Jumpstarting tourism in cities across the country will be more complicated than simply opening doors again – especially in cities with large populations like Chicago. However, working together proves more effective, and in Chicago, more than 250 businesses are banding together to join Choose Chicago’s new initiative, Tourism & Hospitality Forward. It bolsters a safe reopening that encourages tourism as well as meetings and events in the city.
“Our collective goal is to be an industry leader in organizing and hosting responsible meetings, and, in doing so, to be a resource for our meeting planner community,” says Glenn Eden, board chair of Choose Chicago.
Choose Chicago is working with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to work toward a safe reopening when the time comes, coupling economic recovery with local and national health and safety guidelines. As new knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic emerges every day, the initiative is committed to keeping its plans flexible.
Some of the initiative’s goals include driving local engagement, leisure travel, and the booking of meetings and events. “The procedures we put in place will in fact be a sales tool for our sales teams and partners,” Eden says.
Another part of Tourism & Hospitality Forward’s pledge is businesses working together to “create unique and novel ways to leverage all of the city’s dynamic neighborhoods and authentic assets,” by spreading the love to all corners of the city. Businesses will focus on taking a collaborative approach to encouraging tourism, as varied individual efforts will not be as effective as a united, collective effort. Cross-promotion will be important as well.
By joining the initiative, businesses have access to resources and webinars that are specific to their own reopening. For example, a webinar focused on museums and attractions had representatives from New Orleans, Berlin and Houston, “discussing their opening experiences, best practices and lessons learned.” This way, Chicago businesses can learn from others and push forward.
“In the short-term, [the initiative] is most focused on reopening and welcoming our customers and guests back fully-prepared and with their safety and confidence our number one priority... We know how important this will be for the long-term viability of Chicago as not only a preferred destination, but one of the most responsible," says Eden.