Now in its 23rd year, SPACE takes place this week, September 15-18. Day two of the event heard some strong sighs of relief from exhibitors.

The first day of the trade show is traditionally quiet, but opening day this year appeared to be noticeably lower in visitors. Perhaps the grey skies and rain over Brittany kept them away.

Many stands were quiet and there was a lot of twiddling of thumbs. Could news that the recession in France was over be wrong? Were we heading for a double dip? Signs for the SPACE awards scheme were prominently displayed throughout the exhibition halls, but would anybody come to see the creativity and investment that the industry had to show this year?

While some exhibitors reported the first day had been fantastic for business, others appeared resigned to the fact that opening day had been “unusually” quiet. Day two, however, allayed fears that the tremendous effort put into the event would be in vain.

I often think you can judge the success of a show by the temperature in the exhibition halls, and despite the only slightly improved weather outside, inside it was hot.


On day two, the show was noisy, on day two the stands were hard to reach, on day two it was near impossible to make an appointment. And this last point in particular is important.

At any trade show, there will always be those that simply come to look, keen for an entertaining day out. Official attendance figures are yet to be released for the show, but there is another measure that I sometimes use to judge a show’s success – how many times I’m told: “Come back tomorrow.”

As everyone knows, it’s not the number of visitors to an event that counts, but who they are, and people wanting to do business were there on day two. Day two was not a question of simply strolling up to a booth and being welcomed, it was “Come back tomorrow at 10 a.m., we can give you 15 minutes.”

This may have made my life more difficult, but it has to be a good sign.

But the volume and purpose of visitors was not the only difference between the first two days. There were visitors to the opening day of the show that most people did not want to see return on the second day.