HTS Highlights: Tourism & Hospitality Forward – Major Convention Outlook

The 2020 Hospitality & Tourism Summit kicked off virtually this afternoon with the Tourism & Hospitality Forward – Major Convention Outlook panel. It included President & CEO of Choose Chicago, David Whitaker, COO Marc Anderson, and Board Chair Glenn Eden. In addition, McCormick Place General Manager & Regional Vice President, David Causton joined the conversation about what the future holds for all major conventions. 

In Chicago, McCormick Square activities directly generate employment for 14,2308 people. Furthermore, for every ten jobs attributed to McCormick square an additional five jobs are created in the state economy. In these unprecedented times, Whitacker emphasizes that McCormick Square has “never been missed more.” 

In a brighter outlook for the future, Causton explains in detail of what’s to come for McCormick Place by gaining the GBAC Certification. The key points to take away from this certification is, its commitment to assure facilities are safe and clean, retraining of staff on how to operate safely, and the commitment to continue understanding change as we learn more about the virus. Causton adds that they are focusing on “everything possible to have higher standards for the customer journey.” This includes partnering with Choose Chicago to create a virtual experience, so customers are able to see how  Chicago will be when they return. The executive summary for future plans can be found online and can be also used as a resource for businesses looking for how to operate in a pandemic. 

Chief Operating Officer Marc Anderson weighed in on the struggles due to COVID-19, and gave a “huge” applause to clients for all their immense work during 2020. Anderson continued to explain how an event in 2021 and 2022 will not be the same as it was in 2019. However, he looks forward to the normality of virtual events and how hybrid   multi-channel events will be crucial to the industry. Lastly, Anderson revealed that there are several active bids for these types of projects. 

“We want people to get back to work,” Anderson added. He is optimistic and ensures a huge amount of business is in the books from January to 2023. 

Whitaker ended the session by asking Anderson and Causton if they had any advice. They both agreed that “flexibility is the key for success.” The industry will look different as it moves forward, therefore they urge us to have the collaborative discussions to help our city. 

Written By Marla Chavez Garcia