May 5, 2016

Kara Carmichael

Melanie Perez

Choose Chicago today announced that growth in Chicago's leisure hotel room demand set new records in the first quarter of 2016 and drove overall performance to surpass post-recession average performance. With 1.448 million rooms occupied, leisure demand set new records in all three months of the quarter for a total increase of 6.8 percent from the first quarter of 2015. In total, first quarter 2016 hotel performance saw 1.99 million rooms occupied, surpassing the first quarter post-recession average of 1.75 million.

"We are making strategic investments that generate results and ensure we drive tourism in Chicago no matter the quarter or the circumstances," Choose Chicago Board Chair Desiree Rogers said. "We think big in Chicago, and our focus remains on elevating Chicago as a leading global destination and beating Mayor Emanuel's goal of 55 million visitors by 2020."

Following state restoration of Choose Chicago's statutorily-mandated funding, Choose Chicago launched a $1.4 million regional winter advertising campaign, double its investment in Q1 2015, to help spur leisure visitation during a typically challenging quarter.

Choose Chicago's 2016 winter marketing campaign and strategic media buy, which included a media mix of addressable TV, online video, digital display and social media, reached more than 5.9 million households and generated 588,435 incremental trips to Chicago, according to Strategic Marketing and Research Insights (SMARInsights). The campaign targeted frequent Chicago visitors and lifetime loyalists with the strongest intent for future visits in the following markets: Illinois (outside of Chicago), Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri.

The overall return on investment (ROI) for Choose Chicago's winter marketing campaign was $383 for every media dollar invested, far surpassing the industry benchmark rate of $99.64.

"Our company measures marketing effectiveness for destinations across the country, and Chicago's winter campaign performed extremely well - better than what we typically see for destinations," Andrea Huisden, research analyst at SMARInsights said. "Choose Chicago combined strong creative with an effective media plan that made excellent use of targeted digital and social media to influence significant travel to the city."  

According to SMARI, for every dollar of Choose Chicago media expenditure $14.56 was returned in total hotel taxes and $4.96 was returned in Chicago hotel taxes.

"Our winter advertising included tactical ads highlighting special events like Chicago Restaurant Week, Chicago Theatre Week and Chinese New Year to influence travel in the first quarter," Marc Anderson, interim CEO and Chief Sales Officer of Choose Chicago said. "We have also shifted from a seasonal campaign approach to an ‘always on' marketing strategy in 2016 to keep Chicago top of mind throughout the trip planning process."

Chicago experienced a record-setting 2015 with domestic visitation surpassing 50 million visitors for the first time and total visitation expected to exceed 52 million. This achievement brings Chicago even closer to reaching Mayor Emanuel's goal of 55 million visitors annually by 2020. Chicago's tourism industry has added more than 15,000 jobs since 2010, including an estimated 3,800 new jobs in 2015.

Tourism in 2015 also generated $935 million in total tax revenue, $2.2 billion in revenue for Chicago's hotels and $124.1 million in hotel tax revenue. Every dollar invested in Choose Chicago generates $25 in state and local taxes.

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About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official destination marketing organization for Chicago. Our mission is to bring regional, national and international business and leisure visitors to Chicago for the economic benefit of the City, the community and our membership.