The Destination

 Choose Chicago March 2019 

A note from David Whitaker, President & CEO

The first two months of the year have reflected the initial challenges facing Chicago in 2019, coming off the heels of such a successful meetings calendar in 2018. Year-to-date through February, there were over 72,500 fewer room nights generated from group/meetings and or convention business (as an example, the major heating and air conditioning show we hosted the last full week of January 2018 brought with it over 65,000 attendees).

It is simply imperative that we continue to focus on the key shoulder and summer months ahead. Plans are in place to significantly boost our leisure promotions in order to help make up this lost ground. You will be hearing more about those efforts in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Speaking of weeks ahead, we are thrilled that over 1,100 of our partners and members have already registered to attend the 2019 Annual Meeting scheduled on April 18th at 3:00 pm. If you have not already done so, please click and register here: 

Register for annual meeting 

Hope to see you on April 18th. And as always, thanks for your continued cooperation and support.

David Whitaker
President & CEO

By the Numbers

Key Performance Indicators

January-February YTD, 2019  (Preliminary)

  2018 2019 % Change
Occupancy 54.6% 49.7% -9.1%
ADR $138.82 132.07 -4.9%
RevPAR $75.81 $65.59 -13.5%
Room Supply 2,491,126 2,575,995 3.4%
Room Demand 1,360,438 1,279,329 -6.0%
Leisure 935,518 928,578 -0.7%
Group 395,890 323,339 -18.3%

Register for the 2019 Annual Meeting of Partnership

Annual Meeting 2019 Header

Please join Choose Chicago at our Annual Meeting of Partnership to discuss the industry's accomplishments and share goals for the coming year.

Thursday, April 18, 2019
Registration: 2 – 3 p.m. 
Annual Meeting: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Reception: 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

McCormick Place West – Skyline Ballroom
2301 S. Indiana Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616

Event is complimentary.

We look forward to seeing you!

Register Now


Choose Chicago Welcomes 25 New Partners

Register Today for James Beard Eats Week!

April 26-May 6, 2019

James Beard Eats Week

The James Beard Foundation will return to Chicago for its 29th Annual James Beard Awards on Monday, May 6, 2019 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. As proud hosts of this prestigious event, Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association are committed to solidifying the city’s culinary industry by strengthening relationships between our partners and the James Beard Foundation. In the spirit of building these connections, we are excited to announce registration is officially open to participate in James Beard Eats Week! 

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The James Beard Foundation will return to Chicago for its 29th Annual James Beard Awards on Monday, May 6, 2019 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. As proud hosts of this prestigious event, Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association are committed to solidifying the city’s culinary industry by strengthening relationships between our partners and the James Beard Foundation. In the spirit of building these connections, we are excited to announce registration is officially open to participate in James Beard Eats Week!

Now in its fifth year, James Beard Eats Week is 11 days of dining devoted to the celebration and recognition of James Beard himself. Beard nurtured a generation of American chefs who have changed the way we eat and his legacy of culinary excellence and integrity to generations of home cooks and professional chefs lives on. James Beard remains synonymous with American food.

Requirements for participation in James Beard Eats Week include;

  • Create a James Beard-inspired dish OR menu and offer it in your restaurant between the program dates: Friday, April 26-Monday, May 6, 2019.
    • Dishes/menus can be completely customized and there is no mandatory pricing structure
    • As a resource for you to create your dish or menu, The James Beard Foundation maintains a list of American Classic James Beard inspired recipes on their website
  • A required $100 donation payable by check or credit card to the James Beard Foundation Scholarship Fund, which will directly support aspiring Chicago culinary students on a path to success in the rewarding world of the hospitality industry

Participating restaurants will be featured on the James Beard Awards website, in addition to receiving substantial marketing promotion via Choose Chicago, the Illinois Restaurant Association and the James Beard Foundation’s channels.

Register Now

The deadline for submission is Friday, March 22, 2019. For additional information, please contact Alexa Gallagher at or (312) 945-4222.

March Partner Event

Does your business have a strategy in place for managing the world of online reviews?

Consumer generated reviews are now the most influential factor in determining whether a customer will choose your business vs. your competitors. More than 86% of all consumers read online reviews.

This educational session will provide best practices for responding to customer reviews, both positive and negative, learning how to leverage your reviews as a marketing tool, and managing them to ultimately drive new and repeat business across all platforms.

Emily Washcovick

Yelp’s Community Engagement Manager will educate you on Yelp’s free business tools available to help you start engaging customers on the most used review site for local businesses. Learn from industry partners Ignite Glass Studio, DineAmic Restaurant Group, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, and Tortoise Supper Club about strategies implemented to grow and market their business.

Emily Washcovick
Community Engagement Manager

March 21, 2019

8:30am – 9:00am – Registration/Networking/Breakfast
9:00am – 10:00am - Presentation

The Mid-America Club
Aon Center
200 E. Randolph Street – 80th Floor
Chicago, IL 60601

$30 per person

Register Now

Looking for great hospitality interns and job candidates?

The Chicago Opportunity Exchange, an innovative new talent matching platform is partnering with Choose Chicago to help with your recruiting needs  – from food and guest services to events, sales, marketing, and tech.

COE has a diverse, talented pool of students and alums from Chicago's best colleges including DePaul University, Roosevelt University, Kendall, Kennedy-King College and more, as well as tapping into the region’s workforce/community agencies.


  • Register your company
  • Answer specific internship/job survey questions
  • Post internship ($19) or job ($39)
  • Reach Chicago’s key colleges & workforce agencies
  • Match, Score & Rank with the best fit

Questions?  Contact Andree Dolan

Hospitality Hires Chicago Returns

Hospitality Hires Chicago

Hospitality and tourism leaders return to the Palmer House Hilton on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 for the 4th Hospitality Hires event, connecting more than 200 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries to job seekers across Chicagoland.  

Some 50 employers from Chicago-area retail, transportation, food service, hospitality, and related sectors are confirmed to attend.  Employers are committed to making on the spot offers and will be on hand conducting interviews for hundreds of job openings. 

The event is sponsored by the Hospitality Hires Chicago partners: The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership in collaboration with Choose Chicago, the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, the Illinois Restaurant Association, The Magnificent Mile Association, Chicago Loop Alliance, and the Near South Planning Board.

Chicago’s hospitality industry is an essential and driving force for economic growth and job development, generating more than $15 billion in spending and more than $900 million in tax revenue last year. Tourism increases since 2010 has led to an increase of more than 20,000 jobs. To date, more than 600 people have received conditional job offers at these hiring events.

Chicago’s Buddy Guy Wins 8th Grammy

Buddy Guy is quoted as saying, “Music makes people happy, and that's why I go on doing it.”  He’s been ‘doing it’ since 1967, when he released his debut album, I Left My Blues in San Francisco.  Since then, the Chicago bluesmaster has been nominated for Grammys 14 times.  He won his first award in 1991.  He won his 8th Grammy last month for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 62nd Grammy Awards celebration in Los Angeles for his 2018 release, The Blues Is Alive And Well. 

At age 82, Buddy Guy is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago’s fabled West Side sound, and a living link to the city’s halcyon days of electric blues. In addition to his 8 Grammy Awards, Guy has also earned a 2015 Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, 37 Blues Music Awards (the most any artist has received), the Billboard Magazine Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him#23 in its "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."

Congratulations to the ‘Bluesmaster,’ Mr. Buddy Guy!

Partner Profile: Chicago’s Berghoff Restaurant

Quality and longevity are but two of the reasons Chicago’s Berghoff restaurant has been a city fixture since the 1890s. Still going strong in 2019, the Berghoff recently added craft brewing to its list of offerings.

Cultural Tourism

Water Tower Arts District

Chicago’s Oldest New Arts District

Historic Water Tower

Fifteen of Chicago’s renowned cultural organizations, all located within walking distance of the historic Chicago Water Tower on Michigan Avenue, have come together to form a unique cultural coalition in an area that is re-emerging from its roots as a thriving arts center. The District welcomes all Chicagoans and visitors to enjoy diverse programming in architecture, art, dance, design, film, history, literature, music, performance, and theatre. People know the magnificent Mile area as a shopping and dining destination, but it is also and area of outstanding cultural vitality that offers a compelling visitor experience that combines the local with the global.

To learn more about the Water Tower Arts District and its members visit

Meetings and Conventions/Sales

Taking It On The Road

The Choose Chicago and McCormick Place Sales Teams kicked off a series of Road Shows starting with San Francisco on February 7.  Continuing with Austin on February 19, Dallas – February 20, Chicago - February 28 and concluded with Washington DC on March 5.  Our purpose is not only to visit with potential clients to update them on what’s happening in our hometown, but also to re-familiarize those who have not been to Chicago in several years.  We look forward to welcoming them to Chicago in the very near future!

Sarah Grueneberg
Sarah Grueneberg

Included in these events were lively, interactive demos in a special culinary and mixology experience with Top Chef Season 9 contender, Sarah Grueneberg, Executive Chef and owner at Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio, and winner of the 2017 Best Chefs in the Great Lakes at the James Beard Foundation Awards. She was joined by Jarmel Doss, Assistant Bar Director of The Aviary and winner of the first Chicago STARS Mixology competition. We are thrilled to have had the following Choose Chicago partners participate this year:

Jarmel Doss
Jarmel Doss
  • Blue Plate
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Convene
  • Embassy Suites and Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown
  • Fairmont Chicago
  • Hiltons of Chicago
  • Hyatt Regency Chicago
  • Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
  • Marriott Marquis Chicago
  • Marriotts of Chicago
  • Sheraton Grand Chicago
  • Swissotel Chicago

Chicago Sports Commission

Chicago, USA to host 2019 Men’s VNL Finals

2019 Men's VNL Final

Lausanne, Switzerland, March 12, 2019 – The city of Chicago will welcome the 2019 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League Finals on July 10-14, when the top five teams from the competition’s Preliminary Round will join hosts the United States to play for a chance to lift the trophy at the second edition of the international federation’s flagship annual competition.

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A popular city for major sports events, Chicago will set the scene for what promises to be a truly spectacular tournament featuring the best teams in the world. Played over five days and organized in collaboration with the Chicago Sports Commission, the City of Chicago and USA Volleyball, the VNL Finals will be held at the 10,000-capacity Credit Union 1 Arena at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Home to top teams from all the U.S. professional sports leagues, Chicago will be the focus of the volleyball world when the FIVB’s most prestigious annual tournament joins a long list of high-profile sports events held in the American city. The world’s elite men’s volleyball teams will face off in the 2019 VNL Finals in Chicago in what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the competition.

FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° said: “After a highly successful inaugural edition of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in 2018, Chicago will provide an ideal setting for the Men’s Finals in 2019. Fan experience, engagement and entertainment are at the heart of the FIVB’s vision for the competition and I am sure the VNL Finals will be an exciting new highlight in the city’s busy sports calendar, providing a great show for volleyball and sports fans in the United States and around the world.”

USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis said: “USA Volleyball is excited to be partnering with the FIVB and the Chicago Sports Commission to bring the VNL Finals to Chicago. This will mark the first time this event has been held in North America and we look forward to hosting and having Team USA play head-on-head in the Windy City against the world’s toughest competitors.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: “Chicago looks forward to welcoming some of volleyball’s greatest players and fans to the best sports city in America,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

The FIVB Volleyball Nations League is the international federation’s top annual volleyball competition and features 16 national teams per gender. Starting on May 21 for the women and May 31 for the men, the 2019 VNL retains a similar calendar to last year, with men playing over the weekends and women during the week in pools of four teams each until each team has played against every other in a single round-robin tournament. The top five teams at the end of the Preliminary Round join the hosts of the Finals to fight for the ultimate prize.

The inaugural edition of the Volleyball Nations League in 2018 saw Russia defeat Men’s Finals hosts France to claim gold. The U.S. outplayed South American giants Brazil for bronze. In the 2018 Women’s Finals, the United States were victorious against Turkey to earn gold and China defeated Brazil to win bronze. This year’s Women’s VNL Finals will again take place in China on July 3-7 at a venue to be confirmed.

Media Relations


Choose Chicago’s Media Relations team has hosted 15 members of the media thus far this year on group press tours and individual media visits to Chicago (January – February 2019).  The media coverage generated in February 2019 resulted in approximately $2 million in media value. A sampling of stories published in February 2019 included:


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