[Editor’s Note: This story originally appears on Folio: sister publication Expo Magazine‘s website.]

New York—Through the end of 2011, the tradeshow industry performed better than the U.S. economy in general, beating even an industry-affiliated organization’s forecast for the year. What’s more, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) anticipates even stronger growth in the industry in 2012 and the years to come.

Those conclusions and other more detailed findings were part of the CEIR Index Report, both an analysis of the exhibition industry and a forecast of future performance, released Sept. 13 at the CEIR Predict conference in New York.

“We’ve now had eight consecutive quarters of growth,” says CEIR President Doug Ducate.

The CEIR index, which takes into account net square footage, attendance, number of exhibitors and revenue, found that the industry grew by 2.7 percent in 2011 (beating CEIR’s forecast from a year earlier of 2.4 percent). Attendance was the indicator that saw the largest jump, from 2.4 percent in 2010 to 3.4 percent last year.

“And we were up 4.3 percent in professional attendance in the first half of 2012,” Ducate says. “That should bode well going into 2013.”

CEIR also forecasts that the industry will end 2012 with 2.9 percent overall growth across the board, and even stronger growth is predicted in coming years (3.2 percent in 2013 and 3.4 percent in 2014).

Shows in some industry sector saw particularly strong growth in 2011. Among them were business-related exhibitions, including those involving machinery (11.2 percent overall); communication and information technology (8.1 percent); and transportation (5.7 percent).

Continuing to lag furthest behind other sectors was that with shows involving building, construction and real estate (which experienced a 5.3-percent decline in 2011).

Nevertheless, players in that sector expressed guarded optimism. “Up is better than down,” said Frank Anton, vice chairman of Hanley-Wood, during the CEIR Predict conference. Hanley-Wood owns a number of exhibitions and editorial products in the construction and building sectors.