Entry Criteria

Entry Criteria

Eligible Businesses

Eligible businesses and organizations include:

  • Destination marketing organizations
  • Convention & visitor bureaus
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Tourism attractions
  • Museums and cultural institutions
  • Restaurants, cafés and bars
  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Retail and entertainment centers
  • Other travel and hospitality-related organizations and associations

*Terms and conditions for award submissions: Entry forms and payment must be received by January 5, 2018 at 5:00PM. No repeat entries are allowed. Entrants can only use their entry in ONE category. Entries that have received an award are not eligible to be submitted again for two years. Special conditions apply. 

Award Categories

There are nine (9) Tourism Award categories. The majority of these categories have two awards, defined by the size of your annual operating and marketing budgets.

  • Budget A is for total annual operating and marketing budgets of $500,000 or more.
  • Budget B is for total annual operating and marketing budgets of under $500,000.
  1. Best Leisure Collateral: Brochure, newsletter, direct mail or other promotional piece created for the consumer leisure market.
  2. Best Social Media Marketing: Online videos, podcasts, viral promotion, blogs, search engine optimization, pay-per-click/PPC, e-mail marketing or creative use of social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquare, Pinterest, Google+ and/or YouTube to promote a tourism experience or product.
  3. Best Cooperative Partnership: Any campaign, program, tour, publication, event or other activity that is the result of partnership between three or more destinations, businesses or organizations who share resources to promote a common tourism experience or product.
  4. Best Branding Initiative: Campaign, tool or activity designed to revitalize the destination brand, establish new brand identity or create brand awareness. May include industry economic impact messaging.
  5. Best Website: Website used to promote a destination with criteria based on design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting and ease of use.
  6. Best Visitors Publication: Visitors guide, magazine, book or other publication used to promote a tourism destination.
  7. Best Event or Festival: Event or festival designed to attract visitors to an area and provide a positive economic impact including hotel overnight stays and restaurant revenue.
  8. Best Tourism Marketing Campaign: Marketing, promotion and/or campaign created to overall promote a tourism destination. This category recognizes creativity, innovation, clearly stated objectives and how those are measured, and the demonstrated results from a program that utilized multiple media components.
  9. Friend of Tourism Award: This category is for an individual that is passionate about Illinois tourism and has become an industry icon. They are to be nominated by friends in Illinois tourism.

Judging Criteria

You will be asked to supply information about your project, including details of:

  • Your Target Market/Audience
  • Your Purpose/Marketing Objectives
  • Execution – strategies you used to meet your target audience and stated objectives
  • Impact/Results – how you measured and achieved success or effectiveness with this project

The judges will be looking for innovative tourism marketing initiatives and outstanding results and will evaluate entries based on the following criteria:

  • Does the entry form clearly and completely answer all questions?
  • Does the entry describe and meet its stated target audience and objectives?
  • Is the project’s message clear, easy to understand and well-organized?
  • Is the project innovative, demonstrating originality and creativity?
  • Did the entry achieve strong results/return-on-investment?

Judges will also rate the overall impression and effectiveness of the entry.

How to enter the awards

The awards have a simple three-step entry process.

Step 1: Decide which categories you wish to enter

  • Review the award categories and decide which categories you would like to enter.
  • There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit. You may enter in more than one category, or multiple times in a single category.
  • All work must have been produced, placed or completed between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.
  • NB. Your organization must be registered for the 2018 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism to participate in the 2018 Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards.
  • Award Winners will be announced during the Awards Ceremony Dinner on Monday, February 26, 2018, in Chicago, IL. If you submit entries, please be sure to have a representative attend the Awards Ceremony to accept any awards.

Step 2: Submit your entry and payments

  • All one form this year!
  • $50 for first category, $30 each additional category by the same organization. You will be asked for an email verification to add any additional categories. If you have any additional questions, please contact timosborn@timezoneone.com.
  • Please use the payment form to list your entries and total costs.
  • All fees must be paid via credit card. We cannot accept checks.
  • Entry forms and payments must be received by 5:00PM on January 5, 2018. No entries will be accepted after the deadline.
  • Please be sure to complete all questions on the entry form including the entry category and budget division (if appropriate). Incomplete entries and entries not prepared in accordance with the guidelines may be disqualified.
  • All support materials must be submitted electronically. However, we do encourage entrants to supplement print piece submissions with 15 additional hard copies.

Step 2: You’ll receive a confirmation email

If you have questions, or for more information on the 2018 Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards, please contact Tim Osborn at timosborn@timezoneone.com.


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