Detroit Renews Several Shows; Prepares to Welcome ASAE Annual Meeting Next August

September 29, 2014

Several shows have recently signed on to renew their contracts or in the midst of long ones at Detroit’s Cobo Center, leading to what Thom Connors, SMG regional vice president and general manager of the venue, calls one of the most successful years in “memorable history”.

The multi-year contract trend began in 2011 with the North American International Auto Show signing a 5-year contract. NACE/CARS and the Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s BigM agreed to return to Cobo next year, and SME just signed a new five-year agreement for their World Congress.

The Shell-Eco Marathon energy efficient vehicle competition begins a three-year run in Detroit and Cobo Center starting in 2015.

Larry Alexander, chairman of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA), governing body of Cobo, and president of the Detroit Metro Convention Visitors Bureau, said, “Each new season at Cobo Center has realized a significant rise in bookings. Couple that with sound fiscal management and strict energy conservation measures, and you have the formula for our current success.”

The last three trade shows this year in Cobo Center all exceeded anticipated attendance. SME’s new manufacturing show, The Big M, attained stronger attendance by 25 percent.

NACE/CARS, held last year in Las Vegas, saw a 70 percent jump in show attendance and the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress, previously held in Tokyo, jumped 50 percent in projected number of attendees.

Gerry Conover, managing director of ITS America said, “We exceeded our attendance goal by 50 percent - 9,100 rather than 6,000. We could not have done it without the Cobo Center and Centerplate staffs. You all went above and beyond to help us deliver what is being called ‘the best ITS World Congress’ in the 21-year history of the event. And that’s up against Paris, London, Tokyo, Beijing, Vienna and a boatload of ‘name international cities. We told ‘em all along that Detroit was the best place to have a World Congress and you helped prove us right.”

Tom Kern, executive vice president, ITS, added, “The key for our success in Detroit was the support of the automakers, universities, civic leaders and regional members.”

Cobo saw a 65 percent increase in the number of summer events, this with 26 shows in 2013 from June through August, and 65 shows in 2014 during the same period. Operations also realized year over year revenue gains in Internet sales: 55 percent; food and beverage commission: 56 percent; rent: 14 percent and parking: 38 percent. The overall total revenue increase was 34 percent this year, compared with 2013.

“The transformation of Cobo Center is palpable, and the new high tech event spaces are bringing excitement to the shows,” Connors said. “Add to that the fact that Detroit has once again become a strong destination due to regional member populations for engineering, manufacturing, automotive and medical shows, and you create an environment for shows in these sectors to flourish.”

And that’s not all; Detroit and the Cobo Center are on tap to host the American Society of Association Executives which will bring more than 5,000 attendees to the city next summer for the organization’s annual meeting. For more information, please visit:

Bill Bohde, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Detroit Metro CVB, said about ASAE’s annual event, “It’s known as the Super Bowl for the (meetings) industry. We’re ready to put on quite a show."

Follow #asae15 on Twitter for updates!

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