The Destination

Choose Chicago April 2018

A note from David Whitaker, President & CEO 

Register For the 2018 Annual Meeting of Partnership

High among our list of things to share and encourage is a warm and sincere invitation for you and your colleagues to attend Choose Chicago’s Annual Meeting of Partners on April 12 starting at 2:00 pm, hosted in the amazing new Wintrust Arena.  If you have not already done so – please rsvp accessing this link: Register Now

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We are again proud to collaborate with our colleagues and partners at Industry Xchange to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day.  The link provides registration information for both events followed by a great reception to close the day.

With two months reported, Smith Travel Research data compiled from our partner hotels (see charts included) reflects that January and February generated very encouraging results with overall Hotel Room Demand up 12.5% year-to-date.  This was highlighted by a 32.8% increase in Group Rooms consumed, as there were two major conventions meeting in Chicago for the very first time as well as three large meetings convening at McCormick Place that were not part of the meetings line up in 2017.  In addition, several meetings reported significant increases - if not records - in attendance. That’s another example of how meetings that Choose Chicago (sorry for the pun) tend to thrive here.  It’s a vivid illustration of the importance of luring, winning and hosting meetings especially in the winter and shoulder period.

We are also encouraged by the steady and important increase in Leisure Room Night Demand in our hotels – up 5.9% after two months.  This keeps pace with the increase in Leisure Demand generated in 2017 and remains another key priority for Choose Chicago and our partners.

Here’s to keeping the momentum going and to hopefully seeing you at our Annual Meeting.  And as always, thank you for your continued collaboration and support.

David Whitaker
President & CEO
Choose Chicago

Featured News

Laver Cup Tickets On Sale

Roger Federer, 20-time Grand Slam champion and one of the greatest players of all time, was joined by the legendary Rod Laver, seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe and top-ranked Australian male Nick Kyrgios in Chicago on Monday, March 19 to launch the Laver Cup, which will take place at the United Center from September 21-23.

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Tickets for the highly-anticipated second edition of the Laver Cup, a unique team competition unlike any other in men’s tennis, go on sale Friday, March 23 at 10:00am Central Daylight Time (CDT) via and

Tickets are expected to be in high demand so fans are advised to get in early to book for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I’m very excited to be here in Chicago today to launch the Laver Cup,” Federer said. “The first tournament in Prague was very special for both the players and the fans and I can’t wait to play the Laver Cup here in the sports-mad city of Chicago.” Read More >

The Laver Cup announcement marked Roger Federer’s first time in Chicago.  He took time out to take in the city.

Save the Dates

Global Development

Choose Chicago’s Global Development Department is sharing the Chicago story across the globe. We work diligently to bring international and domestic leisure travelers to Chicago, focusing on both the frequent independent traveler as well as groups.

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Trade Shows

Global Development attended NAJ West trade show in Los Angeles, CA February 21-22. There were 23 appointments with West Coast Receptive Tour Operators, with a focus on inbound group business from Asian & European markets.

Trainings & Sales Calls

Our team collaborated with Brand USA for ‘Namaste USA’ in Mumbai & Delhi on February 5-8. This was an opportunity to interact with India’s Travel Trade, comprehend the trends, discuss their requirement, and assist them in providing the required information to their customers. Choose Chicago provided information on a selection of options for FIT, GIT, & MICE travelers – from exciting and unique attractions, to parks and outdoor activities. It is important to note that Mumbai, followed by Delhi, are the two wealthiest cities in India and comprise of a high-income society. There were 118 appointments held with 290 agents trained on Chicago as a destination.

Additionally, Choose Chicago maintained presence in India by participating in Brand USA’s Annual Discover USA Educational Seminar in Bangalore on February 21st. This event provided an opportunity to promote the destination and enhance existing product knowledge on Chicago as a year-round destination for travelers from India. A total of 106 agents were trained with 60 appointments held.

 Global Development conducted a sales mission in Brisbane, Melbourne, & Sydney with Visit USA Australia from February 19-23. Choose Chicago built the foundation for Chicago brand and destination presence in a new market (first official Chicago destination presence in Australia). Each city had a Choose Chicago table and 3-minute stage presentation. The first two hours of each show consisted of training agents at our table (free flow format) followed by a 2-hour dinner presentation. In Sydney, we also had B2B appointments and Media appointments at IMM. Over 814 agents trained with 32 appointments held.

On February 26, United Airlines & Big Bus Tours partnered with our team to host a United Airlines Sales Conference Training here in Chicago. 26 United Sales Reps from United Airlines Global Sales Team (EMEAI & Asia Pacific) were trained on what Chicago has to offer as a leisure destination.


Chicago Restaurant Week:

Chicago Restaurant Week kicked off on January 26, 2018 and continued through February 8, 2018, featuring over 370 restaurants (a new record!). The two week dining program featured prix-fixe menus at $22 for lunch and brunch, and $33/$44 for dinner (excluding tax, gratuity and tip).

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New for 2018, we had a CRW Extension program where CRW restaurants who chose to participate extended their menus through February 11, 2018 to coincide with Chicago Theatre Week.

Chicago Theatre Week:

Chicago Theatre Week featured over 120 productions at a discount ticket price ($15, $30 or less) February 8-18, 2018. Visitors could view productions, learn more and purchase tickets at

  • Total number of pageviews: 115,568
  • Total number of unique pageviews: 88,692

Media Relations

Choose Chicago’s Media Relations team hosted and/or supported more than 16 members of the media (group press tours and individual media visits) to Chicago in February 2018.

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Hospitality and Tourism Leaders Host Event to Bring Industry Jobs To Chicago

Chicago’s hospitality industry is an essential and driving force for economic growth and job development. In addition to generating more than $15 billion in spending and more than $900 million in tax revenue last year, tourism has led to an increase of more than 20,000 jobs since 2010.

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To meet that increasing need, for the second year in a row, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, in collaboration with Choose Chicago, the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, the Illinois Restaurant Association, The Magnificent Mile Association and Chicago Loop Alliance, known as the Hospitality Hires Chicago partners, held its Hospitality Hires Chicago hiring event.

Nearly 60 Employers gathered at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel on Thursday, March 15, 2018 to interview job seekers, with an eye toward filling more than 100 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries.  The prospective employers conducted on-the-spot interviews and made conditional job offers.

On hand to kick off the event were Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin M. Norington-Reaves, Choose Chicago President and CEO David Whitaker, Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards, Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Marc Gordon, Illinois Restaurant Association Chairman Jim Kallas and Magnificent Mile Association Chairman Rick Simon.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly were also on hand and among those making remarks at a press conference at the start of the event.


Awards, accolades and shout outs.

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Chicago's Joseph Flamm Wins 'Top Chef'

Chicago native and Spiaggia Executive Chef Joseph Flamm defeated fellow South Side native Adrienne Cheatham to win the ‘Top Chef’ honor from the Bravo TV series of the same name.

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Flamm is the first ‘Top Chef’ winner from Chicago since 2008.

Flamm, who grew up in Humboldt Park, is the Chef de Cuisine of Chicago’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia. Working alongside Chef Tony Mantuano, Chef Flamm showcases his Midwestern and Italian heritage through Spiaggia’s new tasting, bar and a la carte menus.

The season 15 finale of ‘Top Chef’ was aired on March 8.  You can watch the crowning moment HERE.

The newly-crowned ‘Top Chef’ recently joined Choose Chicago at a special event in Washington, DC.

In the photo, left to right are:

Heather Carnahan, Conference Manager, NCTM, Laura Northrop, Meeting Planner, SHRM, Top Chef Season 15 Winner, Executive Chef of Spiaggia and Chicago Native Chef Joe Flamm, Caryn Pepper, Meetings Manager, Interel + Meetings Management Group, Sondra Williams, Manager, Member & Staff Engagement, American Benefits Council, Marc Anderson, Executive Vice President, Choose Chicago

Chicago Ties for 2nd in OpenTable's Rankings

By Jonathon Sadowski

Nine Choose Chicago Partners make OpenTable’s newly released list of the 100 Best Restaurants for a Big Night Out in America for 2018.

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OpenTable created the list based on user reviews between Feb. 1, 2017 and Jan. 31, 2018. The company scored restaurants based on the average customer rating, number of user reviews and whether or not users frequently ranked the place as a “hot spot.”

8 Chicago Restaurants Named Among 100 Best in the Country

The list features an array of buzzworthy restaurants, from up-and-coming to established, trendy to tried-and-true, across 24 states and Washington D.C.,” Caroline Potter, chief dining officer at OpenTable, said in a press release. “Whatever your notion of a big night out entails, whether it’s a bustling bar scene or a spot to see-and-be-seen, fun is on the menu at any of these honorees.”

These Chicago restaurants made the cut:

  • Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton St.
  • Duck Duck Goat, 857 W. Fulton Market
  • Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, 1028 N. Rush St.
  • Girl & the Goat, 809 W. Randolph St.
  • Maple & Ash, 8 W. Maple St.
  • RPM Italian, 52 W. Illinois St.
  • RPM Steak, 66 W. Kinzie St.

The only city to appear more on the list than Chicago is New York City with 10 restaurants. Las Vegas and Chicago tied for second place with seven restaurants each. California and Florida were the best-represented states, with 18 and 17 spots, respectively.


April Destination KPIs

By The Numbers April



Upcoming Events

Volunteers Needed

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Choose Chicago, McCormick Place/SMG and the City of Chicago are excited to host the 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition.

We are seeking volunteers to assist in welcoming and directing 7,000+ attendees at the airports, hotels, hosted major events, and other activities. SIGN UP HERE