With more than 2.8 million people living in Chicago, it’s the third largest city in the U.S. Although Chicago has an informal reputation as the capital of the Midwest, Chicago is also one of the leading business destinations for meetings, conventions and events, and recognized internationally. More than 3 million people live in Chicago, which is known for its architecture, love of food, and Lake Michigan skyline.
Chicago is also on the short list of cities being considered for the 2016 Olympics.
Although more than 30 million visitors arrive in Chicago for leisure travel, Chicago is focused on delivering excellent service for business events. In fact, revenues from business meetings and events is more than 2.5 times that of the leisure market in 2007, according to statistics from the Chicago Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Two factors contribute to this. First, Chicago hotels and venues recognize the value and importance of business travel, conventions and events and cater to this market. Second, location, location, location.
Chicago is centrally located within the U.S., and this makes it convenient for direct flights and access for attendees from all directions. And given the volume of travel that goes through Chicago’s airports, it’s not surprising that this is one of the busiest airports in the world: more than 917,000 air carrier flights operated in 2007, and passenger volume exceeded 77.5 million in 2007. This, according to data from The Chicago Airport System.
With its central location, Chicago is a popular business city for mid-sized conferences and large-scale conventions/congresses. Chicago also offers hundreds of options for hosting smaller gatherings and intimate occasions for its 12.31 million business travelers.
Unique venues for special events and meetings options include sports venues, outdoor garden/park, private clubs, restaurants, theaters, museums and zoos, as well as chartered boats and cruises on the lake.
Many venues are found in the downtown area, and popular neighborhoods for business events, shopping and activities can be found in the Loop, River North, Streeterville and Gold Coast neighborhoods.
Although hotel occupancy rates average nearly 70% in Chicago, overnight stays increase between June to October when occupancy rates average just above 85% (summer is the most popular time when visitors arrive in Chicago). It’s also important to note that more than 2,800 new and varied rooms will be added by the end of 2009, according to Choose Chicago. The Chicago metropolitan area has more than 100,000 rooms. This makes conventions in Chicago appealing.
McCormick Place is the most popular location to host large conventions and mega trade shows. But it’s worth noting that many organizations also choose to hold conventions, trade shows, large conferences and other events at Navy Pier, Hilton Chicago, Hyatt Regency Chicago and Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, as well as other large hotels.
2007 Chicago Statistics
- Domestic Travel Volume: 45.15 million
- Domestic Leisure Travel Volume: 32.84 million (72.7%)
- Domestic Business Travel Volume: 12.31 million (27.3%)
- Estimated Domestic Group Meeting Travelers: 6.96 million*
- Overseas Travel Volume: 1.15 million
- Direct Domestic Spending: 9.743 billion (2006)
- Spending by Domestic Business Traveler: $5.8 billion
- Spending by Leisure Traveler: $2.2 billion
- Direct International Spending: 1.167 billion (2006)
- Total Chicago Hotels (city center): 84
- Total Chicago Hotel Rooms (city center): 30,547
* Does not reflect 5.3 million day trip travelers.
McCormick Place Chicago Highlights (Convention Center)*
- Comprised of four buildings.
- 2.7 million square feet of exhibit space
- 1.2 million square feet on one level (nation’s largest convention center)
- Total Trade Shows and Conventions: 41
- Trade Shows and Conventions Delegates: 812,337
- Total Meetings: 57
- Meeting Delegates: 84,215
- Total Public Events: 14
- Public Events Attendance: 1,373,999
* McCormick Place 2007 data unless otherwise noted; does not reflect total number of events held at McCormick Place.
- Museums (more than 40)
- Theater (more than 500 productions annually)
- Shopping (check out The Magnificent Mile)
- Sports (baseball, basketball and football are most popular)
- Millennium Park
- Navy Pier (check out Riva)
- John Hancock Observatory (check out the Signature Room)
- Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago Weather (average high/low)*
- January: 32F / 18F
- February: 38F / 24F
- March: 47F / 32 F
- April: 59F / 42F
- May: 70F / 51F
- June: 80F / 61F
- July: 84F / 66F
- August: 83F / 65F
- September: 76F / 57F
- October: 64F / 46Ful
- November: 49F / 35F
- December: 37F / 24F