I bet you were excited when you marked May 16-18 on your calendar at the beginning of the year. The National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group is taking over Chicago once again this year, and we know you’re itching to take advantage of one of America’s best cities to visit.
When you’re not learning more about the restaurant industry, making connections or listening to insightful round tables and discussions (we’d recommend one hosted by MGH CMO and social media marketing director Ryan Goff, but more on that later), there are plenty of fun things to do while you’re in town.
Even if you’re staying through the weekend for the NRA Show, make sure to fill any of your downtime with a few of the activities below:
1. Break bread with new friends
The NRA MEG Conference is full of executives from competing brands, other company reps aiming to make business contacts and advertising agencies looking to get in front of the right CMO. Use this to your advantage! The best way to make the most of your experience at an event like this one is to continue those connections after-hours.
Still, know your audience. A slice and a pint from Giordano's could beat a steak and a bottle of red from Bavette's Bar and Boeuf if you’re dining with the right group. Sometimes even a mid-afternoon cup of coffee is a good move if you’re in a rush.
2. Catch a ballgame
While America’s sweetheart Chicago Cubs aren’t in town this week or weekend, the upstart White Sox are. The Texas Rangers come to the South Side for a four-game series. Thursday’s game features a free T-shirt giveaway, while Saturday’s is Star Wars bobblehead night! If you can sneak away from all the fun at the Fairmont Hotel, we’d recommend heading to Guaranteed Rate Field.
If you’re not interested in Chicago’s other baseball team, heading to Wrigleyville is never a bad choice. Tour the historic stadium, visit one of the local watering holes surrounding the field and pick yourself up a Cubs hat to wear next time you’re in town.
3. Be a Millennial at Millennium Park
When you think “Chicago,” one of the first things that comes to mind has got to be the famous “bean” at Millennium Park. Snap a photo in front of the iconic piece of art, and make sure the reflection shows the beautiful Chicago skyline. Wander over to Maggie Daley Park to see one of the city’s newest standout public offerings, complete with climbing walls.
4. Reach new heights
You’ve seen all your friends take a photo standing on the Willis Tower’s famous Sky Deck. It’s time you changed your Facebook profile photo, right? There are plenty of ways to access this breathtaking view of the city. Between tour packages, or just heading to the website, there’s no reason you can’t make this must-see stop during your stay in Chicago. Better Tip is the signature lounge for a drink. Plenty of unbeatable views, less lines, and libations!
5. Catch a show
The Second City is one of the the top comedy shows in the United States, and has produced comics that have gone on to realize incredible success. Stop in and you might see the next Chris Farley or Tina Fey.
The Logan Theatre, celebrating more than 100 years of service, is also a great place to see a mid-run or independent film. There are also plenty of interesting film artifacts on its walls, as well as old-time movie-going snacks.
6. Meet Ryan Goff
Shameless plug time: MGH CMO and social media marketing director Ryan Goff will be back for the second consecutive year to host a roundtable panel during this year’s MEG conference. This year’s discussion centers around digital marketing trends for restaurants. We’re also giving away an Amazon Alexa Package to one lucky roundtable attendee.
Ryan created the first social media marketing department of its kind in the mid-Atlantic area more than a decade ago. He's been nationally recognized as an authority on digital marketing, and has been named as leading one of the "Top 100 Global Ad Agencies That Know Social Media" by Forbes.com. He's been quoted by ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable and MSNBC.com, as well as for plenty of TV and radio/podcast hits.