Dear Mr. John Hollon,
This past Friday we saw your article that took a few jabs at Chicago, titled, Weekly Wrap: SHRM 2013 in Chicago? You Might as Well Shoot Me Now. Although we understand your gripes, in follow-up, we decided to refute some of your claims and explain why Chicago will be a great host for the SHRM Annual Conference. We just can't help ourselves, we're Chicago natives and if there's one thing, aside from sports, (specifically baseball - Go Cubs) that unites us all, it's coming to the defense of our great city.
As the nation's largest convention centers, of course it's going to appear "hulking." But once you get inside, it's not as challenging to navigate as you make it out to be. And although we can't argue that there is only one hotel in the direct vicinity of McCormick Place, you must remember at past SHRM conferences, there are always free shuttles to a majority of the surrounding hotels.
**Update** Here's the Shuttle Guide
Note: We're not completely sure what you were referring to when you said "...unless you have a death wish...," but the area around McCormick Place is safe, we promise.
"Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
Leave it to good 'ole Ben Franklin to help us out here. One part about living in Chicago is having to deal with the high tax rates. We've come to terms with it, but many tourists are shocked when a $19.99 somehow ends up costing $27. Just how we expect at least one deceased voter to cast their vote in local elections, we expect taxes to go up (and up...and up). But it's important to note that ttourists aren't taxed more heavily than locals, we all pay the same rate.
The article you reference, Mr. Hollon, doesn't mention any specific tourist tax - it just states that the average daily amount spent on tax is $40.31. We're going to assume this figure primarily includes taxes on transportation, food and clothing. Luckily, there's ways around this - for example, hopping on the CTA rather than taking a cab or buying clothing and souvenirs in areas outside the Loop (where tax rates are slightly lower).
If you're interested, we go into more detail in our SHRM 13: Guide to Chicago.
Too much effort? Here are 3 parties all within walking distance on the first night of the conference. Thanks to Blogging4Jobs for the party list.
1. Start here (which is pretty easy, considering it's at McCormick Place): Simply Hired Cocktail Party. Hosted by SimplyHired. 6:00 PM-8:00 PM. MIX Lounge at Hyatt McCormick Place. Register here.
2. Take the FREE SHRM shuttle from McCormick Place to Embassy Suites Hotel which is right near the SHRM13 Cocktail Party. Hosted by BackTrack. 6:00 PM-8:00 PM. Hard Rock Cafe at 63 W Ontario St Chicago. No Registration Listed. Details here.
3. A quick 10 minute walk away and you can end the night at the Official SHRM Tweetup. Sponsored by SHRM & Glassdoor. 8:00 PM-11:00 PM. House of Blues at 329 Dearborn St Chicago. Register here. And if its anything like last year's party, you will be in for a crazy night.
Sounds like a wallet and feet friendly night to us!
As baseball great Ralph Kiner once said, "If you don't like the weather, wait fifteen minutes." And we must say, this is one point we absolutely see eye-to-eye on Mr. Hollon. Just check the forecast before you leave. Right now the 10-day is showing high seventies and less than 30% chance of rain for the conference; hardly the exaggerated "torrential rains," you mentioned.
O'Hare International Airport
We understand your near hatred for O'Hare - we feel the same way, especially with six hour delays in January due to the snow. But did you know there are plenty of alternative travel routes, most notably the other major airport in the city, Midway? They're all highlighted in our SHRM '13: Guide to Chicago.
Mr. Hollon, with 435 murders caused by guns in 2012, the title "Weekly Wrap: SHRM 2013 in Chicago? You Might as Well Shoot Me Now" was a low-blow to us Chicagoans. We forgive you, but for future reference, there are three things you never joke about: baseball, asking for ketchup on your hot dog and violence, especially gun violence.
Please take this blog post as an invitation to visit the city we know and love. We're sure you'll feel otherwise after taking on Chicago like one of the locals. If you have some time, we'd love to buy you a 312 and an "extra wet" Italian beef. We have to warn you (and everyone else), don't even think about calling it a three-twelve. Just remember three-one-two and you'll be golden!