Cobo Center Boasts Massive Uptick in Technology Services Revenue

May 15, 2018

Fiscal year 2018 has been a successful one for Cobo Center’s technology services, which experienced a 58 percent jump in revenue compared to 2017.

According to Claude Molinari, general manager of SMG/Cobo Center, this positive uptick comes alongside the fact that the facility’s WiFi remains free to visitors and events as a sales incentive.

“Facility-wide free WiFi in Cobo Center differentiates us in the market and has been free of charge since the installation of the original network in 1997,” Molinari explained. “The current 4G WiFi network and can handle 30,000 simultaneous users, although we frequently customize the system to accommodate events for higher usage.”

During Cobo’s recent $279 million renovation, the facility upgraded its tech offerings to include digital signage, a broadcast studio with a facility-wide fiber network and a 10G Internet network built with an inherent 40G capacity.

Upgrades in the WiFi network allow a “splash page” that users see when they sign on to the network, a feature that is activated when events sell splash page sponsorships that allow users to see sponsor logos and other visual graphics. 

This year, that enhancement has been used to boost event revenue for the North American International Auto Show; the SAE WCX World Congress Experience 2018 and the FIRST Championship.

“Technology upgrades during the renovation were staged to continuously meet customer demands into the future,” said Molinari. 

He continued, “The increase in revenue reflects the effectiveness of our in-house strategy, the industry’s growing use of advanced technology for gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, and video and streaming video in exhibits and presentations. We are ready for all of it.”

The addition of Cobo’s interior digital signage system, which displays graphics and video for events, reduces the need for other types of signage that may end up in the waste stream. 

In addition, both the interior and exterior digital signage provides events with additional revenue stream opportunities with sales of advertising and sponsorships. The 3,000-square-foot exterior digital sign on the corner of Cobo Center at Washington Boulevard and Congress Street has earned the facility more than $1 million in ad revenue since its installation in 2015, according to Cobo officials

“Digital sign advertising revenue has been important for Cobo Center as our Michigan state tax subsidy decreases year to year,” explained Patrick Bero, Cobo Center CEO/CFO. 

He added, “Under the current legislation, that subsidy will be reduced to zero in 2023 and we are preparing for that eventuality.”


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