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The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) board of directors’ authorized a three-year extension to the SMG management agreement of Cobo Center on Sept. 12. DRCFA operates the convention center.

“SMG sincerely appreciates this vote of confidence,” said Wes Wesley, president and CEO, SMG. “We are proud to be a part of the team to reorganize and renovate Cobo Center.”

Originally signed in 2010, the new extension allows SMG to continue management services from Sept. 30, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2016.

“As we near the conclusion of SMG’s three-year management agreement term, there have been significant achievements to improve Cobo Center’s performance,” said Patrick Bero, CEO and CFO, DRCFA.

The improvements include:

  • Operating revenue, excluding the state operating subsidy and parking revenue, has increased 52.7 percent.
  • During the same three-year period, operating expenses have decreased by 11.9 percent while simultaneously absorbing numerous administrative functions that were previously provided by support department of the City of Detroit.
  • Building maintenance and efficiency have improved.
  • Employee supervision and training have been expanded resulting in recognizable improvements in the quality of guest service and rising customer satisfaction scores.
  • Coordinated advertising, sales and promotional efforts with the DMCVB highlighting the Cobo Center capital, operations and service improvements combined with the leveraging of the SMG brand has resulted in a substantial turnaround in the perception of Cobo Center within the convention, tradeshow and meeting industry.
  • SMG’s management of customer relationships, attention to detail and determination to exceed customer expectations have been major contributing factors toward the retention of existing business (NAIAS, SAE), the recapture of lost business (SME) and the forging of new relationships that we hope will product significant value for the city, region and state in the years to come (Veterans, Military, Medical and ASAE).

“The Cobo team has accomplished a good deal in a short period of time, most significantly with the multi-year auto show agreement,” said Thom Connors, regional vice president and general manager, SMG and Cobo Center. “Now we are seeing an increase in convention bookings in response to the amazing improvements that have been made with the facility as well as in the way business is conducted at Cobo.”

In September 2010, the DRCFA embarked on a renovation of Cobo Center. On Sept. 7, 2013, the new Grand Riverview Ballroom and Atrium opened for business, representing $115 million of the entire $279 million capital improvements project, set to be completed in 2015. The final phases of the Cobo Center transformation will include a TV broadcast studio with satellite uplink capability; giant exterior video walls for event information and advertising; a Scala wayfinding system; an open-air terrace overlooking the river for events; and community programming.

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