Claude Molinari named Visit Detroit President & CEO

Claude Molinari, general manager of Huntington Place, has been named president and CEO of Visit Detroit, effective January 1, 2021. He will succeed current president and CEO Larry Alexander who is retiring at year end after 22 years at the helm of Visit Detroit.

In his new role, Molinari will be responsible for developing the strategic direction and overseeing the operations of Visit Detroit. He will provide the leadership and direction necessary to enable Visit Detroit to bring meetings and conventions, leisure and business visitors to metropolitan Detroit and accelerate economic growth. He will lead the creation of the annual sales and marketing plan of Visit Detroit which outlines the direction Visit Detroit will take to attract tourism and meetings business to the region.
Molinari will also oversee the direction of the Detroit Sports Commission (a Visit Detroit subsidiary) which is responsible for securing amateur sports for the region.

In his current role at Huntington Place, Molinari is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation and also business development of the 17th largest convention center in North America. His responsibilities include developing a budget, forecasting and financing, and implementing safety, security and crisis management programs for the center. He negotiates with local trade unions, develops business contingency, facility safety and emergency plans, and assures that annual budget goals are achieved.
According to the search committee assigned to identify a new CEO, there were 14 strong candidates from across the U.S. that applied for the position.

“Claude is uniquely positioned to accept this new role,” said Christina Lovio-George, chairman of the search committee and Visit Detroit board member. “He knows Visit Detroit business, he understands the role of tourism, meetings and conventions as an economic driver in the region, and he intimately understands the challenges the tourism and hospitality industry are facing now as it deals with the impact of Covid 19.”

Lovio-George added as a side note that Visit Detroit will be 125 years old in 2021 and Molinari will be the 10th person in the CEO seat.

Molinari’s history at Huntington Place began when it was the former Cobo Center. There he served as assistant general manager from 2011-2016 with oversight of operations, security, events and production services and union labor services. He was named general manager in March, 2016 by SMG/ASM Global and during that time forged a strong partnership between Visit Detroit and the Huntington Place operation.

“Looking toward the future, Claude’s deep understanding of the vital role the Huntington Place plays in the overall economic health of the entire Detroit region will be invaluable as the partnership grows to new levels,” said Larry Alexander, who is retaining his position as chairman of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority.

Molinari currently serves on the board of directors for Visit Detroit and the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. He is a member of the International Association of Venue Managers, International Association of Events and Exhibitions. He is a USA Hockey official, Level III certified and selected to referee state and national playoff tournaments. He resides with his wife in Northville, Michigan.

Visit Detroit is the only organization that promotes metro Detroit regionally, nationally and internationally as a convention, business meeting and tourism destination.

To achieve this goal of soliciting and servicing the area’s second-largest industry, Visit Detroit works with the Detroit and Windsor area business community, civic organizations and local government offices in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Visit Detroit is neither a branch of any government nor a charitable foundation. It is an independent, nonprofit economic development organization

Visit Detroit is a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to market and sell the metropolitan Detroit area on a worldwide basis as a destination for leisure and business travel including conventions, trade shows, corporate meetings, tours and incentive travel to maximize additional visitors, visitor expenditures, state and local tax revenues and job opportunities.

More than 700 businesses are represented in Visit Detroit’s membership. Visit Detroit was founded in 1896 as the world’s first convention and visitors bureau.


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