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.

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.

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. 


Destination ENV sponsors 2019 Experience Lab

Gadgets lose their luster. A trip can get lost in the day-to-day. But an experience? That can last a lifetime. For destination marketers, one of the greatest challenges they face is having to market a product they don’t control. From initial inspiration to post-visit advocacy, there are endless variables that impact the entire visitor engagement. However, by investing in experience development, not only does that give destination marketers a measure of control, but it creates a currency for your destination that your visitors can trade on time and again, and even at a multiple.

As a marketer and entrepreneur, I’m always looking for the ROI, and for Joe Veneto, experiences are where the money is at for destinations. Heck, they don’t call it “The Experience Economy” for nothing.

As the head of the Veneto Collaboratory, Joe has spent the last 30 years working across the tourism landscape, helping destinations and their partners realize the untapped potential of their visitor experience. And last month, Destination ENV proudly sponsored his 2019 Experience Lab.

With Madison, WI as a backdrop, marketers and experience managers from over 30 CVBs and DMOs gathered to workshop with Joe and immerse themselves in the various programs he developed with the Destination Madison team.

Choose Chicago partners with Destination ENV to reimagine website experience

CHICAGO, IL /PRNewswire/ — Destination ENV, a full-service digital marketing agency announced the re-platforming and redesign of, the website of Chicago’s official destination marketing organization. In partnership with Choose Chicago’s marketing department, executive leadership, and external partners, Destination ENV planned, developed, and executed a best-in-class digital destination to attract leisure and business travelers to the city, while helping the organization navigate long-standing roadblocks around accessibility, integration, and scalability.

The Choose Chicago website was migrated from a licensed content management system to an open source enterprise solution that offered greater agility with content management for internal team members, better integration for a myriad of external partners, and overall innovation as the organization’s needs for the website expand over time.

“Choose Chicago challenged us to use the latest advances in technology to provide a seamless consumer digital journey and an experience that allowed for greater control and flexibility, and expanded their ability to achieve more with the resources they have. This was the mantra that drove the entire redesign,” said David Silverstein, Destination ENV’s Chief Solutions Officer.

As this enterprise solution created greater flexibility for Choose Chicago’s internal team and partners, Destination ENV’s creative and UX experts worked to develop a more immersive experience for prospective visitors. The redesign dynamically and purposefully builds upon relevant information during the user’s journey through the site. At the center are rich stories and editorial style POVs reinforced by featured partners, events, and neighborhood content. This approach ultimately brings the information to users at the high point of their interest, as opposed to forcing them to dig through layers of information to find it.

This re-platforming initiative marks another milestone in the agency’s three-year relationship with Choose Chicago, while also representing a pivotal moment for Destination ENV. Destination marketers will continue to see the capabilities and intellectual property of the agency come to market as they meet the challenges of today’s DMOs.

Photo Credit: Adam Alexander Photography

5 key elements of a mobile-first website

With all the talk surrounding the need for great mobile experiences today, it’s pretty interesting that the execution of mobile-first practices still isn’t always done well, even by larger brands and organizations. A large part of this may be due to a misperception that responsive websites and mobile-first websites are one and the same. The reality is that being responsive isn’t enough to compete effectively in today’s search landscape. Perhaps more importantly, being responsive doesn’t mean you’re providing the best mobile experience. Why? Because responsive sites are built around a desktop experience first and then made to work on mobile devices. What often results is a website that, while “responsive,” isn’t meeting the needs of mobile visitors which means wasted opportunity, time, and well…money.

A couple of posts ago, we mentioned how Google’s roll-out of the Mobile First Index is (or should be) completely challenging how webmasters, creatives, UX specialists, technologists, and SEOs approach developing mobile experiences. And each one of these roles brings its own set of requirements for a web build. At Destination ENV, our website development process allows for these parties to have an equal voice to discuss the pros and cons of decisions ahead of development to ensure we’re considering multiple points of view, and ultimately, are landing on outcomes that promote the highest degree of mobile usability and adherence to search engine standards.

While a mobile-first approach should be employed for any website, it’s absolutely vital to the success of a DMO’s website as metrics such as visits, time on site, and actions taken are initial indicators of success.

So what exactly makes up a mobile-first approach to website development and how do you know if your destination’s website is truly mobile friendly? Here’s 5 major things to measure your current website against: