8 months ago



LETTER FROM THE CHAIR & CEO DEAR PARTNERS, On behalf of Choose Chicago, we want to thank you for your guidance, support, and commitment to growing our visitor industry. In collaboration with you, Choose Chicago surpassed its goal of bringing 55 million visitors to Chicago. We are extremely pleased to share our 2017 Annual Report. The year welcomed a projected 55.2 million visitors, an increase of 2.5 percent, surpassing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s goal. This growth resulted in an increase in overall hotel demand of 3.3 percent, fueled in part by a 6.2 percent jump in leisure hotel guests and record attendance at over half of our 40 largest conventions. Together, Choose Chicago and our partners secured commitments from 61 future citywide conventions, representing over 1.6 million room nights and over 2,400 in-house meetings, which is projected to generate 2.6 million room nights. We implemented two key strategies: target and secure “short term” meetings and events to convene in the next three years (2017-2019); and capture new and incremental meetings to supplement our largest legacy and rotational customers. Of the bids won, 33 percent were booked for the targeted 36-month window, 23 percent will convene here for the first time, and 13 percent had not met here in the past 10 years. A key priority is booking for 2019 and over 260,000 room nights have been secured so far. A new consumer advertising campaign, Welcome Home, was launched in May to attract more regional, domestic, and international visitors. The campaign capitalizes on the sense that Chicago feels like home to visitors with its authentic hospitality and diverse experiences. We used integrated marketing efforts to build upon key visitor experiences and platforms, including Food & Culinary, Theatre, Culture & Entertainment, Music, Attractions, Art & Architecture, the LGBTQ+ Community, and Sports & Urban Recreation. In addition, we launched the Welcome Home campaign in nine key international markets. By targeting 14.6 million households in the U.S. alone, we’ve seen growth in unique visitors to our website, including a 21 percent spike from regional visitors and a 20.8 percent increase in visitors from major US urban centers. Since the launch of our new international campaign in the fall, there was a 114 percent jump in site visits representing increased awareness and potential growth in these visitors. In December, Expedia named Chicago to its list of “Most Searched for Cities in America.” We will continue these efforts this year. To further support this expanded domestic and global outreach, media relations initiatives were significantly expanded and integrated with social marketing efforts, helping to generate more than 3,400 published articles and broadcasts with a combined circulation of over 6 billion. Fueled in large part by hosting 368 8 / 2017 ANNUAL REPORT

media visits, these articles and features represented an earned media value of over $37 million. Our trade development efforts were also expanded internationally this year, creating more cooperative programs with partners to elevate our awareness and product offerings in 11 key markets. This included delivering Chicago’s message at 12 international trade shows and co-hosting 28 familiarization tours of Chicago from these key international markets. Our Chicago Sports Commission boasted another banner year, hosting major events that attracted more visitors and destination buzz. This propelled our ascension as a major sports capital, including the NCAA Men’s Hockey Frozen Four Championships, the NHL Draft, and the Major League Soccer All Star Game. The commission won key bids for future highprofile games, such as the 2018 Laver Cup (a global international tennis tournament), the 2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Regional Tournament, and the 2020 NBA All Star Game. While we celebrate these accomplishments, we also know we must continue to evolve and rise above industry challenges while expanding our footprint around the world. Growing investor confidence in Chicago has led to an unprecedented growth in hotel supply in the past several years. To support this growth, we will continue to target new and different categories of domestic and international visitors, meetings, and events. Thank you to our Board of Directors and our many partners who share in this mission including over 1,500 association members. We look forward to collaborating with you to inspire more customers to “Choose Chicago.” Speaking of buzz, in 2017 Conde Nast Traveler readers named Chicago the “Best Big City in the U.S.” and Bon Appétit touted us as the “Restaurant City of the Year.” Chicago again had the honor of hosting the prestigious James Beard Awards for the third consecutive year and secured a commitment to host the awards for the next four years. DESIREE ROGERS BOARD CHAIR, CHOOSE CHICAGO DAVID WHITAKER PRESIDENT & CEO, CHOOSE CHICAGO CHOOSE CHICAGO / 9