Despite the recession, professional attendance at healthcare meetings grew 1 percent in 2008 over the previous year, according to the Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association’s 2009 State of the Industry Report and Market Trend Watch.

The report, which analyzes data from over 24,000 healthcare meetings in the United States, also found that the number of healthcare exhibits increased 2 percent in 2008 over 2007. Net square footage, however, decreased 2 percent last year. Some planners have said that exhibitors aren’t pulling booths, but they are reducing their size in this economic downturn.

On attendance, there were some interesting trends related to national and state meetings. Professional attendance at national healthcare meetings rose 5 percent in 2008. In contrast, state meetings reported a 4 percent decline in professional attendance last year.

“The convention marketing mix remains vitally important to overall strategic marketing objectives, even through the changes of the past year,” said Eric Allen, executive vice president at HCEA, in a press release.

Healthcare meetings represent about 24 percent of all meetings in the United States, making it the largest single segment. For more information on the report findings, visit www.HCEA.org.