This best-of-show story is less about overcoming a challenge and more about capitalizing on an opportunity. WasteExpo turned the big 5-0 this year! And how do you make your golden anniversary epic for your attendees, exhibitors and the industry as a whole?

You rock it like it’s 1968! Well, you also make it less about you and more about your hard-working and close-knit audience! You invite them to come and celebrate how far the industry has come with you. You also work together as a team and make the entire campaign and the pre-show and onsite experience unforgettable. You use this milestone to surprise and delight your customers.


Check out some of the stats that showed how much this worked and resonated with our audience…

  • WasteExpo had record-breaking attendance (exhibit hall reg was up 38% and overall reg was up 19%; attendee reg revenue was up nearly 20%!)
  • The 2018 show sold a record amount of square footage (we increased sq. footage by nearly 10%!)
  • Sponsorship sales goals increased 27%
  • Site views soared through the roof (also record-breaking!) on our year-round news/content site, waste360.com with nearly 400,000 views in April (a 26% increase over the show month YOY)
  • Social media engagement, interest and activity was the highest it has ever been
    • Facebook engagement was up 74%
    • Instagram impressions were up 90%
    • Twitter impressions and profile visits were up 66% and 74% respectively


We triggered emotions and tapped into nostalgia with a vintage campaign that kicked off a year in advance to create buzz and get folks excited about our 50th! This was an integrated, multi-channel approach. We used email, print, digital, sales support, video, social media, content marketing and more.

In order to make this effort succeed, it required the work of our entire Waste360 team. From marketing and editorial to sales and operations. To illustrate just one example of how that worked, take a look at our “50 Years in the Making” contest.

We rolled out this contest to engage our audience and ask them to share their favorite memories of the industry and/or their first WasteExpo experience. User-generated content that’s genuine is a treasure trove. The responses were thoughtful, endearing and showed just how much these waste and recycling professionals care about this industry. So, marketing launched the idea and promoted it. From there, editorial used the content in both print and online articles, sales used it as another content opportunity to involve exhibitors and sell prospective sponsorships. Finally, ops and marketing found great ways to display the content/memories from this effort onsite at the show. This also gave attendees and exhibitors talking points at the show and brought them closer together.

What innovative practices, customer service and/or networking environments occurred to make it the best show ever? 

There were other ways that attendees and exhibitors could experience our best show yet and the 50th anniversary excitement. We had “throwback” directory pricing to give more exhibitors than ever the opportunity to have an ad and additional exposure in our show directory. We also added two content articles to the directory to give it longer shelf life while celebrating the last 50 years in the industry. The articles were the “50 years in the making” memories and a story about the first-ever WasteExpo back in 1968.

We also invited attendees and exhibitors to join us in our Waste360 booth on the show floor. It was bursting with our theme, tie dyed swag bags, photo booth and daily coffee and snack breaks. People appreciated a place where they could grab a bite, charge their devices, chat, network, and snap pictures of their crew in our photo booth. (photo below)


Some exhibitors even got in on the theme! One exhibitor changed his logo to be a 60s theme and their entire booth presence was magnified by 60s-themed experiences. Others had Beatles cover bands, go-go girl greeters and throwback photos galore.

We also incorporated the theme into our conference program by bringing together a group of experts who could speak to the future as well as the past. Attendees enjoyed a “Family Affair” Spotlight Session that was a nod to family businesses then and now. It added to the celebration of the industry and tied it all together for our attendees.

We also did a digital timeline on Waste360.com to show the main events that have made up the last 50 years in the waste and recycling industry. Our social media throughout the year and onsite was buzzing with exhibitors, attendees and other industry stakeholders who got in on the theme and celebration.

The whole experience seemed to bring together our entire audience and our team! Not only was it an absolute blast from day one until show time, but we also learned a lot about the origin stories of many of our exhibitors. There was such high energy at this show (and even before we got there), it was as if our groovy vibe rubbed off on everyone and it was meant to be our (and our customers’) best show yet.

Other than our amazing results that I shared earlier, this overall 50th strategy seemed to pay off in terms of space draw for 2019, sponsorship potential, increased survey response rates and attendee loyalty. 

Did you initiate an “out of the box” idea? 

A wow moment for our attendees and exhibitors was our 50th anniversary themed welcome reception. The excitement of the 50th was clearly felt as we locked in a sponsor for the party well in advance. From tie-dyed themed tickets, groovy messaging and a full-blown 60’s theme, the party was EPIC! We had everything from light-up peace sign rings/necklace (bling!), tie-dye t-shirts worn by the venue staff and given to attendees, a color-changing signature cocktail, industry memories running on the video screens, a 60s-themed photo booth, pool floats and so much more! (oh and did we mention vintage cookies and tie-dyed rice krispy treat desserts?)  The scene was set for an outrageous time and we delivered!  Our sponsor is ready to lock in the for the 2019 welcome reception and attendees are still raving about it! Groovy indeed!

Enjoy pictures below:






These videos will give you a feel for it:

WasteExpo’s 50th hype video


50 years in the making

Benefits of 50th anniversary sponsorships


Show Details

Location of Show:
Las Vegas, NV

Date of Show:
April 23-26, 2018

Number of attendees:
14,000+ participants

Number of exhibitors:

Size of showfloor in net sq. footage:

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Phone: +1 262 782 1900

Fax: +1 603 372 5894


Arlene Shows




Rachel Wimberly