The Next Event Hot Spot?
Larry Alexander is on a mission to change the image of Detroit.
Its city government is going through bankruptcy and there are images of burned out buildings. But Larry, CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau for the last 15 years, says the city is full of entertainment and venues for big meetings. We snapped him in Washington this week, drumming up support. ASAE decided two years ago it would bring over 6,000 of its members to the city next year for its annual convention. Larry's marketing tour will also include New York and possibly Chicago.
Larry’s big selling point is the under-construction $279M convention center that’ll be ready next June. It’ll have 200k square feet of exhibition space, two 16k square foot junior ballrooms, a 40k square foot grand ballroom, and a 30k square foot atrium overlooking the Detroit River and Ontario. Last year, the city hosted four major groups, this year it’s 14, and Larry says 16 have already been planned for next year. One of the biggest will be in 2020, when Alcoholics Anonymous has its annual meeting with 65,000 people.
Detroit gets 14 million visitors annually, spending $6B on hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. It competes with Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and St. Louis, but Larry says there’s also non-traditional competition. The International Intelligent Transportation Systems of America is holding its next meetings in Japan, Singapore, and France, and sandwiched in there is one in Detroit. When ASAE members descend, the city will roll out the red carpet, with an opening night reception at the Henry Ford Indoor/Outdoor Historical Complex and city-wide, pop-up entertainment.