Chicago is the absolute perfect location for trade shows and live events. While TagPrints may be slightly bias since our main office is located in the heart of the city, I’m sure many others would agree with us that Chicago holds the unofficial title of being the #1 trade show city. Chicago trade shows are unlike any other – both business and entertainment requirements are easily met. Here, I have created a list of the 5 reasons why Chicago rises above the rest when hosting a large event.
1. The One and Only, McCormick Place
McCormick Place has been dubbed the largest convention center in North America, and it is easy to see why. McCormick Place easily accommodates 3 million visitors each year through events such as The Chicago Auto Show each February, the International Home and Housewares Show each March, and the National Restaurant Association’s Annual Show each May. It contains 2.6 million square feet of exhibit halls, 170 meeting rooms, 600,000 square feet of meeting room space, 6 ballrooms, 2 of which are the largest in the city, assembly seating for 18,000 (yes, there’s more…keep reading), a 4,249 seat theater, ceiling heights up to 50 feet, and an easy to access parking garage with 5,800 parking spaces. McCormick place is every trade show planner’s dream, and one of the many reasons why Chicago is the best city for events.
TagPrints was just recently at McCormick Place with CDW Healthcare. CDW utilized our trade show photo booth in order to draw in the many visitors in attendance at HIMSS 2015. By allowing attendees to take photos in the open air photo booth and walk away with a printed, branded version of the photo, CDW increased their engagement and had a great incentive to drive people to their booth (we had fun with CDW at VMWorld too!). As you may have noticed, McCormick is one large convention center, so having a unique activity available is crucial to capturing the attention of attendees.
2. Public Transportation
Chicago isn’t a small city, which is why it’s so important to have efficient transportation for the millions of business professionals traveling to the city each year who are trying to get to their shows on time. Whether you are willing to spend the cash for a cab from your hotel, or looking to be more cost effective and hop on public transportation, Chicago will offer the right avenue for you.
Taxis are available by the hundreds and many hotels have valets that are willing to hail them for you. For the more modern business traveler, Uber drivers are also in abundance here. Whichever way you decide to grab a cab, Chicago will make sure that it is available for you whenever, and wherever, you may need it.
Chicago’s CTA train system, known to native Chicagoans and frequent visitors alike as the “L,” is relatively simple to use and comes at a convenient cost (by the way – the “L” came from shortening the word “elevated”). It may seem intimidating at first, but you quickly become accustomed to terms like “Towards the Loop,” “95th/Dan Ryan,” and all the various line colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, and brown. Buses are also frequent and quickly run throughout the city. So, whatever transportation you prefer, Chicago will make sure you are not late for that early morning trade show registration.
3. Work Hard, Play Harder
Trade shows and conventions are work obligations, but we all know you should take the opportunity to explore the city you are visiting while you have the chance and – yep, you guessed it – Chicago has all the entertainment you’ll need.
In this section, I could go on forever about all the different ways you can “play harder” in Chicago, but let me make it easy and put it into a quick and simple list:
- Broadway Theatres and Plays
- Department Stores and Designer Boutiques for shopping
- Hundreds of top-of-the-line bars & night clubs
- Museums (like the Field Museum) & Aquariums (The Shedd)
- Observation Deck located at the top of the Sears Tower (or the Willis Tower depending on if you’re a first time Chicago visitor)
- Beaches, located right on Lake Michigan
- & more!
Whether you want to relax during your break from the trade show, or explore the city around you, Chicago offers numerous options for you to unwind during your stay in the city.
4. Prime Real Estate
Chicago truly is the heart of the country. It’s right in the middle of the USA and an easy city to get to whether you are from the East coast, West coast, or an international traveler! It has two large airports, most notably O’Hare International Airport. In 2015, O’Hare reclaimed its title of the busiest airport in the world by the number of takeoffs and landings – a title it battles for every year with Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Until 1998, O’Hare was also the busiest airport in the world in number of passengers, a title it lost due to various limits imposed by the government. Regardless, O’Hare is smack-dab in the middle of the country, and therefore, is easily accessible no matter where in the world you are traveling from.
5. Deep Dish Pizza & Chicago Style Hot Dogs
Everyone has to eat, especially when you’re in town for a trade show or convention – where you stay on your feet for hours at a time. You have to keep your energy up! And Chicago is the perfect place to take a meal-break and explore. Chicago, in my opinion at least, doesn’t get enough credit for its cuisine. However, Chicago is an awesome place to enjoy any type of food, even if you’re on a budget.
If you’re looking to enjoy the Chicago classics, you cannot go wrong with a good slice of deep-dish pizza or even a Chicago style hot dog (NO KETCHUP!). Both of these options are available at numerous locations around the city, and if you haven’t tried either, please do.
However, if you’re looking for something a little more high-end or diverse, feel free to check out Chicago’s four-star French restaurants, or even the world-famous Alinea, one of only two restaurants in Chicago to receive the highest rating of three stars from the notorious Michelin Guide. Chicago also offers restaurants with cuisine like Indian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, top-of-the-line steak houses and much more.
By now, it is clear to see why Chicago is the best city for trade shows. Business professionals are accommodated in every way possible when they come to this beautiful city. Convention centers are available for the work portion of the trip, while the city offers various options for when you need a break. Be sure to explore the city next time you’re in town!