An increasing number of businesses around the world are recognising the value in marketing their activities via trade shows, exhibitions and events. They understand the potential, in terms of generating new leads, networking with industry contacts, and learning about new technologies, techniques and processes from industry thought leaders.

As such, it should come as little surprise to see continued growth in the exhibitions sector, particularly with the economy on an upwards curve. More businesses are choosing to allocate funds to this form of marketing, as they aim to generate interest in their goods and services and improve their brand positioning.

According to the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the exhibition industry expanded by 1.8 per cent during 2014 - one percentage point up on the previous year's growth rate. This recorded growth rate was just below the CEIR's original 2.0 per cent growth forecast for 2014, but it still represents a good performance for the sector.

The CEIR Index measures year-over-year changes in four key metrics, in a bid to determine overall performance within the exhibitions industry.These are 'Net Square Feet of Exhibit Space Sold', 'Professional Attendance', 'Number of Exhibiting Companies' and 'Gross Revenue'. These metrics revealed an industry which continues to head in the right direction.

In 2014, the best performing segments of the exhibitions sector were found to be 'finance, legal and real estate' and 'building, construction and home repairs'. But trade shows and exhibitions are thriving across a wide variety of sectors, as businesses invest in more engaging displays - often using interactive materials - and consumers come along to learn more about the goods and services they are contemplating buying.

The signs are that the exhibitions sector will remain on an upward curve over the next three years, with further economic growth predicted and both business and consumer confidence expected to rise. CEIR envisages continued growth over the next three years, with a 2.8 per cent increase predicted in 2015, followed by 2.4 per cent growth next year and 2.0 per cent in 2017.

People of all ages are attending exhibitions in 2015, helping to support growth within the sector. But as a previous CIER report indicated, an increasing number of young people are coming along. And this only bodes well for the future of the marketing channel.

CIER's study offered insight into the views of young exhibitors who attend business to business exhibitions. The organisation found that 98 per cent of young exhibitors find these events deliver "unique value" that cannot be fulfilled by other marketing or sales channels. More than seven out of ten respondents said they view the channel as being a medium to accomplish "multiple important marketing and sales objectives".

With young people so positive about exhibitions, and their potential to add business value, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the industry.