Success Story: Portable Sanitation Association International 

Many elements must come together to create a successful annual convention. One great template for success is the approach taken by the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI). The association has seen 20 percent growth in attendance year over year for three years; sponsorship and exhibitor revenue has also increased along that trajectory. Executive Director Veronica Crosier reflected on the success. 

Compelling Content 

Listening to members who have attended the Convention and Trade Show for many years, Veronica and the planning committee decided to offer a more diverse set of experiences for conference education and networking. Of course, the niche knowledge is a big part of why associations host events. But, Veronica said, “sometimes you miss other opportunities or can get a little narrow on the scope of what your audience needs or what could contribute to their professional development.” 

So PSAI brought in a keynote speaker to talk about mental health and another keynote on artificial intelligence — relevant topics for just about any business. “The folks that have been in operation for two decades are still coming away with something that can contribute to their business rather than just the fundamentals or rehashing the same best practices over and over,” Veronica said. “People appreciated that fresh perspective and a mix of topics and just having very professional speakers.” 

More than 700 people attended the 2024 PSAI Convention & Trade Show, an increase of more than 200 people from the previous year  


Making it easy for people to get to your event is a very important element. The 2024 PSAI Convention & Trade Show was held in Daytona Beach, Florida. “It’s hard to find a time in Daytona when you’re not going to have sunshine and at least comfortable temperatures,” Veronica said. And there are major airline hubs in nearby cities where some attendees vacationed with family before or after the convention. For those who flew directly into Daytona Beach, it was a quick ride to get from the airport to the convention hotel.   

Promote Early, Often — and with Video 

Ewald Consulting has been helping PSAI’s planning committee for several years now. The result: most sessions and keynotes were confirmed four months prior to the event. That allowed Marketing Communication staff to build registration and promotion earlier than ever before, with plenty of time for testing before registration went live. For the first time with PSAI, our staff built a Conference Central page to make it easier for people to find the information they’re looking for quickly.  

We changed up the content for the promotional emails frequently. Some emails were long, but they always began with quick links to registration, accommodations, sponsorship, etc. Sometimes we led with information about a keynote speaker; sometimes we focused on industry-specific breakout sessions. We listed all the exhibitors once we hit critical mass. 

With help from volunteers, we had a few videos to work with. Veronica said, “this was the first time that PSAI has used paid advertising campaigns through Facebook and LinkedIn. I think we saw results from that for PSAI. I chose to invest a little bit more in some marketing materials as far as video content that we could use on those platforms. That was really eye-catching. 

“If other associations are thinking of using video but aren’t sure if they have the budget yet for a professional videography team, volunteers can be very helpful.” 

Enlist Suppliers to Promote the Event

PSAI invited some of its exhibitors and suppliers to create 10- to 30-second videos inviting people to come to the annual convention and trade show. This allowed them to plug what they were bringing to the trade show floor and say a little bit about their company. 

“It gave a free benefit to our exhibitors and our sponsors, but we’re also putting that free content out as well,” Veronica said. “And it shows that we are a community and that all of our members play a part.” 

PSAI’s supplier members promoted the association’s convention and trade show, leading to excellent attendance at the trade show and for product demos

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New 

In addition to some of the other new things mentioned above, PSAI experimented with the length of the event. What used to be a full week of meetings was pared down to three days (with the first day being filled with optional training courses plus committee meetings). People could attend just two days or even just come for the trade show. 

“I think that was beneficial in a couple of ways. One, most of our audience are folks who are running their own companies and to take a full week away from your company, from your business, is a big ask. That can be a real challenge for some folks,” Veronica said. “And then if they want to stay for some extra days to turn it into a family vacation, then they still can do that without it being too big of an absence from their work at home.” 


Veronica said it’s crucial to listen to your audience. “When it becomes a group effort and everyone takes a little ownership in it and the word spreads, the enthusiasm spreads and it really shows itself in the aftermath.” 

She continued, “just this year we’ve had almost 50 percent more sponsorship revenue than the year prior. And the year prior was a record as well. I think part of that is hearing the sponsors’ feedback and giving them the opportunities that they’re looking for.”