Did you know that Lionel Richie is still performing? I did not, until I saw Aaron Wolowiec’s pic on Facebook. He was right up front at Richie’s concert at Fox Theatre – part of the American Society of Association Executives’ Annual Meeting and Exposition at Cobo Center in early August.
The gathering was referred to widely as the Super Bowl of conferences, because it brought more than 5,000 people to Detroit – many of them whose job it is to plan conferences for their respective associations. According to ASAE’s president and CEO, John Graham, the convention could result in $500 million in business for metro Detroit over the next five years. These were the kind of people we want to impress, in other words.
And we did. Which, despite that the fact that so many of us spent the conference’s few days holding our collective breath, perhaps should no longer surprise. We’re often the first to criticize ourselves and see our region’s faults – but visitors tend to find a lot to love.
Graham told the Freep that ASAE committed to the conference in 2009 (not exactly a stellar year for our region), largely on faith in Larry Alexander, the CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, and his commitment to have Cobo Center ready in time. Alexander and his team, of course, delivered on that promise.
Based on past ASAE experience, 20 percent of its attendees will book a conference in the host city within five years if it went well. It went well. So let’s get ready for the next wave of visitors.