Detroit’s Cobo Center Launches Technology Department, Expands Event Host Ad Revenue


Rounding out its $279 million renovation, Cobo Center in downtown Detroit has launched a Technology Services department that now provides attendees, exhibitors, and show management with various technology offerings supported by the facility’s new in-house team.

The renovation included a new fiber network that powers two permanently installed digital signs on Cobo Center’s exterior, as well as numerous other offerings. The larger sign, located above the main entrance along Washington Boulevard, can be used for event information, branding, and sponsorships, while a smaller sign at the corner of Washington and Congress can be used for advertising. In turn, more than 100 digital message boards were added outside of each meeting room, ballroom, and exhibit hall.

Claude Molinari, general manager of SMG/Cobo Center (SMG is a private management services firm), says the creation of Cobo Center Technology Services is part of a larger overall plan designed to enhance customer experiences.

“In our first year of digital signage operation, Cobo Center generated more than $800,000 in advertising revenue (for event hosts, with Cobo taking a small commission),” he says. “Our customers quickly caught on to the fact that these signs can create substantial revenue streams.”

In turn, Cobo Center will soon increase the bandwidth of its facility, which can be upgraded to 10G service depending on the needs of an event.

Other technology enhancements include: a free facility app that can be used with event apps, recent cell tower upgrades with all providers, online event service ordering, and the addition of furniture with outlets.

With 723,000 square feet of exhibit space, Cobo Center is the 17th largest convention center in the country. The North American International Auto Show, the center’s largest annual event, reached its peak Wi-Fi usage last year during Press Days at 14,640 unique users, an increase of 62 percent from the previous year.