A Positive Summer For Choose Chicago

The recovery is continuing for Chicago’s tourism and hospitality industry with Choose Chicago reporting that key performance indicators for the first half of 2021 suggest that tourism’s post-COVID recovery has positive momentum, with the city experiencing a successful summer travel season.

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said that: “Tourism and hospitality remain two of Chicago’s most critical industries, as they impact residents across every zip code and every neighbourhood.”

Mayor Lightfoot continued: “Business owners and employees within these industries have been at the frontlines of this crisis, making it all the more important that we leverage opportunities through organizations like Choose Chicago to uplift them. Thanks to this support, our tourism and hospitality communities have been able to not only remain laser-focused on ensuring a socially responsible and equitable recovery, but also generate revenue that bolsters our city’s overarching COVID-19 response.”

Key summer performance indicators include:

  • Summer (June/July/August) hotel room demand is expected to exceed 2 million room nights representing 60% of the rooms booked in summer of 2019. This yielded close to US$400 million in hotel revenue and over US$69 million in taxes to city, state, and local municipalities.
  • The inventory of rooms in the city has returned to 98% of previous peak capacity, with 43,921 daily rooms available.
  • Chicago recaptured nearly 90% of the average room rate for a typical summer in the city.
  • Summer hotel occupancy topped out at 51% with a July rate of 57.5%, the best occupancy rate since February of 2020
  • Weekend room demand was also a strong supporter of hotel performance with an average summer weekend occupancy rate of 71% and a rate of 85% on Lollapalooza weekend.
  • Choose Chicago’s ‘Seize Your Summer’ campaign generated more than US$79M in hotel revenue between May 1 and August 11. Additionally, the campaign drove 4.8 million searches for hotels and 500,000 searches for flights. Concurrently, the Expedia campaign drove more than 121,000 room nights with estimated hotel revenue of US$44 million between May 3 and August 19.
  • Based on mobile cellular data provided by Near (formerly Uber Media), more people have been going to the neighbourhoods. In the West Loop, 74% of 2019 levels have come back, while in other neighbourhoods like Lakeview and Hyde Park, we already see 2021 reaching and potentially surpassing pre-pandemic levels. This is in part thanks to the City’s Expanded Outdoor Dining program that increased the capacity of restaurants to serve outside and in the public way.
  • McCormick Place and city hotels hosted 135 meetings this summer, welcoming 479,000 attendees and generating over 92,000 room nights with an economic impact of over US$190 million.
  • Employment in the hospitality industry reached a high mark in the city of 159,589 in August 2019 and fell to a low of 74,491 in May 2020. Leisure and hospitality employment has increased 45% from May 2020 to June 2021, with steady increases in the past five months.

Glenn Eden, Chair, Choose Chicago Board of Directors, pointed out that: “Since the beginning of COVID, our priority has been to support our partners and our City in recovering while ensuring the safety and health of our visitors,” “These results are a testament to the wisdom of that strategic approach. We are thrilled to see positive trends while continuing to remain vigilant in this ever-changing environment.”

Looking ahead beyond 2021, Chicago’s tourism and convention business outlook remains cautiously optimistic:

  • The pace of Choose Chicago’s business and convention hotel room bookings (the percent of average bookings met for a given year) currently exceeds 100% of target through 2028, suggesting a strong pipeline of events looking to host their meeting in Chicago.
  • Short-term, hotel-based meetings currently on the books of Choose Chicago is encouraging yet subject to an ever-evolving environment with 380 events booked between August 2021 and December 2022. These events represent 576,000 room nights producing US$19 million in state and local hotel taxes and US$781 million of estimated economic impact for the city.
  • Major meetings at McCormick Place currently on the books of Choose Chicago between August and December 2022 suggest renewed optimism with 72 shows, attracting 1.4 million attendees representing 1.7 million room nights and generating US$56 million in state and local hotel taxes with an estimated economic impact of US$2.54 billion. Fourteen meetings will be in Chicago for the first time.

Go to www.choosechicago.com for more.