BakingTech has been held at the Chicago Downtown Marriott Magnificent Mile for the past 34 years. It has been an outstanding partnership which has provided numerous benefits to both parties. So, why is ASB moving to the Chicago Hilton in 2015?
The decision to move from the Marriott to the Hilton was not made quickly or taken lightly. The Board of Directors formed a Housing Committee which worked with staff to explore hotel options in Kansas City, Nashville, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Chicago, including a possible new contract with the Marriott. Numerous hotels were visited and evaluated in terms of space requirements, sleeping rooms for guests and prices for members and the Society. Members were also surveyed about the various options once the potential list of cities and hotels had been narrowed. The Board of Directors determined that the Chicago Hilton offered the best combination of meeting and exhibit space, sleeping rooms and pricing.
Simply put, ASB outgrew the Marriott several years ago. Marriott’s largest ballroom is a mere 19,193 square feet. You only need to walk through the MarketPlace to realize that the ballroom is too small for ASB. The tables are too close together to allow any private conversations and the aisles are narrow and quickly crowded. The current space does not allow the MarketPlace to increase the number of exhibitors or for ASB to add new elements that would attract more bakers. The size of the other meeting rooms also limits the number of Technical Breakout Sessions that can be held and often results in rooms filled to capacity with members not able to attend their chosen sessions.
Hilton – More Space
The Chicago Hilton has the largest exhibit space of any Chicago hotel. The Hilton will give us three times the space as the Marriott, 64,790 feet of flexible exhibit space - plenty of room for more exhibitors, adequate space between the tables and wide aisles. The extra room will also allow ASB to explore options for possible Product Development Competitions, Innovation Rows, Student Poster Sessions, bakery product displays and much more. Other upgrades include 50 breakout rooms (20 of which seat more than 100 people), 13 Presidential-style hospitality suites, rooms with two beds and two bathrooms to make it easier for members to double-up and reduce costs, a new and spacious bar area for networking and much more. The Hilton’s sleeping rooms have been completely renovated during the past two years along with the restaurant and the hotel registration area. Through all the upgrades, the Hilton has retained its Old World elegance.
Hilton – Reduced Cost
What are all these improvements going to cost ASB and its members? Room rates at the Marriott for 2014 are $180. Room rates at the Hilton for 2015 and 2016 are $179, with an increase to $184 in 2017. These rates are slightly less than the rates proposed by Marriott for these same years. The numerous Hilton concessions on audiovisual rates, meeting room fees, food and beverage and hospitality suites will also save money for both our members and ASB.
As ASB moves forward, we are always looking for ways to strengthen our organization. We believe this move to the Hilton will assist us in growing year after year. We would appreciate any feedback from members to help us with our transition to the new venue. Please send any suggestions or ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.