It is that time of the year again that we all start preparing for the national IFT 2016 in Chicago:
Planning for the conference, entertaining potential clients, networking and team building are only some of the things you have to think about. To help make the most of your experience, we have compiled a comprehensive guide that will provide you the best places to stay, things to do and interesting tips and tricks to make the most of one of the biggest food conferences of 2016!
Tips, Tricks and Strategies to Make The Most of Your IFT Experience
The Palmer House Hilton is the preferred hotel for IFT and is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Chicago making it an excellent location to entertain clients. However, it is approximately 2 miles from the convention center and although there is a complementary shuttle that will drop you off and pick you up directly at the show, it may take a little longer than you hope for.
The alternative is to book a hotel next to the convention center where you can walk directly over, but the location is less ideal for entertainment.
Discounts on Hotels:
If you are looking to save a little extra money, you can book your hotels directly through IFT and receive a discount. Hotel reservations must be made by June 23, 2016 to receive special rates, but act quickly because rooms are booking up fast. At the time of this article, the Palmer House Hilton only has the Executive Level available for ~$330 USD a night with the IFT discount.
Additional Accommodations Nearby:
Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront for $349/night
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place for $294/night
Hilton Chicago – SOLD OUT
Since hotels are booking up fast you may also want to consider options like AirBnB or VRBO:
These websites allow people to list their personal property as a hotel alternative that you can rent just like a hotel. These resources can be a great bargain.
Plan your meals and make reservations ahead of time, when possible:
Chicago is full of excellent dining options, especially being home to the famous Chicago deep dish pizza and excellent steak houses. Whether you plan on entertaining, networking, or celebrating with your coworkers, be sure to make your reservations today to secure a wonderful dining experience.
The IFT 2016 app is full of great information to help you plan for a successful trade show. You can download the IFT app on android and iOS. COMING SOON
The weather in July
Weather varies from mid 70s – to mid 80s with mostly summer skies with the occasional rain shower due to the higher humidity. Be sure to bring an umbrella as weather can be unpredictible at times.
Transportation to McCormick Place
From Chicago O’Hare Airport:
When you arrive at Chicago O’Hare International Airport you will need to arrange transportation to get to downtown. Here are several options to choose from:
‘L’ Train System Blue Line ($5 USD ~45 minutes) directly from the airport you can hop on a train that can take you right into downtown. Pop in your hotel on your smartphone and select the train option, which will give you detailed instructions on which line to take.
Uber/Lyft ($32-50 USD ~50 minutes)
Taxi (~$45 USD ~50 minutes)
Rental Car (Varies)
From Chicago Midway Airport:
When you arrive at Midway International Airport you will need to arrange transportation to get to downtown. Here are several options to choose from:
‘L’ Train System Orange Line ($5USD ~45 minutes) directly from the airport you can hop on a train that can take you right into downtown. Pop in your hotel on your smartphone and select the train option, which will give you detailed instructions.
Uber/Lyft ($17-23 USD ~20 minutes without traffic)
Taxi (~$40 USD ~20 minutes without traffic)
Rental Car (Varies)
Navigate Chicago Without a Signal:
Downloading maps ahead of time is particularly useful for international travelers who do not wish to pay the high fees associated with international data rates. You can easily download a map of Chicago and use it for offline use with the Google Maps app. Even without a signal, you will be able to navigate the windy city without burning through your data.
Skip to 1:33 to learn how to download maps to your phone with Google Maps. Note: you must have a gmail account and be signed in for this to work.
How to get the most from IFT 2016
IFT is more than just the expo. They put on a lot of great activities that are perfect for networking. Here are a few don’t miss opportunities:
Dine at IFT Bistro
This year IFT is putting on an all-inclusive dining experience right on the expo floor. If you are looking for networking opportunities or just looking for healthy lunch options this is a must go to event. Advanced reservations are required so be sure to register and check out the menu. IFT Bistro can be found next to Mintel’s booth number 4953.
This is a new event this year where you can meet with the developers of new products, technologies and innovations to hopefully inspire your next product. (Location TBA)
There are tons of great educational sessions that you shouldn’t miss. Be sure to check out these four featured sessions:
Science Versus Sensationalism and Soundbites: How Can Consumers Make More Informed Choices? — Jacques Rousseau
Bad Science — Ben Goldacre
Taming Dragons in the Age of Pseudoscience — Bev Postma
Get a sneak peak of some of the products that will be showcased on the expo floor. Details of where this is going to be held are coming soon.
Get information on the latest technical research. You can find the eposters section at booth 347.
These popular education sessions give you a chance to sit down and have conversations with your fellow peers to create connections and build relationships.
There is no better place to find a career in the food business than the IFT career center. Bring plenty of resumes, dress the part and be ready for formal interviews.
New Exhibitor Pavillion
Is a great way to connect with companies that have yet to exhibit at IFT before. A great, new, innovative company called MycoTechnology, which also happens to be the one that brought you this post, will be exhibiting at the pavilion this year at booth 743.
We have developed the worlds first certified organic flavor modulator, ClearTaste™, that effectively works by blocking the perception of bitterness, astringency, and sourness in a variety of products, which will be demonstrated at the show. Stop by and mention this guide and we will give you a special gift. You can also learn more about ClearTaste below:
Things to do and exclusive deals on local activities
There is no shortage of things to do in Chicago. Here are a few must see attractions:
Willis Tower (Formally known as Sears Tower) Sky Deck
Check Out Cloud Gate (AKA Bean) at Millennium Park
Stop by the Navy Pier
Opened to the public in 1916, today its one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions, made up of 50 acres of gardens, attractions, shops, restaurants, concert venues and parks.
Unique ways to entertain Clients
Start your evening at City Winery then rent a boat to cruise down the river
There is no better way to entertain clients like drinks and a boat cruise in Chicago.
Start the evening over at the City Winery and have some food and drinks with clients over looking the river (Located only 3 miles from the convention center).
Head across the street to Chicago Electric Boat Company where you can rent boats by the hour. Use promo code “MYCO” and receive a free bottle of wine on your river cruise. Because of the high demand, its best to reserve a boat ahead of time. Many of the boats can seat up to 8 people comfortably with some supporting up to 12 people.