A weekend in Galesburg

By Dan Yasenko

Like most of you, IÕve searched for ideas to attract or create jobs for Galesburg. After a lot of thought, IÕve reached a few conclusions.  Even though I remain hopeful, I donÕt believe that Galesburg will be ŌsavedĶ by the entrance of a Maytag-sized employer to our community.  Instead, I suspect that GalesburgÕs rebound will occur as the result of the growth of our current employers and from our ability to attract small-to-medium sized business to our community. 

Fortunately, our city leaders have gone to great lengths to make Galesburg attractive to prospective employers.  Because of their efforts, we are well positioned to attract new employers of all size to Galesburg.  I am writing to offer a specific proposal to promote the growth of our existing lodging, dining and entertainment establishments (and their ancillary businesses) through a coordinated tourism effort. The principle elements of the concept are listed below

1      Develop a series of Galesburg weekend packages that target the Chicago-land area by capitalizing on our Amtrak connection. Amtrak departs from Chicago on Friday evenings at 5:55 PM and arrives in Galesburg at 8:34 PM.  The train has two departure times Galesburg on Sundays: 11:29 AM or 12:10 PM, with scheduled arrival in Chicago at 3:05 PM and 3:20 PM respectively.  This timeframe provides an ideal opportunity to construct a weekend of activities for Chicago residents to host A Weekend in Galesburg. 

2      Focus on providing worry and thought-free weekend of entertainment, dining and lodging in the City of Galesburg.                       While the Chicago-land area offers unparalleled opportunities for fine dining and entertainment, accessing these activities can be challenging, stressful and very costly.  A Weekend in Galesburg would begin with a worry-free train ride to our community.  Our guests would be provided complimentary transportation from the train station to their lodging at no charge.  Transportation would be provided for their departure as well.  In addition, transportation during their stay in Galesburg would be made as convenient as possible   Reservations for their primary dining and entertainment activities would be pre-planned to make the weekend as effortless as possible.  Obviously, additional activities would be available and made as convenient as possible for the guests to pursue.  The primary goal of A Weekend in Galesburg would be to provide an effortless, well-planned, worry and thought-free weekend of entertainment, dining and lodging at a small-town pace and with commensurate small-town savings.

3     Assemble A Weekend in Galesburg packages around a theme that is consistent with the featured musical entertainment for the weekend.               Galesburg has an exceptional range of musical talent at its disposal.   I believe that the music scene in the Galesburg area is good enough to attract visitors to Galesburg and is good enough to make them want to return.  I believe that if our collective, musical talents were packaged and marketed effectively as the cornerstone of a weekend travel package, Galesburg would gain a new and significant source of tourism.                                                  

4     Musical entertainment    Dining                 Lodging

Symphony              Chez WillyÕs                Prairie Inn or B & B

Eclectic/Bohemian       Landmark                  Prairie Inn or B&B

Country                   Ribs or buffet             Comfort Inn (Mall proximity)

Blues                       Mexican, Ribs or Pizza       Choice

Rock               Mexican, Ribs or Pizza  Choice

5     Provide a wide variety of additional activities consistent with the musical theme to acquaint our guests to Galesburg and to generate additional revenue for our community.                        Packages built around the Amtrak schedule would result in our guests spending two evenings and two mornings in Galesburg.  A primary schedule with dining and entertainment would provide the principle activities of the weekend.  A choice of additional activities, including a personal massage, a tour of historic homes and landmarks, a visit to a coffee house, and informal bluegrass jam session, attendance at a one-act play, antique shopping and traditional retail shopping would all be made as accessible and convenient for our guests as possible.  Our guests would have the ability to do as much or as little beyond the principle plans based on their personal tastes and interests.              

6     Market the package to the smaller, wealthier northern Chicago suburbs and to venues frequented by Chicago-land musicians and fans of live music.        Chicago establishments associated with live music and music workshops, such as The Old Town School of Folk Music and other live venues that attract both musicians and fans of live music would be an excellent starting point for a target audience.  The program could also be marketed in Galena and to those communities that are served by Amtrak.  The target group would likely be baby boomers with disposable income who seek out live entertainment. 

7     Market the package through a dedicated section of the Galesburg Tourism website.                                              Virtual tours of Galesburg lodging and dining establishments, along with on-line menus, drink costs, and cab rates would be important to provide.  In addition, musical samples of the featured entertainers, along with video streams, where available, would be featured on the website to establish the quality of the entertainment.  A Weekend in Galesburg would allow our guests to Ōlive largeĶ for a fraction of the cost of a weekend in the Chicago-land area.

8               Survey our guests over a free, continental breakfast prior to their Sunday morning departure to more accurately construct weekend packages for future guests.                               The development of additional, cohesive weekend packages would necessitate the collection and evaluation of data on our guests. 

I consider the local music scene in Galesburg to be a well-kept secret that needs to be shared outside of our community.  I also believe that we have a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial ability which, if harnessed collectively, could very well succeed at such an undertaking. I fully recognize that this proposal represents quite a reach, but I felt the need to share my thoughts just the same.