“Reach 400,000 viewers by 2022” (Jean-Baptiste Desbois, CEO)

La Tribune – La C ডিte d’Alospace, located in Toulouse, is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Is this cultural site more than five hectares wide at its top or is it the beginning of a great adventure?

Gene-Baptist Desbois – Cité de l’Espace is in full swing and experiencing a great development! Great things are yet to come. Its 25 years is just a stage.

It is true that its presence has been increasing in recent years, if we keep the health crisis at bay. It is the second most visited tourist destination in Toulouse before St. Basin’s Basilica. How do you explain this growing popularity?

The period of health crisis was not easy and we pulled together to overcome it. Despite all that, in 2021, which was cut short by a four-month administrative shutdown due to health reasons, we welcomed 275,000 visitors. This is a very nice surprise. In the last months of the year, we returned to the 2019 visitor level We are the largest site in Europe with this theme and we are in the top 5 worldwide

To achieve these results, since I arrived in the City de l’Space eleven years ago, we have implemented three areas of development. First, our fervent desire is to stay as close as possible to the space news on our offer and thus celebrate the great moments of space. Then, for us, the purpose is to find and stimulate everyone’s curiosity. Yes, space is science and geopolitics, but so is history, tradition and culture. Anyone can be interested to come see us. Ultimately, our ambition is content, which can sometimes seem complicated and to connect the general public. This requires popularization and mediation. Cité de l’Espace is basically a place to popularize space and science.

In early June, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet came to share his experience with the general public after two trips to the International Space Station (credit: Remy Benoit).

What are your decision-making processes to make space knowledge accessible to as many people as possible?

Depending on the exhibition and the subject, we use immersion or even interactivity. For example, with an interactive activity of about 30 minutes, we are currently showing our viewers how to recruit future astronauts for a partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). Currently, the company is in the midst of a recruitment drive for its future astronauts We also use meditation through the IMAX room or planetarium, not forgetting the astronaut Coppola that allows us to observe the sky and the stars.

These replicas of the spacecraft orbit the Cité de l’Espace in a unique Martian atmosphere.

Recently, we inaugurated our Mars Floor which gives visitors an immersion to look like Mars. This is directly related to the news because there are currently several robotic missions on the Red Planet and this will definitely be the next human phase after the moon …

Space City

Jean-Baptiste Desbois is the General Manager of Cité de l’Espace, employing 130 people on a daily basis for eleven years (Credit: Rémi Benoit).

In this regard, Cité de l’Espace and its partners have decided to invest 14 million euros in the LunExplorer project aimed at taking visitors to lunar travel. Isn’t this an important step for a museum that has never had so much immersed equipment for the public?

Cité de l’Espace wants to emulate the thrill of traveling to the moon

It is a project managed under the project management of Toulouse Metropol. This is a project that has been planned by Cité de l’Espace for some time, we are waiting for the ideal moment and the funds to make it happen. It will be an immersive and sensitive experience. To understand, you need to know that there are plans to build a space station near the moon and then make regular trips between it and the lunar soil.

For LunExplorer, we decided to convert a facility more than 20 years old and build a building nearby. This experience will tell how we went to the moon and how people want to go back there at a certain time. Following these explanations, the public will enter the capsule in groups of four that will allow them to feel the sensation of landing on the moon. After this attraction, we will explain the reason for their next lunar mission.

Work is underway and we should launch this new offer in July 2023. In addition, according to our research, we expect an additional 30,000 to 40,000 visitors each year.

What are these flagship projects for Cité de l’Espace?

LunExplorer is a very big brick for us. We have a few projects in the pipeline but it’s too early to talk about them.

Space City

In 2021, in a short year, Cité de l’Espace received about 300,000 visitors (Credit: Rémi Benoit)

So how would you like to increase your presence at the museum in the image that this new experience will contribute?

Today, our attendance is 75% family, 15% school and 10% BtoB. In terms of geographical origin, 40% are Occitan visitors, 40% are French visitors outside Occitania and the rest are foreigners. And our growth in presence, especially in these last two sections of the public.

To increase our presence, we have significantly modified our communication strategies, especially on social networks. Then, for the first time in the history of Cité de l’Espace, we conduct a poster campaign on the Paris Metro, at the Montparnasse Station, and at the Paris Opera. For us, this communication at the national level is completely new. But now, Cité de l’Espace has a notoriety for carrying out such an operation.

We expect to cross the milestone of 400,000 visitors in 2022, otherwise it will be in 2023.

Space City

(Credit: Remy Benoit).

The French face high inflation and can start with certain preferences of the holiday consumer preferences and thus undermine the motives of your presence. What is the price policy of Cité de l’Espace in this economic context?

We have an average size of a site of equivalent size, with the difference we offer ourselves a content that allows you to stay with us all day. But still we have been developing adaptive offers for some time, such as tribal prices for families, five euros on the second day or annual passes that are abandoned from the second visit. In addition, we have not changed our prices for schoolchildren for several years and despite the inflation we will not increase our prices for the general public in 2022 which is affecting us as well.