Regional DMO partners rally, welcome back summer leisure travel to Chicagoland

Strength in numbers

A defining characteristic of promoting broad regional markets can be found in the symbiotic relationship between the urban center and its surrounding communities. Cosmopolitan diversity, quaint villages, outdoor adventure…no matter the initial draw, opportunities to extend a trip for broader exploration abound. Neighboring communities are often home to attractions attributed to the large city they are linked to. Working together to acknowledge the draw of the major urban center while also recognizing the added value of the entire area’s offerings leads to mutual success for all. Rising tide, if you will. 

For the DMOs comprising greater metropolitan Chicago, embracing this dynamic has never been more important.

The headwinds of our post-pandemic reality are felt across all of our industry’s stakeholders. With protocols varying by state, region, and city, supporting member’s safety messaging while responsibly informing consumers has increased the burden on DMOs already feeling the impact of constrained resources. 

With a tradition of partnership across the region, the greater Chicagoland collective see an opportunity to pool capability and resources to tackle these challenges together. As vaccinations increase, and core attractions begin to come online, inspiring drive markets to once again imagine the opportunities available to them is a must. 

However, co-branded messaging for “Visit Chicagoland” needed to be evolved to address today’s reality. Collaborating with our client Choose Chicago and 8 regional DMOs, the agency worked to quickly bring a campaign to life that reintroduced a safe, welcoming, inclusive region that is open for business.


How to let travelers know your destination is reopening responsibly

As the vaccine rollout continues and the end of the pandemic starts to feel like it’s within reach, destinations around the world are cautiously rolling back restrictions and getting ready to welcome visitors back. And travelers are eager to return. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 81% of travelers have tentative travel plans within the next six months — the highest since March 2020.

But this new era of travel is going to look a lot different than it did pre-pandemic. Today’s travelers are savvier about health and safety during every aspect of their trip, from their method of travel to choosing a destination. That means your DMO has to be actively communicating with your audience to show, not just tell, travelers what your destination is doing to keep them safe.

Dine in. Take out. It’s Chicago Restaurant Week.

It’s the best time of year for Chicago foodies! Today marks the first day of Chicago Restaurant Week, a beloved celebration of the city’s much-acclaimed dining scene. 

After a tough year for restaurants, we’re especially proud to help execute this initiative with Choose Chicago through strategy, paid media, marketing support, and the website experience to bring much-needed support to our local dining community.

The event, which includes special prix-fixe menus from almost 300 Chicago-area restaurants, runs through Sunday, April 4 — that’s more than two whole weeks of dining deals. And for the first time, Chicago Restaurant Week will offer diners more options than ever with delivery, takeout, and indoor/outdoor dining menus. 

Hungry yet? Explore participating restaurants and make your reservations today!

Chicago voted “Best Big City” 4th year running

This week, Chicago was named the Best Big City in the U.S. While we already knew that here at Envisionit, the readers of Condé Nast Traveler made it official by voting Chicago into the top spot for the fourth year in a row — the first large city to do so in the history of the awards.

More than 715,000 savvy travelers voted for their favorite destinations in the 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. Condé Nast Traveler hailed Chicago’s “impressive architecture, first-rate museums, brilliant chefs, and massive brewing scene”, not to mention our 77 unique neighborhoods, vibrant downtown, and friendly locals.

We’re thrilled to congratulate the City of Chicago and our friends at Choose Chicago on earning this prestigious recognition. The team at Envisionit is proud to work with such a dedicated and talented group, whose work continues to establish Chicago as a world-class travel destination and support the city’s tourism industry during these difficult times. 

We look forward to working together to welcome visitors back to Chicago and continue to show the world why we’re the nation’s best big city.

How DMOs can support partners during a crisis

The COVID-19 situation is wreaking havoc across a wide range of industries—but we all know that tourism and hospitality are being hit especially hard. And if your destination marketing organization is partner-based, you know that your members are feeling the effects as well.

During a crisis like this, partners will look to you for leadership and support. And it’s up to your organization to find ways to provide value and see your partners through these uncertain times. This is also an opportunity to support your tourism strategy while being mindful of local and national restrictions.

Here are four proactive ways your DMO can provide value to your partners during the current COVID pandemic.

Envisionit wins three Indigo Design Awards

We’re pleased to announce that our campaign for 21c Museum Hotels has won three Indigo Design Awards!

Our campaign, “C U SOON, CHICAGO”, was our take on contemporary art, using deconstructed 21c Museum Hotel brand elements, a motion-forward mobile-friendly paid social strategy, and an OOH approach to introduce the brand to Chicago in a way that’s as memorable and thought-provoking as the museum hotel itself.

We are so proud of all the hard work and hours that went into creating this successful and eye-catching campaign. We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the ENV superstar team that brought this masterpiece to life:

Associate Creative Director: Chris Sorto
Associate Media Director: Jenny Laverty
Account Manager: Brooke Borkowski
Copywriter: Owen O’Riordan
Motion Director: Mike Lesniak
Creative Director: Amber Davis

Our campaign C U SOON, CHICAGO takes on an even deeper meaning during these times, and even makes me a little emotional as a Chicagoan myself! Chicago’s thriving tourism scene will come back better than ever, and we can’t wait to see 21c Museum Hotels flourish when that happens.

Stay curious with 21c Museum Hotel Chicago

It’s now open in Chicago—21c Museum Hotels, a contemporary art museum with a hospitable side. At Envisionit, we’re excited to partner with this Louisville-based hotel concept for a brand awareness campaign to launch their 9th and newest property right in our backyard.

So, how does a new museum hotel stand out in a city with a world-class art scene and nearly 200 hotels? 

To connect with our social savvy, artistically minded target, we knew our campaign needed to capture attention, create curiosity and intrigue, and put the brand on display. 

In other words, be bold, artistic, and disruptive. 

Our campaign, “C U SOON, CHICAGO,” is our own take on contemporary art, using deconstructed 21c Museum Hotel brand elements, a motion-forward mobile-friendly paid social strategy, and an OOH approach with real stopping power to make the introduction of the brand as memorable and thought-provoking as the museum hotel itself.