Nearly 500 people from Illinois and the greater Midwest gathered at the stunning Palmer House Hilton Feb. 26-28 for the annual Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism. During the three-day event, attendees had the chance to hear from key industry officials, including an opening keynote from Carroll Rheem, vice president of research for Brand USA; a luncheon talk on crisis management and tourism security from Dr. Peter E. Tarlow, founder and president of Tourism & More; and an address by Cory Jobe, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, at the closing breakfast. Dynamic, thought-provoking breakout sessions included topics like pitching your destination to the media, secrets to better selling and creating a video marketing strategy. On Tuesday evening, a networking after-party at the SNL Experience inside Museum of Broadcast Communications was a hit.
Dawn Young first joined Choose Chicago in June 2005 as director of association sales, and in May this year, was promoted to vice president of hotel sales. It’s a perfect example of rising up the ranks for someone who’s so passionate about moving tourism forward. Though her experience in the industry runs deep, she’s got her work cut out for her to keep the numbers growing: Chicago set a tourism record in 2017 with more than 55 million visitors. A major reason for that? “Chicago just rocks accessibility,” says Young.