Corporate travel guide for business travellers flying to Chicago…
12th September 2014
Chicago is a key business hub for many companies and associations and a popular corporate travel destinations, when it comes to planning meetings and events in the Midwest of the US. So, it is no surprise that at some point or another most business travellers will land in Chicago. That’s why we, at Flightline Travel Management, have compiled this simple corporate travel planner’s guide with the most important information travellers need to plan a successful business trip to Chicago. Of course, it includes useful business travel agents tips on how to best travel from the Airport to the City.
CORPORATE TRAVEL DESTINATION CHICAGO
Chicago is the third largest city in the US, with almost three million citizens and over 50 languages spoken. In addition to its great variability of languages, it also has various ‘towns’ that further emphasize the diverse character of Chicago, including its lively Chinatown, Little Italy, Greektown, Irish communities and its neighbouring Mexicans and Poles. Furthermore, there is also an Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and Persian area – just to name a view. It is no surprise that there is a vast variety of restaurants that add to the rich culinary offer in the Windy City. With about 145 hotels offering more than 42,400 rooms to stay, Chicago has a wide choice of accommodations for corporate travellers; from simple to fancy and luxurious. With its abundance of leisure offerings, you may well find it to be a great place to enjoy your free time better; after your work is done for the day. In addition to rooftop bars, you may want to have a walk along Lake Michigan and see Chicago’s skyline, go on to the Willis Tower Skydeck or find out more about the famous stories around Al Capone and Baby Face Nelson. Plus, with Flightline Travel’s MyTripBoard mobile itinerary management you’ll be able to easily access useful destination information.
CORPORATE MEETING AND EVENTS
Chicago and its metropolitan area are home to 32 Fortune 500 companies and so the place is more than experienced with its 12.31 million business travellers. So when it comes to corporate travel management, it’s no surprise that the city is a popular business destination for both mid-sized and large-scale conferences, conventions and congresses, amongst others due to its central location and superb public transport. Furthermore, the city offers a vast variety of options for hosting smaller business events or teambuilding events, etc. No matter what size or type of venue you are looking for, whether outdoor garden or park, zoo, private clubs, sports venues, museums, theatres or restaurants, cruises or chartered boats on Lake Michigan – Chicago offers something for every taste and occasion. McCormick Place, Chicago’s premier convention centre, offers the largest amount of exhibition space in North America (2.2 million square feet). Other popular locations are for example Navy Pier, Hilton Chicago, Hyatt Regency Chicago and Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, just to name a few.
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS FLYING TO CHICAGO AIRPORTS
The central location of Chicago and its two international airports (O’Hare and Midway) make it easily accessible for leisure and corporate travellers. Chicago O’Hare International Airport is the larger airport and one of the world’s busiest hubs for leisure and corporate travel, based on its travel volume.
O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Among other corporate travel services, the airport has bureau de change facilities, ATMs and full-service banks. Payable and free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the terminals and options for recharging laptops and mobile phones are offered in Terminals 1, 2 and 3. In case you hold an according loyalty card (check with your corporate travel management), individual airlines provide lounges, dedicated to business travellers. Corporate travel managers and planners may find the opportunities for holding meetings directly at the airport interesting, as a conference and business centre with extensive meeting facilities can be found in Terminal 2. Of course, the conference centre offers modern fax, photocopying, packing and shipping services. Plus, the airport offers paid and free-wifi access. The so-called and well equipped ‘Laptop Lane’ with multiple computer workstations, laptop connections, fax and printing facilities options for re-charge your smartphones, iPhone or tablet in Terminal 1, enables travellers to stay connected whenever they need it. For corporate travellers who need to stay overnight for a connecting flight, our corporate travel agents advise to consider the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport hotel located at Terminal 2, which is at the same time the only hotel at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. However, to save money and reduce corporate travel expenses, it often is a good idea to opt for some local hotels near the airport, as they often provide a free airport shuttle bus services for their leisure and corporate travellers.
Leisure and corporate travellers have a huge choice of options to reach and leave the airport via Chicago’s excellent ground transportation network. The probably greenest and most convenient travel option is to use rail services. Travellers can choose between Metra North Central rail services and ‘Light rail’, the city’s rapid transit system. ‘Light rail’, Chicago’s 24-hour ‘L’ service, brings corporate travellers to Chicago city centre within only 45 minutes and can be found on the lowest level of the main multi-storey car park at Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Leisure and corporate traveller can purchase ‘Light rail’ tickets for only £1.34, €1.68 or $2.25. The Metra North Central rail services connect the airport with destinations in the Lake County and northern Cook County and are located near the remote long-term car parks.
CAR RENTAL, SHUTTLE BUSES & COACH TRAVEL
When it comes to road travel, business travellers have a number of options available. Depending on your corporate travel destination, you can use shuttle buses offered by GO Airport Express or a direct shuttle to Midway International Airport, an hourly service from Coach USA. An alternative business travel solution may be to book an airport taxi, which is a journey of about 30-34 minutes to Chicago city. Taxis can be found outside the arrivals hall of each terminal. The average cost for a taxi services is about £24, €30, or $40. Should you consider to rent a car for your corporate travel, then you can relax as you’ll find plenty of the leading car hire companies (e.g. Alamo, Avid, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National) on the lower level, near the baggage reclaim in Terminal 1, 2 and 3. Although there are no car rentals in Terminal 5 corporate travellers have access to courtesy telephones and a car hire information kiosk to organise a rental car. Many car rentals offer free shuttle buses to pick-up and drop-off areas.
Midway International Airport (MDW)
Located in the southwest of the city centre, ‘Chicago Midway International Airport’ is the smaller of the two major Chicago airports and home for many regional and low-cost airlines. Throughout the terminal you can find ATMs and in concourse A, there is a currency exchange. Wi-Fi internet access is available in all concourses. Corporate travel manager and meeting planners may be interested in the conference and business facilities which are extensively available at the Chicago Marriott, located nearby. Additionally, the large McCormick Place Convention Center is near central Chicago. There are no hotels directly at Midway Airport, but many options are given close by that can be reached by their respective shuttle bus services to/from the airport.
GETTING TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
By rail, you can reach the city/airport using Orange Line services, which takes about 25 minutes from airport to centre. Corporate travellers can purchase tickets for only £1.34, €1.68 or $2.25. Several buses are operated between the airport and the centre as well, taking about 55 minutes (£1.34, €1.68, $2.25). GO Airport Express operate airport shuttles to central Chicago. The journey takes about 30 minutes, ticket costs are about £16, €20 or $27. For corporate travellers needing to go to O’Hare International Airport taking an Omega Airport Shuttle may be the better business travel solution. Omega Airport Shuttle service tickets can be purchased for about £26.73, €33.51 or $45 and offers many discounted fares for group travel reservations. Business taxis usually cost about £14.85-£17.83, €18.62-€22.34 or $25-$30. Taxis are located on the lower level in front of the terminal building, where you can also find shared ride services and taxi vans. Corporate travellers should be prepared that a trip via taxi takes in average 20 to 40 minutes to central Chicago. For longer distances, e.g. to other states, coaches are available. Car rentals, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National, are not located at the airport, but can be easily reached using a free shuttle bus that is provided from the lower level of the terminal building.
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All prices correct at time of publication.
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