The convention and visitors bureau also sweetens the pot. Transportation to and from the airport or around town, as well as hotel costs, can be subsidized. Complimentary floor space at Cobo also is offered.
"We have brought boards in here and put them up in hotels, wined and dined them, took them to ball games," said Bohde. "Most major destinations do something like this."
It's also cheaper to party in Detroit. For the American Society of Association Executives, hotel room savings are up to 15 percent over previous host cities, Graham said.
With fewer people living and working in Detroit there is a lot of shoulder room on sidewalks and more than enough uncongested streets.
"I would prefer Detroit above Chicago for ease of access," said Dave Breslin, Great Lakes sales executive for Alabama-based AngelTrax. "In Chicago, traffic is a nightmare. I've done Portland, Providence. I would say Detroit is as good as any major city. It's unfortunate what's going on now."
AngelTrax sells mobile surveillance equipment for buses, ambulances and police cars. It was an exhibitor at a two-day summer conference at Cobo. Changes still are needed, especially when it comes to union rules at the convention center, Breslin added.
He said exhibitors had to pay $140 to have props and other equipment carried in and out of Cobo.
"I was surprised in the lower parking garage there were two people to handle the parking: one to hand you the ticket and one to push the button to open the gate. I said 'no wonder they are broke,'" Breslin said.
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