CHICAGO -- The Illinois Tourism Bureau continues to harness
technology to provide better service to the state's tourism
industry as well as potential visitors to Illinois, according to
Donna Shaw, the bureau's director.
At the Illinois Governor's conference on tourism here, Shaw said
a new intranet, for example, now links 36 convention bureaus and
four regional tourism development offices to the state's tourism
The intranet provides an easier and quicker way for the bureaus
and tourism development offices to make additions and changes to
The database contains millions of bytes of information on
attractions, events, restaurants, lodging, routes and historic
sites and is the largest single tourism database in America, Shaw
It is used by travel counselors staffing the state's toll-free
line at (800) 2-CONNECT to help callers plan an Illinois trip and
send out information by fax, E-mail or regular mail.
Beginning in May, Shaw said, counselors also will be able to use
"cutting-edge" mapping technology to print out customized maps for
"When a customer asks us how to get to a particular gallery in
Alton from Cahokia Mounds or find their way to the state fair from
Indianapolis, we will fax or mail them a detailed map showing the
best route and all the attractions they can see along the way,"
Prospective visitors also will be able to access maps on the
state's tourism Web site at http://www.enjoyillinois.com, Shaw
The site also is being upgraded with pages devoted to group tour
activities, meetings and conventions and "Cultural Chicago," a
program of activities and advertising aimed at promoting the city's
Also in the works are "format pages" that will enable convention
bureaus and tourism development offices on the intranet to conduct
"do-it-yourself economic impact research," Shaw said.
"Our innovations have put us in position to stay on the cutting
edge as useful new technology comes along.
"This is a huge competitive advantage, and no other state has
it," Shaw said.
She also said that a nontraditional advertising vehicle, called
the Illinois Cyberbus, will make its debut next fall.
The bus will be outfitted with computers hooked up to the
Internet; cellular phones for dialing the toll-free information
line; uniformed, on-board travel counselors, and a giant inflatable
Lincoln hat on top to make it easy to find.
Shaw said Cyberbus will serve as a mobile billboard, promotion
call and direct sales opportunity all in one, traveling to major
festivals and attractions such as Taste of Chicago, the Illinois
State Fair and Gateway International Racetrack.