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Tourism set to surge in 2015.  Is your business ready to do the same?

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by

Chicago Tourism Surge 2015
In 2014 Chicago had more tourists visit than in any previous year. While business travel continues to be cyclical, the increase in high-spending leisure and international guests helped the number of visitors reach approximately 50 million by some estimates.

Early indicators for 2015 point to an even larger increase in both domestic and international travelers.  Chicago is expecting the grand opening of five new hotel properties to the downtown area, including the newly-opened Virgin Hotel and the soon-to-open Lowes Chicago Hotel.  The addition of the new Maggie Daley Park and playing host to both the NFL Draft and James Beard Awards will drive even more visiting consumers to our city.

It is not too late to make sure your business has a plan in place to make sure your profit rises, as do the numbers of hotels and visitors. The team at Concierge Preferred has been busy helping our hospitality partners develop or refine their tourism marketing plans with the use of market research and a variety of advertising platforms to make sure active tourists know they are here to welcome them.  If you are interested in reviewing your current plan, or building a new one, with a member of our team please contact call Jim Gilligan at 312-360-1766 or e-mail at jgilligan@conciergepreferred.com.

Looking to delve deeper into the upcoming tourism surge? Check out this article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Happy Concierge Day, Chicago!

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by

IheartConcierge

Do you think your job keeps you pretty busy? Are you wiped out by the time the weekend is here each week? Try being a concierge!

The concierge who are a part of the Concierge Preferred network answer questions and complete requests from guests approximately 89,000 times in the average week. With a network of around 600 concierge contacts, that means the average concierge has to solve problems for guests nearly 150 times a week. Throw in the fact that they are usually standing, multi-tasking, and sometimes event running errands for guests, and that is the definition of a busy week. A community that works that hard deserves a big celebration.

Our team at Concierge Preferred is making sure they receive one!  By official proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the team here at Concierge Preferred is proud to announce that the City of Chicago will celebrate its fifth annual Concierge Day in Chicago on January 29, 2015.  Actually, we have been successfully working with the Mayor’s Office since 2011 requesting that the city create a day dedicated to all concierges—from residential and corporate to hotel and other types—as a way to formally pay tribute for all they do to make Chicago the world class destination it is.  Once again we will cap their day off with a big bash honoring their community at the Concierge Favorite Awards hosted by the Hard Rock Cafe.  We are excited to induct two more esteemed concierge into the Concierge Preferred Chicago Concierge Hall of Fame and honor the 2015 Jon Winke Rising Star Award Winner.

Many businesses that depend on the concierge community will be making special offers to their concierge partners either on January 29, or in some cases, that whole week.  If you are interested in showing that your business supports the concierge, feel free to give us a call for ideas and how to spread the word.  If you want to celebrate with the concierge at the Concierge Favorite Awards and have not received an invite contact us to learn how you can attend.  Call Jim Gilligan at 312-360-1766 or e-mail at jgilligan@conciergepreferred.com.

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Mayor Declares Jan. 29 ‘Concierge Day in Chicago’

Posted on January 5th, 2015 by

CONCDay_2015_FBCover

It’s Official! Chicago Once Again Celebrates ‘Concierge Day’

By official proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the team at Concierge Preferred is proud to announce that the City of Chicago will celebrate its fifth annual Concierge Day in Chicago on January 29, 2015.

View the official proclamation here

And our city’s concierges surely deserve it. Each year, they make almost five million referrals with more than 1.3 million dining recommendations, 1.1 million shopping suggestions, 658,000 nightlife referrals, and almost 1.2 million tips on cultural attractions.

Does Your Business Have a Concierge? 
We encourage you to work with your marketing and PR teams to develop creative ways to show your support for all that your concierge do for your property. Whether it’s disseminating a press release about Concierge Day in Chicago and highlighting your concierge team members and the services they provide, including information in your e-newsletter, or promoting via your social media channels – help spread the word and create awareness about all that Chicago’s concierges do to make our city and businesses great. #ConciergeDay

 

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Do Your Homework… Here’s Why:

Posted on December 16th, 2014 by

Publisher’s Note

Do your homework before executing your concierge marketing plans!

‘Tis the season where many of our clients are hard at work determining their 2015 marketing budgets and how to best design a solid marketing program with it.  For many hospitality businesses how to capture more of the attention of the concierge community is usually a big part of that plan.

One of the most popular questions we hear at Concierge Preferred is, “What do the concierge want to hear about from my business?”  “What can I offer their guests to incentive them to send me more business?”  Often businesses just keep trying different options to see if anything sticks, or have no way to track if their efforts are really bringing in ROI.  This trial by error process of finding an effective way to communicate with the concierge can be a costly strategy to any business or marketing team.

The better option is to take the guess work out of it!  Ask the concierge directly what they need to know about your business.  They work with their guests all day, every day.  These are the experts to tell you what will excite their customers so that you are a more frequent recommendation.  Polling the large concierge community is definitely an investment in time and money, but the valuable feedback you will receive might save you a ton of marketing dollars down the road.

TIP: Our team at Concierge Preferred can help make your life easier when it comes to concierge market research.  We offer a variety of concierge research services including concierge focus groups and surveys sent to every concierge in the Chicagoland area. We can even visit every concierge desk on your behalf to ask the questions for you!

Give us a call to find the right solution for your team. Our team can be reached at 312-360-1770 or by emailing me directly at jgilligan@conciergepreferred.com.

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Looking for More Business? Ask a Concierge

Posted on December 16th, 2014 by

Visitor Marketing Best Practices:

Ask the concierge and you shall receive…..more business!

Several years ago we were approached by a limousine company that wanted to begin aggressively marketing their services to the concierge community.  They had heard from other limousine providers that many concierge expected commission in exchange for booking their services. So their plan was to inform concierge they would receive a larger commission from their fleet, but in turn, the guests would not receive any type of a discounted rate. Based on the prices other car companies were offering hotel guests, that seemed to be the right strategy to implement.

We recommended they use our team to develop a focus group composed of some of Chicago’s most experienced and regarded concierges from a variety of different hotels and price ranges.  They took our advice and partnered with our Concierge Relations Team to execute a focus group.  The outcome? They were pleasantly surprised when they learned that a majority of the concierge actually did not prefer the industry standard that other car companies had created. Instead, they were more focused on being able to find a fantastic rate for their guests without trading out service or reliability.

The small investment in a concierge focus group saved this company a lot of time and money that they would have wasted if they went with their original guess.  When they began marketing their program to the hotel concierges, they saw a much greater level of success than many of their competitors who were still using a less effective pricing structure.

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It’s a Good Time to Show Concierges’ Some Love

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by

Hit the Concierge Campaign TrailIt is the heart of election season in our beautiful city, and that goes for the concierge community as well.  The Chicago Hotel Concierge Association (CHCA) recently had their Board Elections, and the National Concierge Association – Chicago Chapter (NCA) are preparing their nominations as well.

Additionally, all of the concierge are beginning to place their votes for their favorite businesses as part of the 2015 Chicago Concierge Favorites Awards.  The polls have been sent out to all of the concierge in the Chicagoland area, asking them to name their top 5 favorite restaurants, attractions/tours, nightlife and shopping destinations. Once the nominations are in, we will be announcing the winners at the 4th Annual Chicago Concierge Favorite Awards hosted by Concierge Preferred at the Hard Rock Cafe on January 29th, 2015. Which is also by official proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, once again, “Concierge Day in Chicago”.

If you have not checked in with your friends in the concierge community, now would be a great time to go say hello and make sure they have everything they need from your business.  Send out an email, give them a call, or pop in and shake few hands!  If they have not been by your location in a while invite them to stop by so they can remember what makes you great.

The polls will close before Thanksgiving, so ignore the cold this week and hit the campaign trail!

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Use the Polar Vortex to Your Advantage

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by

Winter in Chicago

Visitor Marketing Best Practices

Four years ago, our team started collecting nominations for concierges’ favorite businesses for the first-ever Chicago Concierge Favorites Awards. Our team here had so much fun watching the votes come in and learning which establishments our city’s hard-working concierges saw as the “best of the best”.  When the dust finally settled, we were pleasantly surprised by some of the results.

On Becoming a Concierge Favorite

When the list of concierges’ Top 5 Favorite Restaurants was announced there were definitely some of Chicago’s staples, as to be expected, but there was also a tiny Italian restaurant tucked away on a side street in downtown Chicago. This was not a restaurant with a giant staff or even much of a street-presence in terms of signage. In fact, with their location, there was not a ton foot traffic either.  Our mission at Concierge Preferred is to always be able to coach our clients on how they can improve their tourism and concierge marketing efforts which is why we set out to better understand what set this particular restaurant apart from the rest in concierges’ minds.

Much of the feedback was what you would hear about many of our great city’s restaurants: they had great food, a warm atmosphere, and a very friendly staff.  What put this restaurant out in front for many of the concierge, though, was the simple fact that this business stopped in at their hotels consistently to drop off food, menus, and to see if they could help with any reservations for that evening. While many restaurants do this during the busy tourism season, this spot even did it during bitter winter days when the hotels are less busy.  A few concierge even remember being checked in on when there was an actual blizzard taking place.  This dedication showed the concierge that this restaurant genuinely was committed to being their partner and built a real sense of trust.

Keep that in mind when the forecasters start talking about this year’s polar vortex and it is easy to convince yourself to stay inside.  During the summer there are a variety of businesses stopping by the concierge desks to promote their business every day.  Take advantage of Chicago’s cold streak and make sure your concierge friends know you are there to help.  Your message will stand out more, and you might even have more time to get to know each other better and further develop a relationship.

Hot tips from the Concierge Relations team at Concierge Preferred:

  • A good rule of thumb is to avoid Fridays for visiting the concierge.  Especially the Friday before a large convention.
  • If there is a convention is town of over 30,000 attendees you may want to suspend hotel visits.
  • Visits between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. seem to be the most effective.
  • Always ask the concierge if they have a minute.  If they are busy ask them when a good time to give them a call back would be or to come by for a short visit.

If you do not have the time to make consistent concierge desk visits call the team at Concierge Preferred and find out how to secure your own Concierge Ambassador.

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Tilt into a New Chicago View

Posted on March 28th, 2014 by

The construction is done, the dust has settled, and 360 Chicago (formerly the John Hancock Observatory) has created a new way to view Chicago while raising the visitors’ heart rate at the same time.

Tilt! is a new architectural achievement from Thornton Tomasetti, Cupples, Turner Special Projects, Gensler, and Montparnasse 56 Group, the owner of 360 Chicago. Visitors will be 1000 feet above Chicago’s streets when the windows, reinforced with glass and steel, will slowly tilt out giving those who dare an adventurous and new view of the city. Tilt! safely holds eight viewers at a time.

The Montparnasse 56 Group own and operate the panoramic terrace of the Montparnasse Tower in Paris, the Berlin TV Tower, and the Crocodile Zoo and Nature Preserve in the south of France. They acquired the former John Hancock Observatory in 2012 and redesigned the space attempting to give it a nature feel with blue and green hues and adding Tilt!.

Tickets to 360 Chicago are $18 and to experience Tilt! it is an extra $5. For more information visit 360Chicago.com.

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NCA – Chicago Chapter Appoints 2014 Board of Directors

Posted on February 24th, 2014 by

NCA Chicago Chapter - Concierge AssociationThe National Concierge Association – Chicago Chapter appointed its Board of Directors for 2014. An international non-profit network dedicated to supporting concierges and affiliated partners in the job of providing a high level of service across the globe, the NCA provides a support structure staffed by leading experts on concierge service.

At their January membership meeting, NCA – Chicago Chapter members voted and appointed the following individuals to serve on the Board of Directors:

Sheryl Novak, President
Sheryl is President of Concierge & Event Services Worldwide, has been President of the Chicago Chapter since 2006, and has been an active member of the NCA-Chicago Chapter since 2003. She has been a member of the Concierge Community in the hotel and corporate sector since 1989. Sheryl was inducted into the Concierge Hall of Fame in 2011.

Joyce Fong, Vice President
Joyce is the Director of Concierge Relations & Service for Concierge Preferred. Joyce has served as Director of Membership since 2003 and Executive Director of Administration in 2008. Joyce received the NCA Concierge Outstanding Service Award four times, most recently in 2011.

Nancy Caldwell, Director of Administration
Nancy was a Civic Concierge with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs/Office of tourism. After retiring in 2010, she opened her own concierge service, “Calling on Caldwell.” She has served as the Director of Administration for the NCA’s Chicago Chapter for more than 10 years.

Penny Hughes, Director of Finance
Penny has been with the NCA since 2004 and served as Director of Finance since 2006. Penny was the recipient of the Donald J. Deporter Lifetime Achievement award in 2010.

Audrey Riggen, Director of Membership
Audrey has been a concierge with The Merchandise Mart Properties since 2001 and a member of the NCA-Chicago Chapter since 2006. Audrey is also a Certified Concierge.

Marcella Doyle, Director of Marketing
Marcella has been a concierge in the residential market since 2009 and has been a member of the NCA since 2010. This is Marcella’s third year as Director of Marketing and became a certified concierge in 2013.

Dave Irvin, Co-Parliamentarian
Dave is a concierge with Concierge & Event Services Worldwide. He has been in the position of Parliamentarian for several years. He has been with the NCA since 1999 and became a NCA Certified Concierge in 2013.

Alyson Arnold, Co-Parliamentarian
Alyson is the concierge at 132 East Delaware Place Condominium Association and has been a member of the NCA Chicago Chapter since 2002 and this is her second term as Co-Parliamentarian. She has been instrumental in raising funds for pancreatic cancer research in the Chicago market.

John Drabik, Affiliate Liaison
John is Business Development Director for Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants & Events who have been Affiliate Members of the NCA Chicago Chapter since 2005. This is John’s second term as Affiliate Liaison.

Judy Sunvold, Associate Liaison
Judy is Manager, Conference Services at Loyola University Chicago. She has been an associate member of the NCA Chicago Chapter for two years.

About the National Concierge Association

The National Concierge Association was established in Dallas, Texas in 1998 out of a need by a group of concierge professionals to create a format for networking on a local, national and international basis with other concierges and venues of all types. Their founding principle is to provide unlimited and unparalleled networking and educational opportunities both concierge and affiliated businesses as well as to promote the industry worldwide.

The NCA has members worldwide representing the corporate, hotel, retail and entertainment, academic, civic, medical, residential and privately owned sectors of the hospitality industry. It is recognized by top media sources, such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, as today’s leading experts on concierge service.

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It will be ‘business as usual’ during Navy Pier renovation

Posted on September 25th, 2013 by

It will be business as usual throughout the renovation of Navy Pier for all who want to enjoy the Pier’s popular mix of entertainment, food and retail. Construction crews this week begin transforming the Chicago landmark into a bolder, greener, more contemporary urban space, following a design that grew out of the Centennial Vision planning framework adopted by Navy Pier Inc. in 2011.

Phase I of the redevelopment will occur in stages over the next 20 months. The two primary construction periods will occur between September 2013 and Memorial Day 2014, then again between Labor Day 2014 and Memorial Day 2015. Limited construction activity may take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2014, but will be planned in a way that minimizes the impact on Pier operations during the summer.

Phase I projects include transformation of South Dock into a more engaging, greener space with new paved surfaces, more seating and additional social areas; conversion of the South Arcade indoor walkway into a Chicago-themed food experience; and creation of a lighted water fountain/ice skating rink in Gateway Park.

During the renovation numerous events and activities that Chicagoland has come to expect from the largest tourist destination in the Midwest will continue to take place this fall and winter of 2013-2014.

Among other events and activities scheduled over the next few months:

 

  • Midwest MBA Career Fair  (September 27)
  • NACAC College Fair (September 28)
  • Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo (Oct. 1-2)
  • The Fear Haunted House at Navy Pier (Oct.10 – 31)
  • Chicago Chocolate Festival (Oct. 18-22)
  • Men’s Health Urbanathalon (Oct. 19)
  • SOFA Chicago (Nov.1 – Nov. 3)
  • Chicago Toy & Game Fair (Nov. 23-24)
  • Santa’s Arrival/GNMAA Lights Festival & Fireworks (Nov. 23)
  • Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, presented by Bank of America (Dec.6-Jan. 12)
  • New Year’s Eve Family Bash (Dec. 31)

People attending these and other events or visiting the Pier’s attractions or food and retail vendors will be able to walk along South Dock at all times during the renovation.

Phase I construction will be managed by Madison Evans Construction Group LLC, a joint venture of two local firms selected following a competitive process. Madison Evans provided the most cost effective proposal and a commitment to exceed the already high bar NPI had set for involvement of businesses owned by minorities and women.

The redevelopment may also include a new hotel and entertainment district near the Pier’s east end, which would expand the Pier’s audience with more adult, nighttime and year-round visitors.

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