Auto show shift creates January slump, but Detroit businesses have high hopes for June

The event was being wooed by Chicago and other auto shows, “so we were thrilled to keep them here in Detroit,” Molinari said.

The Detroit Economic Club was also on hand at the Detroit convention center Monday, and the Detroit Boat Show is moving in ahead of its Jan. 18-26 run, he said. “The boat show is typically in February, but when the auto show vacated (its) dates, the boat show was thrilled to jump in and get an earlier start on (its) big selling season,” Molinari said.

And Autorama moved up in February this year, he said.

Still, he projects adjustments for the auto show’s new date could have an estimated impact of about $500,000 on TCF’s bottom line this year.

To accommodate the auto show’s move to June, TCF renegotiated with the National Association of Surface Finishers to move its event to July. And it refunded the American Specialty Toy Retail Association’s money and gave it a little extra for its troubles to get out of that contract, Molinari said. The event has moved to Orlando.

He estimates TCF Center lost about $100,000 on that event, and the loss of 53 move-in and installation days in connection with the auto show will add up to the loss of about $400,000 in rent.

“This will definitely be a transition year, but we’re anticipating that in the future we’ll certainly be able to add another large event into the spring dates” that are currently open as a result of the reshuffling.

Despite the hardships the move has caused, it’s also opened up opportunities.

Companies like Production Plus and experiential marketing firm George P. Johnson in Auburn Hills have been able to increase their presence at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

CES, which in the past has taken place the week before NAIAS, cut into the auto show’s client base over the past decade as automakers and suppliers increasingly integrate consumer technology into vehicles. CES kept its customary dates, wrapping up last week.

“Our clients have continued to participate in other experiential events,” said Craig Erlich, general manager of the Auburn Hills and Nashville operations and executive vice president at experiential marketing firm George P. Johnson. “This year has been bigger than any other year in clients participating at CES. It didn’t replace NAIAS in terms of staffing and operations, but it significantly filled that hole we would have experienced otherwise.”


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