We’ll be absorbing the lessons from the ASAE 2015 Annual Meeting and Expo for months. We recently interviewed Renee Lewis, CMP, executive director of the event’s Detroit Local Organizing Committee, for a story for our upcoming issue. During that interview, she shared insights and interesting facts from the event.

The committee’s goal was to attract 2,500 association executives to the event; more than 2,800 attended. It will likely take three to five years to see the impact from those numbers, as those executives in turn book their own events in metro Detroit.

“I think the vast majority of people who came went away thinking something different about Detroit, something positive,” Lewis told us. “That was the biggest success…because perception is a very hard thing to change.

“You can’t run from who you are,” she adds. “Perception is reality and there are a lot of challenges in the city, as there are in any big city. What makes Detroit so interesting is the way in which the people who have stuck it out, as well as new people who’ve come, have helped find unique solutions to problems that seem unsurmountable…People who came to ASAE saw all that.”

Wondering what outsiders were most interested in doing while they were here? Attendees had several tour options to choose from; here are the two that sold out the fastest:        

  • “Fresh and Flavorful: Wheel Your Way through Detroit,” a Saturday bike tour along the Riverwalk to Rivard Plaza, then to Eastern Market via the Dequindre Cut. At the market participants could shop and enjoy a tasting at Salt and Cedar.
  • “Bootleggers & All That Jazz,” which highlighted Detroit’s history during Prohibition, when 75 percent of illegal alcohol came over the Canada/Detroit border. The tour stopped for tastings at breweries and distilleries and included live jazz.

ASAE and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau conducted an exit survey of attendees; results should be available this fall. We can’t wait to read the results. 

Cowboys aren't known for sitting around, and the American Cancer Society’s annual Cattle Baron’s Ball aims to keep its attendees on its feet. 

The ball, held Sept. 24 at Cobo Center, drew 700 attendees and raised $1 million to support the society’s mission. It featured a strolling supper with local celebrity chefs making their signature item; a live auction; and entertainment. The event, though open to the public, is primarily a corporate fundraiser that draws its support from sponsorships. 


Meeting Professionals International, the official sponsor of Smart Monday, has added five new programs to the inaugural day of IMEX America.

Paws for a Break

MPI is teaming up with Love Dog Adventures—a Las Vegas animal-assisted therapy program. Designed as a stress-reducing activity, several dogs will be present during Smart Monday for attendees to cuddle with. These puppy sessions are quickly becoming a hot new trend and have been featured in a number of World Education Congresses. Puppy Cuddling is sponsored by Visit Norfolk.