Convention and trade show attendance is on the rise, according to new reports released separately in mid-June by Conferon Global Services, Twinsburg, Ohio, and the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, Chicago, refuting claims made by The Brookings Institution study released earlier this year, which measured attendance as of 2003.

In the first quarter of 2005, attendance increased 4.2 percent compared to the same time period in 2004, according to Conferon’s new Trade Show/Convention Attendance Index, which tracks attendance at 212 CGS client events that feature exhibit space. The client list comes from all three CGS companies--ExpoExchange, Conferon, and ITS--and includes a cross-section of industries, explains Marian Calvin, CGS spokeswoman. Over the last two years, the index shows an increase of 2.2 percent in 2003 and 2.7 percent in 2004.

The report picks up where the Brookings Institution study, which found attendance on the decline through 2003, left off. “The 2002 to 2005 attendance history gives a better picture of what the short-term future holds for us,” said Bruce Harris, president, CGS, in a press statement. “It’s an analysis CGS will continue to track and share with the industry.” CGS will release updates every quarter.

CEIR also released a mid-June report with positive signs for the trade show industry. The CEIR Index--which measures net exhibit space, number of exhibiting companies, professional attendance, and revenues--indicates increases across the board in 2004.

Starting with an index value of 100, based on 2000 data, net square footage jumped to 109.6 in 2004, up from 102.3 in 2003. Attendance and the number of exhibitors are also beyond 2000 levels. The attendance score climbed to 103.8 in 2004, up from 97.1 in 2003, while the number of exhibiting companies scored a 103.3 in 2004, up from 98.3 in 2003. The only metric that lags 2000 is revenue, which scored 97, but is up 1.7 percent from 2003. CEIR will release new Index numbers quarterly.