For the first time in over a year, Navy Pier hosted a trade show in the Aon Grand Ballroom this week, as dozens of vendors and hundreds of visitors gathered for the hospitality summit and tourism.
“Being able to celebrate and welcome back the hospitality and tourism community to Navy Pier is just one symbol of what’s to come,” said Marilynn Gardner, President of Navy Pier. “We know that together we will all bounce back, and it is great to be gathered on the platform to celebrate the start of the rebirth.”
Ateema Media and Marketing hosted the event, with exhibitors from restaurants, theaters, hotels and museums on site to celebrate not only the return of tourism but also to mark the 20e anniversary.
“We are excited to let people know that it is safe to come to Chicago and that it will always be the great experience you have come to expect,” said Tim O’Malley, CEO of Ateema. “Today it’s about bringing the industry together.”
Chicago is expected to reopen fully on Friday as the state moves into Phase 5, when all sectors of the economy can operate at full capacity. Kevin Duff, president of a local transportation company, has already noticed a change in the industry.
“We attend a lot of meetings and contextual events,” said Duff, president of Signature Transportation. “In the past, a lot of these event planners would come and plan ahead. You see weddings even weeks away now. They just want to get in there.
At their lowest point, Signature Transportation was operating at just 5% of its typical budget. Now Duff is optimistic about the future and says the show is the first step in a revival.
“It’s really just a boost for us and our business,” said Duff. “It’s great because now we can rehire the staff that we unfortunately had to get rid of. Were excited. “
A Navy Pier spokesperson said planning is already underway for future events in the coming weeks.