Welcome Back to Chicago; LIGHTFAIR International 2018 Recon Report

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Welcome (back) to Chicago! Your humble editor has conducted two reconnaissance trips to the Windy City and the early forecast calls for an excellent LIGHTFAIR.  Both trips to McCormick Place were unaccompanied, and completely unauthorized.

LIGHTFAIR was last in Chicago 1995, when the talk of the show was a two-lamp, 26-watt Compact Fluorescent downlight from Lightolier, long before Philips bought Genlyte, and long before Philips Lighting was spun off by Philips.

Here is the news you need to know:

Friendly Union:  We talked to exhibitors in June who had nice things to say about the union labor.  We spoke to four different companies and could not find a complaint.  Also, at a second show at McCormick,  we noticed a few companies had dropped off their booth displays and literature and were manually carrying everything on dollies.  There was a near-by security guard who seemed completely uninterested.  Contrast this to San Diego, where you could not drive a vehicle anywhere near the front of the building.

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Wi-Fi.   I had a strong Wi-Fi signal on my phone—and it was free.  LIGHTFAIR has not yet announced whether there will be free Wi-Fi, but it was available during my last visit.

Hotels. The best hotel venue we have had was San Diego, where most everyone stayed in the Gas Lamp District and could easily walk to the convention center.  Philadelphia is the second best hotel city.  New York is last.

If you haven’t booked your hotel, you are late.

Chicago is interesting in that the Hyatt Regency has dominated the trade show scene because they are attached directly to McCormick.  We visited the Hyatt in June and were unimpressed.  At the time of my visit, Hyatt was the only hotel attached to McCormick and management acted as if they were the only hotel attached to McCormick.   Last week, Marriott opened a Marquis property, connected to McCormick.  We were given a private tour of the Marriott venue on 5 SEP–a week the hotel opened and it is simply world-class.

Yesterday, On-Peak, the Hotel Manger for LIGHTFAIR,  showed that both the Marriott Marquis and the Hyatt were sold out.  Today, Marriott shows two upgrade rooms ($358) available.  Check their site often as sometimes rooms become available.


hyatt wooden seats.jpgBars.   Every year, there just seems to be that one bar where everyone congregates and this is where EdisonReport does our best work.   My bet is that the Marriott Marquis will be the one in 2018.  Although it was not open during my tour, it just looks fun—much better than the Hyatt bar, which seemed quite sterile with its wooden seats, cafeteria look, and high CCT lighting.  If hospitals had bars, they would pattern them after the Hyatt McCormick.  Also, the Marriott Marquis Concierge lounge, called the M-Club Lounge, features a private outdoor roof-top terrace that is stunning.  Our team will be spending late nights at the Marriott.


uber lyft.jpgTransportation.   Midway and O’hare both have a CTA link that will take you downtown, where you can get a link to McCormick.  The trains are efficient and relatively clean.

Because of the lack of availability at the two hotels attached to the convention center, my bet is that most will stay in the Magnificent Mile area.  There is a Green Line and a Red Line train that are within walking distance of McCormick.  Travel time is about 30-minutes, including walking.  There is a Metra station under McCormick that will also take you North, its trains run either every 20 min or 40 min.

Of course LIGHTFAIR will have their busses running.  Fortunately, Chicago is a very Uber/Lyft-friendly city and McCormick has designated pickup/drop off sites.

Shipping.  The fedex office at both the Marriott Marquis and Hyatt charge an additional fee to ship or receive any packages, in some cases up to $25 per box.  The closest non-fee Fedex is located at 1242 Canal St, Chicago, IL 60607 Located in: South Loop Marketplace  (312) 455-0920

The closest non-fee UPS is located at 47 W Polk St #100, Chicago, IL 60605 in the Dearborn Station Station.  (312) 427-7839. (note this location does charge a fee to receive packages, but not to ship packages.

Lifetime Achievement Awards.  EdisonReport will move our Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony from Tuesday night to Monday night, 7 MAY, from 6pm to 8 pm.  Our judges will begin their work in January and we’ll announce the awardees in March.   There are very few events on Monday night, so the award ceremony will likely sell out.

CEO Interviews.   In Philadelphia, LIGHTFAIR had a wonderful media room for EdisonReport to film our six CEO interviews.  We expect to have a similar set up in Chicago.

Chicago Exhibitors.  LIGHTFAIR has something special in mind for the Chicago-based companies that are exhibiting.  We expect to have those details next week.

Although today is the first day of Fall 2017, it is time to start thinking hard about LIGHTFAIR 2018.  It’s has all of the makings of a tremendous show.

25 Sep