Mood swing in Orlando: This year, deals are everywhere

A lifetime ago -- like, way back in the bad old times of early 2010 -- you could have shot a cannon down one side of the Orange County Convention Center and not hit a soul.

This convention's last trip to Orlando was a wake. Deals were being made, but with admittedly hushed tones. General Motors wasn’t here. And nearly 20 percent of the convention space went unused.

This weekend the message is clear: Dealerships are open for business. And people are buying in style.

"The question isn't, 'What are you buying?'" said Lynn Thompson, a Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealer in Springfield, Mo. "The question is, 'How much are you buying?'"

And buying was everywhere. From the Hickory, N.C., dealer at the Reynolds and Reynolds stand who spent time learning about Reynolds’ new CRM system to the dealer from Athens, Ga., who was given a personal tour of’s Web site, deals are being made.

The 500 companies that have space this year (NADA says there was a waiting list at least 50 deep) delivered in style.

ADP’s space stretched from here to Miami. Dealertrack’s exhibit was the size of Epcot Center. And Reynolds filled its space with an army of 200 salespeople.

With attendance topping 21,000 this year -- up from 15,000 in 2010, the last time we were here -- the barometer is clear.

The industry is open for business. What, and how much, are you buying?