Conferon Rebuffs Brookings Report on Trade Show Attendance

Twinsburg, Ohio -- The health of conventions and trade shows is more robust than the dismal diagnosis of a controversial Brookings Institution report, according to a new study by the giant meeting-planning company, Conferon Global Services (CGS).

Year-over-year attendance for more than 200 events held annually grew an average of 2.2 percent and 2.7 percent in 2003 and 2004, respectively, according to a CGS report issued Monday.

Attendance for events held in the first quarter increased an average 4.2 percent over the first quarter of last year, CGS also reported.

"Events in the CGS Trade Show/Convention Attendance Index represent a wide cross-section of industries," said company president Bruce Harris. "There are clearly identifiable growth sectors as well as market segments that have struggled, but the breadth of the entire sample offers an accurate snapshot of heightened trade show and convention attendance."

As have other industry figures, Harris criticized the Brookings report, which drew upon the top 200 trade shows as tracked by Tradeshow Week magazine.

"Benchmarking attendance figures from the economy's high point in 1999 to the low point during the recession, which included the aftermath of 9/11, presents a skewed picture of industry trends," said Harris, referring to the Brookings report. "The 2002 to 2005 attendance history gives a better picture of what the short-term future holds for us."

The events surveyed in the CGS report are managed at least in part by the company, whose services include venue site selection, on-site management, housing, event registration, and lead retrieval. CGS manages more than 2,500 events annually.

The findings released Monday represent the first CGS Trade Show/Convention Attendance Index report. CGS in April reported aggregated attendance figures from 2002 to 2004. Harris said CGS will issue reports quarterly.