Chicago Tourism Bureau Uses Social Media To Win Tradeshow Votes

Ahh, Chicago.  You just gotta love how we handle elections.  While this vote wasn’t for political gain, the financial ramifications were rather large.

You see, the National Plastics Exposition was deciding whether Orlando or Chicago would host their annual show in 2012, and they thought they would base their decision on an online poll conducted by The winning city would receive millions of dollars from increased work, hotel stays, restaurant purchases and other tourist related purchases.

The poll would last just one week (Oct 19-26), and after a few days Orlando had a commanding lead.  But then the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau got word of the poll and immediately took action using various forms of social media to make its members aware of the poll and the importance of their “vote”.

By the week’s end, Chicago won with about 68% of the vote.  So how did it happen? According to Donald Loepp, Plastics News Editor, Meghan Risch , Director of Public Relations for the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, deserves all the credit. “As you can see from your latest poll, Chicago is very passionate about its meetings and convention industry,” Risch wrote to Loepp. “It’s social media at its best.”

Here’s what Loepp wrote about Risch’s effort:

“On Oct. 21, Risch posted a discussion highlighting the Plastics News poll on, in a members-only group for the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau.  More than 600 of the convention bureau’s 1,100 members are part of the LinkedIn group.

‘That, coupled with the CCTB staff and McCormick Place staff, definitely contributed to a spike in votes — we’re committed to keeping [NPE] in Chicago,’ Risch said. The effort quickly expanded far beyond plastics, or even the convention and tourism folks. Within a few days, PN Editor Robert Grace and I were fielding comments from people in Chicago who had no connection at all to NPE, but who were asked to vote in our poll. Isn’t it interesting how Risch used social media to generate such a quick and overwhelming response to a timely question? There’s a lesson there for all the B2B marketing pros in the plastics industry.”

True, this method of determining the best place to hold a tradeshow conference is not ideal.  As Chicago’s effort shows, there’s more to the vote than just member preference.  But that’s what is so fascinating about this — if a group wants to achieve something, they can — so long as they band together, communicate and use the power of their network.

The Original Daley would be proud.  In fact, I’m sure all Chicago politicians are snickering about our newest way to win a vote.

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