Geographic Intelligence & Consumers in Chicago

From the Basil Labs team

“We are prepared for a bumpy ride,” — Andrew Perutz, president of Nimlok Chicago, in Des Plaines.

The impacts of the Coronavirus have decimated the tourism industry — it’s narrative we’re now all familiar with. In this article, we’re looking into late summer and fall 2020, when people (hopefully) begin to plan their travels. In this competitive landscape where most tourism hubs have reopened for a limited pool of domestic and international tourists, what narratives should Chicago tourism organizations base their marketing around? How can the city capture the maximum number of visitors post-COVID-19?

Earlier this month, the BID Foundation posted an article that laid out the stages of a Post-COVID-19 Framework for Recovery: Crisis, Pre-Recovery, Recovery, and Transformation.


Our analysis helps inform strategy in the recovery stage in attracting investment and increasing footfall. In this case study, we quantify visitor perceptions of Millennium Park and a selection of surrounding businesses in Chicago. In doing so, we are able to identify focus areas for marketing and improvements in location offerings.

The Analysis

No alt text provided for this image Our sample focused on Millennium Park and nine surrounding locations. These ranged from shopping to F&B locations to theaters. The aim of this analysis was to track and benchmark popular consumer perceptions across locations and understand where visitors of the Park also traveled to.

Domestic locations


International locations


By taking a sample of recent visitors to Millennium Park, we’re able to map other locations these visitors have also been to. The maps above visualize all other locations that visitors of Millennium Park have also been to and posted about.


The United States had by far the most locations, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and India. The top 5 cities that tourists came from or traveled to were Chicago, New York, Indianapolis, Houston, and Milwaukee; Houston being the farthest city from Chicago.


When analyzing the most frequent perceptions of our selection of popular locations near Millennium Park, we found that food, art, and the view were the most popular topics discussed. Delicious food at Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe, beautiful parks with stunning landscape design, scenic views of the city, and world-class artwork are all key factors that can attract tourists to come fall 2020.


One thing that surprised us in the analysis was that Cindy’s view was more popular than its food — Cindy’s rooftop is a great spot to enjoy views of the city and understanding the immense value customers attribute to it is apparent in the bar chart above. These are the kinds of features that will help cities and retail recapture lost consumer audiences and bring out their unique competitive advantages.


Across all topics, we can begin to see differences in consumer perceptions by location. Cindy’s for example, benefits incredibly from its view — as do the Parks and Apple store and Chicago theater. However, its perceptions of its food have a lower positive to negative ratio than other F&B locations nearby.


We can find hints of deeper reasons as to why consumers hold these perceptions through additional text analyses. For example, taking a look at Nutella Café Chicago, we can see that it has pretty good food and service, but it suffers in consumer perceptions of its price and crowdedness.

If you were to explore similar breakdowns of other locations featured in the study, you would find that AMC River East 21 is a good choice to watch movies and bowl, but consumers perceive the parking to be too expensive. The Chicago Theater has a unique character, but visitors dislike how crowded it gets.

Improving these elements can elevate consumer experience as a whole. It’s important to remember that visitors come to Millennium Park and these locations for a myriad of reasons: business conventions, visiting family, solo travel, and more. Though this analysis takes a high-level approach to understanding top consumer perceptions, drilling down into these perceptions to boost the area as a whole will be ever more critical in capturing the unique value of Chicago as a destination in summer and fall 2020.

Take A Deeper Look

We’ve just scratched the surface on what’s possible. If you’re interested in taking a closer look at our COVID-19 Retail Audience Recapture Initiative or want to learn more about how consumers experience your area, connect with us below.

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