chicago. Choose Chicago Mexico's Carlos Allende escorted the group, which enjoyed a full itinerary of bookable product.


Also in November, our efforts in Canada yielded a pair of successful programs, including a FAM trip and sales mission to Toronto and Montreal. The FAM tour of Chicago included representatives from United Airlines and several tour operators from Ontario and Quebec. Hosted at the Fairmont Chicago, the operators experienced a showcase of Chicago attractions and restaurants.


The recently completed Canada sales mission was a very successful three-day visit, featuring face-to-face sales calls, destination presentations, and trainings at airlines, tour operators, and travel agents. Partners invested in the mission included Timmie Cortina, Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours; Nora Gainer, Art Institute of Chicago; Caryn Granzow, Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel; and Meg Solimine, The Peninsula Chicago.

For a list of all partner opportunities regarding trade shows, sales missions and familirization trips, contact Jordan Engerman, Director of Partnership, Choose Chicago at For more information on what Choose Chicago is doing to market our city to the world, contact John Curran, Director of Leisure Sales and Tourism, Choose Chicago

2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament

Four Ways to Get Involved with the 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament

From March 13-17, 2013, Chicago will be humming with the energy and excitement of over 300,000 Big Ten alumni. The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is an enormous event and an excellent chance to showcase Chicago in the national spotlight. Tap into the energy of this enormous engagement with four specific marketing opportunities.

  1. Become a Patron Partner: The Chicago Sports Commission offers three levels of partnership. Benefits of your partnership could include free tickets to 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament games and passes to the Official Alumni Party. For more information on specific packages, click here.
  2. Sponsor a Big Ten Event or Community Program: Help the Big Ten and give back to Chicago by sponsoring an event to benefit Chicago Public Schools and area youth. For more information on special Big Ten programs and events.
  3. Welcome Big Ten Alumni to Your Business with Marketing Materials: Beginning January 2013, the Chicago Sports Commission will have various Big Ten items available for purchase - banners, window clings, posters, lapel pins, etc. Decorating your business with these items will demonstrate your support and contribute to the excitement of this great event.
  4. Volunteer: Volunteer positions will be available in a number of areas during the tournament - from hotel welcome desks to game day operations.

For more information on how your organization can get involved with the Big Ten Tournament, contact Sam Stark at or call (312) 567-8470. For more information about Big Ten Partner Packages, click here.


On November 29, President Obama gave his perspective on our economy and the fiscal cliff debate that is ongoing in Congress.  Our industry supports 14 million American jobs and it is imperative that our voice be heard in this debate and to the potentially hurtful consequences looming from cutbacks in travel.

The President talked about the need to keep middle-class tax rates low, as well as tax cuts for small businesses and on the first $250,000 of every family's income. This allows for access to income for essential activities such as travel. We are hopeful that Congressional leaders will soon reach an agreement on heading off a series of automatic spending cuts and tax increases (which will occur in January), the uncertainty affects our industry on both business and leisure fronts.

Travel is a bright spot in the nation's economy, adding jobs at a 16 percent faster pace than the rest of the economy.  Next year, U.S. Travel projects that nearly 100,000 additional jobs will be created through visitor spending.  We need to keep the momentum moving forward.

If you would like to become a first responder who helps with our mission to protect and promote the tourism industry, please e-mail and remember to visit our Twitter page (@CCAdvocacy) for all the latest tourism news.

Save the Date -- Learn and Network at our Partner Event on Thursday, January 17

Watch your inbox for your invitation to kick the year off right at Time is Money - Getting Organized for 2013. This Choose Chicago educational seminar will be held at Chicago's Drake Hotel on Thursday January 17, 2013. Laura Olivares, a leading innovator in the field of professional organization will offer valuable insights to help drive your goals, elevate your productivity and liberate you from clutter and chaos in the year ahead! Choose Chicago Networking Reception to immediately follow.

Several times throughout the year, Choose Chicago hosts events designed specifically to help you develop professionally and to discover creative ways to promote your business and, of course, Chicago. For more information on this event and our 2013 calendar, contact Lori Adlesick, Director of Special Events, Choose Chicago at

Choose Chicago's Ambassador Program

Calling all superstars! We are currently looking for enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to be part of the 2013 Choose Chicago Ambassador Task Force. Ambassadors will have the valuable opportunity to network with industry professionals and Choose Chicago staff as we serve the city's convention and tradeshow customers.

The purpose of the Ambassador Task Force is to make conference and convention attendees, exhibitors and management feel welcomed and appreciated during their visit to Chicago. This program supports the hospitality efforts coordinated by Choose Chicago and enhances Chicago's "We're Glad You're Here! ®" recognition program. The Ambassador Task Force is key to adding a personal touch to each customer's experience and provides beneficial, face-to-face contact between local organizations and industry leaders.

Participation will provide Ambassadors with invaluable exposure within the city's hospitality community. Informational meetings, team building or networking events will be held once per quarter exclusively for Ambassadors. Participants will also be able to take advantage of various programs offered by Choose Chicago throughout the year.

Currently, the Ambassador Task Force is targeting 2013 shows to service. Each service will last approximately 1 - 2 hours, and Ambassadors are expected to fulfill a minimum of six hours of services over the course of the year. During select conventions and trade shows, Ambassadors will provide hospitality services, such as greeting convention attendees with refreshments at McCormick Place.

If you have questions or are interested in joining our 2013 Ambassador Task Force, contact Courtney White, Choose Chicago Client Services Manager, at Ambassadors will be selected from the various partnership categories of Choose Chicago (up to 2 individuals per company). To apply to our Ambassador Task Force, please fill out this application and return the completed form to

The Three Key Takeaways from Our Recent Marketing Workshop

With educational and networking events throughout the year, Choose Chicago is committed to offering unique and relevant ways to grow your business. This October, we gathered hundreds of partners for an instructive marketing workshop featuring members of the Choose Chicago staff and several partner businesses. In case you missed it, here are three valuable takeaways:

"There are over three billion searches PER DAY on Google and 400+ variables that determine your page rank. Those variables are: the content on your site; the quality of other sites that link to yours; your sites architecture and authority; and social signals. You need to have a strategy that cohesively maximizes all these variables. If not, with trillions of websites on the internet, enough others will outperform yours and your site won't be found unless someone types your name into a search engine." -Slingshot SEO

 "Did you know that while 80% of travelers use the internet as low as 30% of them (up to 50%) book accommodations online? That means as many as half of the visitors to your website may be influenced to convert but do not follow through. Make it easy for your customers to convert online; it just makes sense. "-Miles Partnership

"With 3 million projected visits to in 2012 and a 600K print distribution of the Chicago Official Visitor Guide, we're your best marketing investment to drive revenue from increased regional, national, and international visitation."-Choose Chicago

For more information on future seminars and events, contact Nina Winston, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Choose Chicago at   

Summer Ad Campaign Results

Choose Chicago's regional advertising campaign, which promoted leisure travel to Chicago, delivered a positive impact in terms of hotel occupancy, incremental revenue gains and ROI. Visitors from the six targeted drive markets (Cincinnati, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and St. Louis) generated some 233,000 incremental visits this past summer.

According to independent analysis conducted by Strategic Marketing & Research, Inc (SMARI), the 12-week television and digital campaign, at a cost of $1.3M, delivered 378,000 incremental hotel room nights and $207M in total spending between May and September 2012. So, what does that all mean exactly? For every $1 invested into the campaign, $169 was spent in the city of Chicago.

The campaign's success was further supported by data from Smith Travel Research (STR) which concluded that, when compared to the same four month stretch in 2011, the 2012 summer campaign profoundly influenced travel to Chicago. For example, leisure hotel stays throughout the Central Business District resulted in $2.2 million in new hotel tax revenues, a return of $1.69 for every $1 invested in the campaign. These same hotels realized significant growth in occupancy, average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR). Occupancy increased to 86.72% and ADR to $199.32, a 3.17 and 5.94 percent change respectively. RevPAR increased to $173.36, a 9.51 percent change from the same period in 2011.

Based on the success of the summer campaign, Choose Chicago has plans for a winter advertising effort as well. We want to thank our advertising partnerships with Broadway in Chicago, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium for a successful summer campaign.

Help Dirk Flanigan and Clint Rogers Win a James Beard Foundation Award

Choose Chicago invites you to vote early (and often) for the men who makes Michigan Avenue's Henri and The Gage two of the most sought after restaurants in Chicago's celebrated food scene. The 2013 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards feature an online nomination process and an opportunity for you to rally behind one of our city's most talented chefs and mixologists.

The Gage's Executive Chef Dirk Flanigan and Henri's Spirits Director Clint Roger are both nominated. Great Lakes voting is live now through December 31, click here to vote.

Choose Chicago's New Partnership Program

We are excited to introduce our new Choose Chicago Partnership Program in early 2013. With this change, we will offer a wide range of customizable options to help you expand your marketing reach. We've updated our model to give you the power to choose your level of participation based on budget and individual goals. Our new model will provide relevant choices that deliver strong value and bring about a more significant return on your marketing dollars.

As we approach the holidays, we're reminded of how lucky we are to be in Chicago during this especially festive time of year. And, with this change to our membership model, we eagerly await 2013.

For more information on the new Choose Chicago Partnership Program, contact