- Passion and community intersect for success
- Much more than a comeback
- The rebirth of a city
Bill Bohde, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB), has never been so honored to represent a destination like Detroit. “Our citizens are proud of where they live and are hopeful. Street lights are being turned back on and our city services are at their best of all time… from our new mayor to high-profile business executives, everyone is committed to a healthy and prosperous Detroit.”
LaDonna Pettit, Director of Conferences, Stone Fort Group, held an event in Detroit in 2014 and by popular demand will return to Detroit in 2015. The event, NACE | CARS 2015, is produced for the Automotive Service Association (ASA). It encompasses more than 6,500 attendees and takes place over four days, including two days of exhibits.
Pettit shared that there was nervousness about the location initially, “We shared what we had learned about Detroit and what we had experienced during each visit to Detroit… I personally found it ironic that what I experienced in Detroit and what I heard from the national media were two very different things. It was our mission to share the good we found in Detroit in as many marketing channels as possible and it worked. It was almost as if we saw a paradigm shift in our own exhibitors, sponsors and registered attendees.” Fortunately, through the relationships and delivery with their Detroit partners they were able to not just meet expectations, but delight their attendees.
Pettit found that the Cobo Center team, along with the Meet Detroit staff, became an extension of their team. “Often times in our industry you hear the saying, ‘anticipate the client’s needs.’ The Cobo staff, and the Meet Detroit staff, exemplified this during the planning and execution of the entire event. Our event has requirements that not all cities and centers can meet. The Cobo staff worked with us, the city, the fire marshal and all the other local entities involved to ensure our Expo Demos were successful.”
Why Detroit? Holton shared their perspective, “SME chose Detroit for several reasons. The natural connection is to the manufacturing industry. We were excited to experience the new Cobo Center facilities. SME holds 20+ major tradeshows and events across North America and in the past hosted four events per year in Detroit. THE BIG M marked a return for us after a 10 year absence - strongly motivated by the changes at Cobo Center... we were pleased with our experience and are planning to return with this event and potentially others on an annual basis.”
Happy Surprises For Attendees
Holton received the kind of feedback from her attendees that all planners strive to achieve. “One landmark moment for us was during the reception prior to our International Awards Gala at the new Riverfront Ballroom at Cobo Center. The glass atrium provides a breathtaking view of the riverfront,” said Holton. “Our attendees continued to remark on how beautiful the river was, how many people were active downtown and how great it was to see the city back in action again.”
Planners are happily experiencing services and amenities that suppliers are providing, as Pettit witnessed. “The hotels were so supportive in many ways. We asked a lot of the hotels and they were there to meet our challenges and rolled out the red carpet for our group,” said Pettit. “We did not have one single hotel complaint in Detroit! It’s true and it’s incredible! It’s a very strong hotel community that understands the significance of a city-wide convention and how it supports the entire community.”
When faced with challenges and adversity, the city of Detroit is reminiscent of many great American success stories, with heroes and heroines found in its citizens and leaders. It is clear Detroit is making the term comeback seem rather conservative and is well on its way to being much more. Perhaps Pettit’s sentiment shares it best, “The city embraced us, as did the residents and local businesses. It was clear we were in a city that was re-born.”