The Destination

Choose Chicago June 2018

A note from David Whitaker, President & CEO

Approaching Summer

As we flip the calendar to June, summer draws tantalizingly closer - and of course, there are many exciting events, conventions and happenings calling Chicago home in the coming months.

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As we look forward we also have a chance to note “year to date” hotel performance (Smith Travel Research Data). As detailed in a chart presented within this newsletter, room demand (hotel rooms consumed) is tracking up 6.9% for the first five months of the year.

We have also just received domestic visitor data from our nationally recognized research vendor - DK Shifflet -- for the first quarter.  A summary chart is also enclosed, including the very encouraging news that overnight visitors for the first quarter grew 10.3%.  There was growth in both business visitors (up 6.3%) and equally encouraging growth in leisure visitors (up 7.6%).  This growth mirrors many of the related hotel performance reports adding another layer of certainty and confidence in the current momentum we have been experiencing.  Growth in day-visitors remains important but the shift to higher growth in overnight visitors brings with it significantly more economic impact for our community and our partners.

Getting back to calendars, please consider marking yours and plan to be a part of Choose Chicago’s annual golf outing scheduled for October 4th at Harborside International Golf Club (more details enclosed and soon to follow).

Here’s wishing you and your colleagues a great and successful summer and as always, thank you for your continued support and cooperation with Choose Chicago and our team.

– David Whitaker

By the Numbers

Key Performance Indicators

Q1 2018 Growth Chart

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January-May YTD, 2018 (Preliminary)

  2017 2018 % Change
Occupancy 66.8% 68.5% 2.5%
ADR $178.22 $181.74 2.0%
RevPAR $119.03 $124.47 4.6%
Rooms Supply 6,150,586 6,411.637 4.2%
Room Demand 4,107,777 4,391,268 6.9%
Leisure 2,812,519 2,928,444 4.1%
Group 1,215,249 1,380,470 13.6%



Partner Event
L-R: Jennifer Carlisle, Choose Chicago, Jordan Engerman, Choose Chicago Director of Partnerships, Panelists Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, Geoffrey Baer, WTTW, Tim Samuelson, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, David Whitaker, Choose Chicago president and CEO, Mayela Hobbs and Jason Lesniewicz, Choose Chicago.

The June 6, 2018 Choose Chicago Partner event at the Chicago History Museum featured an extraordinary trio of Chicago city experts presenting the top tourism developments that will directly shape and impact the visitor experience in Chicago. Entertainment included musical highlights from the “Heartbreak Hotel” musical chronicling Elvis Presley’s early days, (playing June 30-Sept.9 at the Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut St.). More details next issue!

New Choose Chicago Partners

Partner Category
Aba Dining: Mediterranean
Dana Rebecca Designs Shopping: Jewlery/Watches
Escape Artistry Tours & Attractions: Attractions
ETA Meeting and Event Suppliers: Transportation Management
Fifth Element Group Inc. Meeting and Event Suppliers: Event Management/Production
Gibsons Italia Dining: Steakhouse
Kaletech LLC Meeting and Event Suppliers: Staffing Services
National Charter Bus Chicago Meeting and Event Suppliers: Charter Buses
Punch Bowl Social Chicago Special Event Venues: Restaurant Venues
The Launch Group Meeting and Event Suppliers: Event Management/Production
Zombie Taco Dining: Mexican

Meeting Professionals

The ‘Super Bowl’ of Conventions: ASAE Meets in Chicago This August

Expected total economic impact for the State of Illinois and City of Chicago: More than $16.8 million!

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From August 18-21, Choose Chicago and McCormick Place will host the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Annual Meeting and Exposition. ASAE is a membership-based organization of more than 35,000 association executives and industry partners, representing 7,400 organizations that plan 375,900+ meetings, exhibitions and seminars annually. Its members manage leading trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations across the United States, and in nearly 50 countries around the world. 

The ASAE Annual Meeting is a three-and-a-half-day event, with meeting attendance around 7,000 expected. The 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting’s total economic impact for the State of Illinois and City of Chicago is expected to exceed $16.8 million. The ASAE meeting also will bring over $1 million in local taxes and support over 3,500 jobs. Most importantly, ASAE brings with it the potential to generate up to $500 million in future meetings and events for Chicago.

Choose Chicago will host the ASAE’s Opening Reception on Saturday, August 18 from 7-9:30pm on the McCormick Square campus to showcase our newest neighborhood additions, the Wintrust Arena and the Marriott Marquis Chicago. To accommodate this private event, there will be some street closures on Saturday, August 18. 

We appreciate the community’s support of this important endeavor as we continue our work to bring meetings, events and visitors to the City of Chicago, thereby creating jobs and tax revenue for our city and community.

Choose Chicago Welcomes The National Restaurant Association

From left to right: Kat Frerichs - Ace Bounce, Sara Turkowski - Choose Chicago, Sarah Morse - Chicago Loop Alliance, Archie Campbell - J&J Exhibitors Service, Tracy Robinson, Robin McKay - Steak 48, Erica Smith - Choose Chicago, Chrissy Dwyer - Ivy Room, Cindy Payne - Choose Chicago, Mary Pat Heftman - National Restaurant Association, Maggie Schultz - theWit Hotel, Salvador Perez - Choose Chicago, Jessica Green - AC Hotel Chicago Downtown, Dana Adams - Loyola University Chicago
Global Dev
From left to right: Andrea Angelloti-Myers, GES - onPeak, Sirinan Beres -, Caroline Thompson - Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile, Mallory McSweeney - 4 Star Restaurant Group, Marie Coffou - Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, Robin McKay - Steak 48, Barbara Graham - Navy Pier, Cindi Webber - Sound Investment AV, Jessica Green - AC Hotel Chicago Downtown

Chicago STARS Mixology Competition Highlights the Art of Mixology

Jarmel Doss
The winner: Jarmel Doss, assistant bar director at the Aviary, 955 W. Fulton Market.

The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with Choose Chicago, the Illinois Restaurant Association and some of Chicago’s most highly regarded bartenders invited guests to two new Lettuce Entertain You venues -  Aba and The Dalcy – for the evening’s contest. The Dalcy, at 302 N. Green Street, shares a third-floor space with Aba, a new restaurant with a rooftop patio from Chef CJ Jacobson.

Ten local mixologists from across Chicago competed to create the most innovative cocktail, with results judged by acclaimed mixologists and “World’s Best Bartender” champions, Charles Joly and Ago Perrone.


ASCO Cancer
From left to right: Bill Rancic, Jane Hertzmark Hudis, Giuliana Rancic, Dr. Thomas Roberts - Chair, Conquer Cancer Foundation, Dr. Clifford Hudis - CEO, ASCO and Conquer Cancer, Raj Mantena - Board member, Conquer Cancer Foundation.

Over $600,000 was raised at the Conquer Cancer Dinner, which took place at the Loews Chicago Hotel on Saturday, June 2, 2018 during the American Society of Clinical Oncology's (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago. The ASCO annual meeting had record breaking attendance of over 40,000.

Cultural Tourism

Get Ready for Season Two of Chicago Friday Night Flights!

Highlighting the city’s status as an epicenter of the craft beer movement (we’re home to over 65 neighborhood breweries and counting), Chicago Friday Night Flights’ 2018 lineup invites you to exciting venues located in some of Chicago’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Best of all, the second annual Chicago Friday Night Flights will feature even more breweries per event.

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Season two of Chicago Friday Night Flights kicks off June 15 with over 25 Chicago breweries at Gallagher Way. Serving as Lakeview's town square, Gallagher Way offers a beautiful open-air gathering place next to historic Wrigley Field. Neighborhood favorites Smoke Daddy and Big Star, part of recently opened Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way, will offer their signature BBQ and tacos to pair with a variety of craft beers drawn from neighborhoods across the city.

Visit for locations, dates, and sampling passes.

Innovative Travel App Vamonde Shares Chicago Stories

Choose Chicago is partnering with leading travel app Vamonde to share the city’s stories, as well as those of our partners. Vamonde offers a unique multimedia mobile platform, and is the culmination of more than 15 years of academic research on digital placemaking combined with field placemaking studies for organizations across the globe. Choose Chicago's carefully curated Vamonde experiences are a great way to engage visitors and entice them to come back to your venues again and again.

Global Development

Educating the World About Chicago as a Premier Leisure Destination

Global Development

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New Zealand, France, South America, Austria, Asia, Italy & Belgium learn all about Chicago

New Zealand: Choose Chicago’s Global Development team hosted its first New Zealand webinar for 11 Helloworld Travel Agents, educating them about what makes Chicago a great destination for their clients.

France: In collaboration with Air France, Choose Chicago conducted a training day on April 5th in Paris, targeting an impressive 51 French Travel Trade agents. This is the first time Choose Chicago has participated in this training. 

South America: From April 7-10th, Choose Chicago’s Global Development Team collaborated with American Airlines & ABREU Tours, Inc. to host a FAM (Familiarization trip) in Chicago. This FAM showcased some of Chicago’s top attractions and leisure activities for 10 agents, to enable them to better sell the Chicago product to their clients. Five Choose Chicago partners participated in this FAM which targeted Chile specifically. 

Austria: The team welcomed eight agents from Austria’s Travel Trade from April 12-14th for a hosted FAM, with support from FTI Touristik, British Airways, & Illinois Office of Tourism. Fourteen Choose Chicago partners participated in this initiative to train the Austrian Travel Trade on Chicago as a destination.

Asia: From April 16-19th, the Global Development team conducted our annual West Coast Sales Mission in Los Angeles, Torrance, & San Gabriel Valley. This mission educated Japanese, Chinese, & South Korean Tour Operators and Receptive Tour Operators about the city. A maximum number of appointments were held, with over 91 agents trained on Chicago as a leisure destination. We thank the six Choose Chicago partners who joined us in this successful mission. 

Italy: Five Choose Chicago partners participated in our “Evolution Travel Italy, Route 66 FAM” from April 17-19th. Twelve Italian agents began their Route 66 experience here in Chicago, and were exposed to some top experiences that are a “must-see.” 

Belgium: The Global Development team welcomed eight key decision-makers from Belgium’s Travel Trade, in collaboration with Connections Belgium & United Airlines. The goal of the FAM was to educate the agents on the product available in Chicago, as well as convince Connections to carry a new group tour package in Chicago for next year. Fourteen Choose Chicago partners participated in this FAM from April 20-24th. 

Global Development

The Global Development team just returned from a very successful IPW in Denver, CO at which 150+ one on one appointments were conducted. A BIG Thank You to the twelve partners that joined our aisle so as to send a cohesive message to top tourism buyers from around the globe, especially first time aisle partners Wendella and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Global Development, Media Relations and our partners also collaborated on organizing a VIP Client Event attended by 100+ travel trade buyers and media from around the world.

Chicago Sports Commission

Soldier Field Selected as a Host Venue for 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup

Soldier Field

On May 18, 2018, Soldier Field, SMG, The Chicago Park District and Chicago Sports Commission announced that Chicago will be a host city for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

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Taking place every two years, the Gold Cup is the official national team championship of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), which crowns the best national team in the region and features some of the hemisphere’s best players. Chicago has previously hosted the Concacaf Gold Cup four times, including the 2007 and 2013 Finals, 2009 Semi Final and 2015 Group Play matches.

Drawing large crowds and millions of television viewers across the region, the Gold Cup is a celebration of soccer, sportsmanship, and culture. The 2019 Gold Cup will feature an expanded format of 16 national teams, with the 10 additional participating nations qualifying through the Concacaf Nations League Qualifier competition, to be played in September, October, and November 2018, and March 2019. Groups and schedules will be announced in the next year.

"Soccer is a global sport and Chicago is the ideal global city to once again host the Concacaf Gold Cup," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Chicago looks forward to welcoming some of soccer's best players and fans, and inspiring the next generation of soccer players in communities across our city."

The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup is sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company, Cerveza Modelo, Nike, Scotiabank, and Toyota. The tournament will be broadcast across the U.S. on the Univision and FOX family of networks and transmitted on radio in Spanish by Fútbol de Primera Radio Network, and broadcast by television partners in countries around the world.

Exclusive Presale Offer

Fans can now visit to sign up for an exclusive pre-sale offer for any Gold Cup game day in 2019, before seats go on sale to the general public. Purchasing tickets early is strongly encouraged. 

Special Olympics’ Golden Anniversary in Chicago

It all started in the 1960s when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started an innovative summer camp for young people with intellectual disabilities at her home in suburban Washington, D.C. The goal: to see if these young people -- most of whom lived in institutions -- could take part in sports and physical activities.

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They could and they did.

In July 1968, the first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago -- a joint venture between the Kennedy Foundation and the Chicago Park District.

Choose Chicago is supporting the Special Olympics’ golden anniversary in a variety of ways, including sponsoring the street banners and volunteering at various 50th Anniversary events.

Special Olympics is asking for our assistance in in promoting the events being held in Chicago as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration. 

Any additional promotion you can provide to Special Olympics by including anniversary celebration information in newsletters, pushing it out on social media or to other media partners or any other means of sharing would be appreciated.

Media Relations

Read all about what the world is saying about Chicago!

Media value and publicity generated from outreach and promotional efforts for the Americas, Europe and Asia totaled approximately $3.5 million in April 2018. Read a sampling of it below:

Save the Date!

Chicago Golf Classic

Chicago Golf Classic

Thursday, October 4, 2018
Harborside International Golf Club - Chicago
11001 S. Doty Avenue East
Chicago, IL 60628
9:00am Shotgun Start

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Save the date to join Choose Chicago and industry colleagues for a great day of golf at this year’s Chicago Golf Classic. The Chicago Golf Classic is a terrific opportunity to network with colleagues, entertain clients and enjoy a great day of golf while developing ongoing and new partnerships within the industry.

Not a golfer? There are still many opportunities to be involved in this annual hospitality industry event. Other sponsorship opportunities include but are not limited to: food and beverage, gift, reception, prizes etc. Call or email Lori Adlesick today to discuss how you can get involved: or 312-567-8496.


​For a complete listing of everything that's happening, see the  Choose Chicago Events Calendar

Laver Cup Tickets

Laver Cup

Laver Cup tickets are going fast, and limited single-session tickets are on sale today! Don’t miss your chance to attend the Laver Cup's debut in the U.S. at the United Center.


Follow @lavercup on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Volunteers Needed


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.