The Destination

 Choose Chicago September 2018 

A note from David Whitaker, President & CEO

Hello Everyone,

A few days ago, Choose Chicago hosted one of the semi-annual Partner Updates. We were delighted to host several hundred of our partners. First and foremost, a huge “Thank You” to our gracious hosts – The Dalcy Event Hall in Fulton Market and their General Manager Maureen Larson. For many partner representatives it was their first time to the venue and it is another great example of the phenomenal growth of the West Loop.

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At the briefing, several members of the Choose Chicago team were able to update our partners in attendance on a variety of sales, marketing, global trade and media relations/promotions initiatives and results. I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you one chart and data set in particular, as we just completed an update of visitor performance and profiles now through the first six months of 2017. This data is compiled by our Senior Research and Analysis Director, David Czechowski, and the national research firm DK Shifflet, which works with destinations all over the US.

As the chart below reflects, overall visitor arrivals to Chicago increased 4.4% in the first half of the year. This a bit of an improvement on the pace set last year at this time (last year’s increase was 3.9% through six months). What is encouraging is the results that show “Overnight Visitors” increasing significantly – up 6% for the first half of 2018 - almost double the growth generated over the same period in 2017. While overnight visitors represent roughly 56% of all visitors to Chicago (there is of course a large audience who come in town for the day either for business or to attend one of the many large annual trade and consumer shows we help host), a major focus for obvious reasons is targeting and marketing to visitors who stay overnight (again either as leisure travelers or convention delegates). We will continue to monitor this as we complete the year, but again an encouraging sign as we all work together to impact and sustain our vitally important visitor industry.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation of our Choose Chicago team.

– David Whitaker

By the Numbers

Domestic Visitor Growth

January - June 2017/2018

By the Numbers


Welcome to Our New Choose Chicago Partners!

  • All American Limousine
  • Athenaeum Theatre
  • Babes With Blades Theatre Company
  • Barton Event Management
  • Beverly Theatre Guild
  • Brand Action Media
  • Brindille
  • Broken Nose Theatre
  • Chicago Duty Free by Dufry
  • Fellowship Fleet Limousine and Bus Company
  • Hell in a Handbag Productions
  • Hotel Julian Chicago
  • Land & Lake Kitchen
  • MP Management
  • National Museum of Gospel Music
  • The Factory Theater
  • The Purple Pig
  • Two Lights Seafood & Oyster
  • Walton Street Kitchen + Bar

Get Ready for Chicago Restaurant Week 2019, Jan 25-Feb 7


Choose Chicago dining partners have the opportunity to participate in one of the most highly anticipated culinary events of the year. Last year’s record-breaking Restaurant Week featured 365 restaurants, serving 639,600+ diners and generating over $29M in direct spending at Chicago area restaurants during a traditionally slow time of year.

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New This Year – Menu Price Increase:
To help maximize ROI for our dining partners, while keeping prices attractive for consumers, we are implementing the following menu price increases:

Lunch/Brunch - $24 per person (from $22)
Dinner - $36 and/or $48 per person (from $33 and/or $44)

These prices exclude tax, tip and beverages.

Mark Your Calendars
September 7, 2018- Registration opens -- you will receive an email with details and a link to register
October 31, 2018 - Deadline to purchase participation and complete registration
November 30, 2018 - Deadline to upload menu(s) & submit required dining certificate/gift card
If you have questions please contact us at
We look forward to your participation.

A History of History at the Field Museum

For more than a century, Chicago’s Field Museum has been teaching us about the evolution of the natural world and our cultural history. As the institution celebrates its 125th anniversary, its mission has never been clearer - or more relevant.

Client Services

ASAE in Chicago

The nation’s second largest market for associations welcomed the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Annual Meeting & Exposition to Chicago last month, setting a membership attendance record in the process.

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Preliminary attendance figures from the ASAE conference indicate the gathering drew 6,068 people, topping the group’s previous 2007 record of 5,972 (also held in Chicago).

ASAE, a membership-based organization of more than 42,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,300 organizations that plan more than 375,000 meetings, exhibitions and seminars annually, typically brings almost $20M in revenue to its host cities. ASAE says about 20 percent of attending association professionals will book Chicago for a meeting in the next 5-10 years. Having the members experience Chicago firsthand is critically important, explained Choose Chicago President and CEO David Whitaker. “ASAE is one of our most important partners,” he said.

ASAE members manage leading trade associations, individual membership societies, and voluntary organizations across the United States and in nearly 50 countries around the world. 

“Chicago’s concentration of associations and professional societies made a strong case for locating our annual meeting,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “We set attendance records when we were last here in 2007. Since then, the changes to McCormick Square have added to Chicago’s overall appeal as a meeting destination.” 

ASAE donations also benefited the Greater Chicago Food Depository as well as Little Brothers: friends of the Elderly. GES, the global experiential event management firm, donated $5,000 to the community efforts on behalf of the attendees, and ASAE added nearly another $5,000.

With support of the ASAE Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge, and future-oriented research for the association and non-profit profession, and provides resources, education, ideas, and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community.

The 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exhibition was supported by Host City sponsors: Chicago Department of Aviation, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, McCormick Place and SMG, Catalyst Exhibits, Navy Pier, Navy Pier Catering, Kushner & Associates, American Airlines, Freeman, Frost Chicago, Kuoni Destination Management, Wintrust Arena, Courtney White Event Production and Creative Republic, Hiltons of Chicago, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Marriott International and SAVOR Chicago.

ASAE Greater Chicago Food Depository Food Drive and Canned Wall Activation

ASAE conference participants joined volunteers from Smith-Bucklin, Freeman, Young Architects of America and Choose Chicago to build a wall of donated canned goods for display during the ASAE meeting. As the accompanying time lapse video shows, the wall of donated cans was no small undertaking, amounting to almost 7,000 lbs. of food. According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, once dismantled, the wall of canned goods translated into 8,693 meals for the needy.

IMTS Update


The 32nd edition of the International Manufacturing Technology Show, the premier manufacturing technology show in North America, met September 10-September 15 at McCormick Place. This year’s IMTS expected more than 125,000 people, hosting a record number of exhibiting companies, including 20,000 students, with 2,500 exhibiting companies. IMTS is held every even-numbered year in Chicago and attracts buyers and sellers from 117 countries.

International Greeter Day

Third Annual Celebration of Volunteer Touring

Greeter Day

Earlier this month, Chicago and the world celebrated the art of the greeting. Volunteers from Chicago’s Greeter Program, together with their counterparts in cities in 37 countries, celebrated International Greeter Day on September 8, 2018.

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Chicago is one of more than 150 cities worldwide that make up the Global Greeter Network. It began in New York in 1992 as a way for communities to take a more intimate and personal approach to showcasing themselves. Since then, every day, around the world, more than 3,000 private citizens volunteer their time to show tourists what makes the city they are visiting special.

Chicago’s Greeter Program began in 2002.

“Last year, Chicago’s 200 Greeter volunteers escorted about 10,000 visitors around city neighborhoods,” says Katie Law, Choose Chicago’s Greeter Program manager. “This year we celebrated our third annual International Greeter Day. The day has grown in Chicago, with the number of participants doubling since 2016. It continues to be a great way for visitors as well as local to explore the downtown and the neighborhoods.”

The city’s Greeters gathered at Chicago’s Millennium Park to offer special tours of unique sites in four Chicago neighborhoods as well as the Loop:

  • Chinatown’s Ping Tom Park
  • The Humboldt Park Boat House
  • The Chicago Riverwalk
  • The Loop and Millennium Park
  • The mosaics of Pilsen
  • The Caldwell Lily Pond in Lincoln Park

The Second Annual Chicago International Latino Theater Festival

The Chicago International Latino Theater Festival believes in the power of theater to amplify first-voice Latino artists and to create a cross-cultural experience. The Festival starts September 20 through November 4.

For more information, haga clic aquí

World Music Festival Chicago

The 20th Annual World Music Festival Chicago, September 7-23

The Chinese Mongolia Band

Choose Chicago, with the Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, presented the Chinese Mongolia Band for two concerts during the Festival through Choose Chicago’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Culture & Tourism for the People’s Republic of China. Choose Chicago signed its historic MOU with the Ministry of Culture & Tourism in 2015 with the goal of promoting tourism and developing strategic cultural bridges to increase visitation and awareness of China and Chicago’s cultural assets.

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The Chinese Mongolia Band

The Chinese Mongolia Band performed two free concerts, September 13 at the Chicago Cultural Center and September 14 at Ping Tom Memorial Park. The Chinese Mongolia Band brings the soul of the grassland, wild and free, and deep and tender through their powerful singing and traditional instruments. Check out the full lineup of free concerts for World Music Festival Chicago at

The Chinese Mongolian Band

The festival finale is on Sunday, September 23 where World Music Festival meets the World Dumpling Fest at Navy Pier. The event will deliver performances by a number of international bands starting at 1 until 7:30 p.m. as part of a special collaboration with Navy Pier, Chicago Cultural Alliance and DCASE. The World Dumpling Festival at Polk Bros Park will feature dumplings of the world from 10 neighborhood ethnic restaurants, cultural artists and family activities. This event is free to the public, for complete details visit Chicago Cultural Alliance.

Meetings & Conventions/Sales

ASAE 2018 - A Record-Breaking Success

Thank you to our ASAE Local Host Committee and our Co-Presenting sponsors, Chicago Department of Aviation, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, McCormick Place and SMG and our many other host city sponsors. You each helped Chicago shine and we could not have done it without your support. Orchestrating the ASAE Annual Meeting was no small feat and we would be remiss if we didn’t say a “special thank you” to Lori Adlesick, Choose Chicago Vice President of Special Events, for her creativity, tireless planning and leadership!

In addition, ASAE raised a total of $71,000 in donations for our local charities, the Chicago Food Depository and Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly. Thank you to everyone who contributed monetarily and with cans of food. Your generosity will make a difference in the lives of others.

As we all heard at the Closing General Session, let us all focus on making this a better world to live.

Global Development

Jarmel Doss
Brand USA Japan Sales Mission.

The Global Development team traveled to Tokyo for Brand USA’s Japan Sales Mission, to educate Japanese Travel Trade Professionals about Chicago as a destination for their clients. The mission included 20 B2B appointments, a destination-training seminar for 40 agents, VIP dinner for 30 key clients, and a media reception.

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Maximizing our time in Japan, the team also conducted sales calls to GTA, United Airlines, JATA, JTB WV, American Airlines, World Air Service, ANA Sales, and Tabikobo.

Jarmel Doss
Brand USA South Korea Sales Mission.

Following our Sales Mission in Japan, the team traveled to Seoul for Brand USA’s South Korea Sales Mission. This marks our second year attending this mission in a new market for Chicago. The mission included 26 B2B appointments & a Gala Dinner, featuring two Chicago giveaway packages. We were pleased in the level of interest in Chicago, especially with the recent addition of the daily Asiana Airlines flight. In 2017, Korea Tourism Organization found 26 million trips abroad, out of a 51 million population. This represents a lot of potential for Chicago for in-bound travel from the Korean market.

It is important for Chicago to have an international presence and build relationships with key decision makers. To better educate this new market on all Chicago has to offer as a leisure destination, Choose Chicago conducted five Sales Calls to United Airlines, Korean Air, Mode Tour, Hana Tour, & Dongbu Tour. Additionally, Choose Chicago & Asiana Airlines hosted a destination training and luncheon for 22 attendees from Asiana Airlines and key Travel Agents. These trainings help Travel Agents become more familiar with all Chicago has to offer and equip them with the resources to better carry our product and promote tourism to the city.

In both Japan & South Korea, we sponsored a Chicago lucky draw package. Thank you to our generous Chicago partners that contributed to these sales missions:

Conrad Chicago Hotel, Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza River North Hotel, The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, The Langham Chicago, Omni Chicago Hotel, Virgin Hotels Chicago, Waldorf Astoria, Chicago Trolley & Double Decker, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Macy’s, Odyssey Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing, & The Shops at North Bridge.

If you are interested in joining the Global Development team for a Sales Mission, or sponsoring a prize package, please reach out to:

Media Relations


Choose Chicago’s Media Relations team hosted more than 45 members of the media on individual media visits and group press tours to Chicago in July 2018. The team traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil and hosted a Fourth of July Media Reception at Goose Island Brew House on July 4th, 2018.

The media coverage generated this month resulted in approximately $3.2 million in media value. A sampling of stories published in July 2018 include:


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

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