Despite my annual visits to Chicago for the past 12 years for the Club Industry Show (minus the one year we held the show in Las Vegas), I have never looked at Chicago quite the way that I did last week when I participated in the annual pre-show site visit with several members of our show team. Usually, my thoughts related to the city revolve around the weather, the food and the traffic. All three also were on my mind with this visit, but more as part of the planning process than for my personal comfort.
I helped check out four possible sites for the opening night reception: American Junkie, Café Paris, the East Bank Club and EPIC. Each had a really good feel to them. The East Bank Club and EPIC had outdoor options, but it might be a bit too cold to use those considering the show is Oct. 22-24. American Junkie and Café Paris had cool skylights and seating areas. All four are a quick shuttle bus ride from McCormick Place and close to other restaurant options if you want to go out for dinner after the opening night reception. We hope to make a decision soon on which option will work best. (View photos of the four options at the end of the blog, and let us know in the comment section if you have a favorite.)
Another part of the visit was reviewing the room assignments for the keynote address, the educational sessions and some of the special events. Plus, we looked at the lobby of the Lakeside Center (the hall in which we will again be located this year) to determine the best location for the registration, the show office and the Thursday evening Top 100 reception. We came up with some new options that you will have to see in October.
Also, we found out that when we hold the 2015 show at McCormick Place, the carpet at the Lakeside Center will be all new. Kind of makes you wish this year was 2015, doesn't it?
Another part of the visit included looking at three possible locations for our club tours. We visited DePaul University's rec center, where they do a lot of marketing to attract the community. We also visited Midtown Athletic Club's Fullerton Avenue location, which will be undergoing a renovation during the show and could be a great example of how to continue to operate during a renovation. The other members of our group visited the newest Fitness Formula Club, which I had the privilege of visiting last summer. It is a great example of how to attract the commuting population.
I missed the Fitness Formula Club tour because I stayed behind at Midtown to interview Steven Schwartz, CEO, and Michael Mahoney, vice president and general manager, about the renovations that the Fullerton location will soon undergo due to the city's imminent domain issues. Despite initial reservations about the city taking part of their building to reconfigure a dangerous intersection, Schwartz and Mahoney now see a huge opportunity, and we plan to have video next month sharing their plans.
On another note related to the show, we have completed the final selections for the conference sessions and are plugging those sessions into the schedule. We should be finalizing those in the next few days and reaching out to the speakers selected. Once that is done, we will get the session online as soon as possible so that you can start selecting your conference sessions. We were fortunate to have almost 400 submissions from which to choose. Of course, we only have about 50 session spots, so many wonderful session topics won't be shared at the show, but we'll see if we can find a spot for them online. Stay tuned!