Navy Pier hosts Chicago's largest convention since before pandemic

Just days away from full reopening, Navy Pier hosted Chicago's largest trade some since the pandemic began.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS MCADAMS: Hi, Judy. Very busy out here at Navy Pier, and everybody is excited as we get closer and closer to Friday. Chicago fully reopening this coming Friday. This was the first trade show here at Navy Pier in more than a year. People so excited to be back and networking in person. The hospitality industry, which was impacted so heavily during the pandemic, making a comeback in Chicago.


Just days away from a complete reopening, Navy Pier hosting Chicago's largest trade show since the pandemic began. More than 800 industry leaders finally reconnecting in person, the Hospitality and Tourism Summit a sign Chicago's economy is making a recovery.

MARILYNN GARDNER: This is just the beginning.

ALEXIS MCADAMS: Chicago's the largest city of its size to roll back COVID-19 restrictions fully. Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner tells me, the summer is looking up.

MARILYNN GARDNER: Chicago's on the rebound. We're all in it together, and the entire community is rallying to reopen our spaces and welcome not only locals back to places like Navy Pier, but those in the drive market and then, eventually, those from the broader domestic and international markets.

ALEXIS MCADAMS: Spectra one of the nation's leading hospitality providers, says their Chicago venues, including Navy Pier, are booked and busy.

MARK LEAHY: We're slammed. We're just slammed.

ALEXIS MCADAMS: People ready to spend big money, looking to book events as soon as possible.

MARK LEAHY: They will spend money because they've been pocketing it for 12 months or 14 months. So why not have a good time? Come on out to Navy Pier, where it's just wonderful.

ALEXIS MCADAMS: Levy Food and Beverage working around the clock to prepare their specialties for events, handling all catered dining events at Navy Pier, catering weddings, grad parties, you name it.

FRANK ABBINANTI: What you're seeing now is what we've been working on for the last year because we knew that at some point, this was going to end.

ALEXIS MCADAMS: Foot traffic along the Mag Mile also picking up, wait lists at restaurants growing each day, and hotels back open.

- I think it's going to be a phenomenal summer.

ALEXIS MCADAMS: And we are getting closer and closer to that summer. Beautiful weather out here and so much fun at Navy Pier as things continue to reopen. And as things do reopen and pick up here in the city of Chicago, the hospitality industry looking to hire more employees. They say that hasn't been the easiest task. We'll have much more on that coming up tonight at 6 o'clock.