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Historic City, Remarkable Convention: 2017 NFDA Tradeshow Guide

Sep 26, 2017

It’s that time a year again! The beginning of the autumn always brings the usual NFDA pre-convention excitement for us here at ASD. Every year, we study the NFDA schedule and learn about the host city to provide funeral directors with a fun and informative guide to all of the seminars, events and attractions of the upcoming convention.

ASD is proud to sponsor the NFDA Convention and Expo because we recognize how vital it is to bring funeral professionals from around the globe together to interact and share ideas. Without a doubt, this event is the highlight of the year for many of us in the funeral profession. It is a truly special week that combines fun and sightseeing with informative educational sessions and networking opportunities. As the days race by, the anticipation for the 2017 convention in Boston grows stronger. With a fantastic lineup of dynamic speakers and exciting events, we know this year will not disappoint.

We understand that for many of our clients, a trip to the NFDA Convention may be the only opportunity to take a vacation. We’re here to help you prepare for your trip to make the most of your time in Beantown. Explore our list below and please share in the comments which attraction or event you are most looking forward to this year.

Your Ultimate Guide to the 2017 NFDA Convention

Enjoy Fellowship Opportunities at NFDA Events

Opening General Session
Monday, October 30, 9:45-11:45a

Celebrate the start of the convention and NFDA’s achievements over the year at the Opening General Session. It is always enlightening to hear NFDA leaders discuss recent progress and developments within our profession. The Opening General Session is also where you can listen to the first Keynote Speaker of the convention: renowned business expert and author, Dr. John C. Maxwell. We are especially looking forward to John’s keynote address as it centers around a topic we are very passionate about: communication. John will examine how to connect with and relate to others in a way that increases your influence.

“What is the greatest funeral service innovation of 2017?” This question will be answered during the Opening General Session with the announcement of the 2017 NFDA Innovation Award winner. ASD is a finalist for the award again this year and we look forward to sharing the stage with fellow innovators within the funeral service community. We’re hoping this nomination will help us to spread the word about our Suicide Telephone Operator Patch (STOP) system and the importance of suicide prevention awareness.

All-Star Recognition Ceremony
Monday, October 30, 4:30p-5:30p

Celebrate the achievements of your colleagues! This event recognizes funeral professionals who demonstrated excellent service or achieved advanced certifications from the NFDA. Congratulations to all of our amazing clients who were recognized with the Pursuit of Excellence Award this year! Thank you for all you do to support families. Special shout out to our clients at Old Bridge Funeral Home and Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes who were recognized with the “Best of the Best” award among Pursuit of Excellence recipients.

Service of Remembrance 

Tuesday, October 31, 11a-12p

Honor the memory and legacy of funeral professionals we have lost this year at the annual Service of Remembrance. This year’s service will also highlight our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage, the meaning behind various religious traditions, and the role of faith in funeral service.

Closing Party: Spirit of Boston Dinner Cruise
Wednesday, November 1, 6:30pm-9pm

All aboard! ASD is proud to be an official sponsor of this year’s end-of-convention party onboard the Spirit of Boston cruise ship. Enjoy incredible views, sip delicious cocktails and mingle with your colleagues while sailing around Boston harbor.

Learn from Convention Speakers about the Issues and Trends Impacting our Profession

The NFDA has done a fantastic job of finding knowledgeable leaders and expects to address convention attendees on a wide-range of topics. Every year, funeral professionals fill the seminar rooms and auditoriums to hear experts discuss the latest ideas and advancements impacting the funeral service community. The ASD team always takes time to attend these sessions to hear different perspectives from convention presenters. This year’s full lineup of seminars includes many interesting and insightful subjects. In fact, ASD’s own Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, will be speaking at NFDA for the first time this year!

Below are a few of the speakers and subjects that stood out to us as can’t-miss convention sessions. It’s important to remember there may be a specific topic not on this list that would be especially beneficial for your funeral home. Be sure to check the NFDA’s full lineup of convention seminars, conversation cafes and keynote speakers to decide what subjects would be most valuable for you and your funeral home staff.

Create Experiences, Gain Market Share
Speakers: Justin Baxley (Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Foundation Partners Group) and Erin Whitaker (Senior Director of Operations Integration,Foundation Partners Group)
Time: Sun, Oct. 29, 11:30a-12:30p

If you’re planning to arrive in Boston before the official convention kickoff, you won’t want to miss this session from expert thought leaders, Justin Baxley and Erin Whittaker of Foundation Partners Group. ASD has had the opportunity to hear both Justin and Erin speak at various conferences in the past and found them both to be extremely knowledgeable and engaging. In this thought-provoking session, their combined expertise will help session attendees understand how to develop a strategy for competing against low-cost providers.

Understanding Suicide and Its Effects on Grief
Speaker: Dr. Janet McCord
Time: Sun, October 29, 3:30p-4:30p

Stigmatized grief has been a topic high on everyone’s radar in recent years as there has been an increase in the number of suicides and opioid related deaths. In this session, Dr. McCord will discuss the different ways a suicide can complicate the grief process and offer practical strategies for supporting survivors of suicide.

Transforming Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma
Speakers: Beth Reynolds-Lewis (Trainer and Consultant) and Kay Glidden (Trainer and Consultant)
Time: Mon, October 30, 7:30a-9:30a

A funeral home operates on a continuous, 24-hour rotation. On a daily basis, directors must maintain complete composure despite dealing with economic, operational and emotional stress. The unique pressures of this lifestyle can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue. In this session, directors will learn practical tools and strategies to help combat these feelings by creating a self-care plan.

10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Business
Speaker: Gene Marks (Author and Owner of The Marks Group)
Time: Tues, 7:30-8:30a

Learn how to utilize new technical solutions like cloud computing, mobile apps, client relation management software and more during this information-packed session taught by Gene Marks . Gene will explain how funeral directors can improve efficiencies and drive revenues using the latest technology.

How to Make Your iPhone Work For You
Speaker: Kevin Czachor (Vice President and Family-Member Owner of ASD)
Time: Tues, 9:45a-10:45a

ASD’s Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, will be leading his own NFDA seminar for the first time this year. Bring your smartphone and learn how to create a strategy to unlock your funeral home’s mobile potential. Whether you’re an Apple loyalist, a smartphone novice or someone ready to finally toss the flip phone into the trash, you will learn something valuable from this interactive, technology-focused workshop. Kevin will take you through the multitude of mobile features, settings and apps that can help you tackle business tasks remotely and operate more efficiently with the greatest of ease.

Your Value Statement: The Key To Success in the Arrangement Conference
Speaker: Michael Watkins (The Signature Group)
Time: Wed, 8a-9a

We are very much looking forward to this session from Michael Watkins, which will focus on best communication practices to follow when arranging services with families. Michael will discuss how to bridge communication gaps with families to make sure they understand the value your firm can provide.

Developing Your Inner Champion
Time: Wednesday, 1p-2p

This much-anticipated event is sure to be the talk of the 2017 convention. Keynote Speaker and three-time Super Bowl-winning Quarterback,Troy Aikman, will share stories of his incredible career with attendees and explain how they can develop their inner champion.

Explore the Latest Innovations in the Expo Hall

With over 300 exhibitors in attendance, the NFDA Expo Hall is the ideal place to learn about all of the latest funeral home products and services. Strolling through the tradeshow floor, you can load up on free gifts, enter to win exciting prizes and discover the latest innovations created for the funeral profession. This is a great opportunity to see the latest funeral home merchandise and technology while reconnecting with your current vendors to learn what new offerings they may have added. You can visit the Expo Hall on Monday, October 30 from 12p-5p, Tuesday, October 31 from 12p-5p and Wednesday, November 1 from 9a-12p.

If you need to charge your smart phone during the show, you can head over to Booth #2535 to use ASD’s convenient cell phone charging station. While you’re there, you can visit with our Operations team to let us know if there is anything we can do to better serve your needs and customize your account.

If you’d like to see our latest technology, we’ll be holding live, interactive demonstrations of our NFDA award-winning ASD Mobile app and other technologies we’ve created to make life more convenient for directors. Our Technical Analysts, Kristine Soderland and Will Chicola, will be on hand to answer any specific questions you may have or to walk you through how to use our mobile app on your phone.

You can’t visit ASD’s booth without stopping to check out our now famous Funeral-Themed Lego Sets. We will have our popular Lego Cemetery, Lego Funeral Service and our new Lego Hearse on display. ASD will be raffling off two of these sets every day of the show. We can’t wait to find out who this year’s lucky winners will be!

In addition to all of the interesting and unique booths you’ll find in the Expo hall, this year’s NFDA offers a new way to discover the latest innovations in funeral service. For the first time this year, the convention will offer “Campfire Sessions” – short but informative gatherings that will take place right in the Expo Hall around a simulated campfire. Learn about the new NFDA Work-Life Resource program, discover new technology best practices, or gain insights on social media without ever leaving the tradeshow floor. Four sessions will be offered on Monday and Tuesday (1p, 2p, 3p & 4p) and two sessions will be offered on Wednesday (9:30a and 10:30a).

Discover the Best of Beantown

As one of the oldest metropolises in the United States, Boston has a rich history and storied past that encompasses the city’s identity. Boston is a place where preserved legacies and tributes to the past make up the very foundation on which it was built. We can’t think of a more fitting town for the world’s largest gathering of funeral professionals. Boston is also one of the most pedestrian-friendly places in the country, making it easy to sightsee in every corner of the city.

Below are some of the sights, attractions and tours you won’t want to miss as you explore the best Beantown has to offer.

Take the Boston Freedom Trail Tour

There are over 15 historic stops along this three-mile walking trail that will take you back in time through Boston’s fascinating past. A line of red bricks in the sidewalk make it easy to hop on and off this trail to see famous sights such as the Old Granary Burying Ground (where Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock are buried), Old South Meeting House (where revolutionaries met to plan the Boston Tea Party) and the Old State House (below-site of the Boston Massacre).

The Old State House in Boston

You can experience the Boston Freedom Trail with your colleagues during the convention by taking the NFDA Boston Freedom Trail Tour on Sunday, October 29, 1-4p. In addition to learning from a knowledgeable tour guide, you’ll also get to spend some time afterwards at Faneuil Hall Marketplace—a mecca for delicious food and eclectic shopping housed in a historic building dating back to 1742.

A look at the many interesting shopping vendors at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Visit Boston Common and Public Garden

The Boston Common "Frog Pond"

At the beginning of the Freedom Trail, you’ll find America’s oldest city park: Boston Common. Founded in 1634, this 50-acre park is located in the heart of the city. Its serenity is only matched by its rich history as the site served as a place for Bostonians to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act and end of the Revolutionary War. It has also traditionally served as a place for public oratory and discourse. Featuring many stunning monuments, a 24-acre Public Garden (America’s oldest botanical garden), and a lake where visitors can ride around on one of the famous Swan Boats, Boston Common is one landmark you absolutely won’t want to miss during your visit.

Get Spooked

For the first time in many years, the NFDA Convention will take place at the same time as Halloween. With the nation’s oldest graveyards, famous ghost stories and scary events, Boston is the perfect place to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve. Whether you’re looking to be frightened by a hair-raising ghost story or enjoy tamer, family-friendly activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Dark Side of Boston Tour: The NFDA invites you to join fellow attendees for some frightening fun through Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. This guided nighttime walking tour will appropriately take place on Mischief Night: Monday, October 30 from 7p-9:30p . Enjoy spine-tingling stories based on true historical events as you stroll the dark cobblestone streets and discover Boston’s darker side.

Zoo Howl: If your children will be joining you during your trip to Boston, you can surprise them with a boo-tiful day at the Franklin Park Zoo (1 Franklin Park Rd – about 20 minutes from the Convention Center). Kids will love trick or treating amongst the animals during the annual Zoo Howl event (Sat, October 28 & Sun October 29, 11a-3pm ), which includes crafts, games, costume prizes, and a corn maze. You’ll get a good laugh watching the animals at the zoo react to be being given a pumpkin (see slideshow below for a preview).

Take a Ferry to Salem: Hop on the high-speed Boston to Salem ferry to visit in the Witch Capital of the United States where Halloween is celebrated year round. See the graves of those executed during the Salem Witch Trials, learn about Salem’s sordid twisted history at the Witch Museum (19 1/2 Washington Square North, Salem), peruse spell books in one of the many themed shops in town, or take one of Salem’s famed walking tours, such as the Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour or Salem Witch Walk. The Boston to Salem ferry makes five round trips a day and takes less than an hour each way (weather permitting).

The graves of Giles Corey and Sarah Good who were killed during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692

Explore Beacon Hill

Known as the most scenic neighborhood in Boston, Beacon Hill invites you to stroll along its cobblestone and tree-lined streets to take in all that this picturesque area has to offer. Red brick houses, gas lanterns and steep, narrow streets give this area its distinct character. The neighborhood was first established in the 19th century by the first families of Boston and offers the perfect blend of historic charm and urban culture. A collection of eateries and unique shops also add to the appeal, making Beacon Hill an incredibly enchanting neighborhood to visit during your time in Boston.

Go Whale Watching

Take a high-speed catamaran out to view the ocean’s most captivating and splendid creatures. Boston Harbor Cruises (1 Long Wharf) offer tourists many opportunities to sail out to marine sanctuaries where you’ll have an opportunity to see whales, dolphins, seals and sea birds in their natural habitat. The Whale Watcher tour departs every day at 12p (weather permitting). You can also purchase a combo ticket to gain access to the New England Aquarium (1 Central Wharf) where you can view thousands of aquatic animals such as sharks, penguins and sea lions up close and personal.

Chow Down

Be sure to sample some of Boston’s signature fare during your visit. A plethora of seafood restaurants can be found anywhere you go in the city, but for our list we are focusing on a favorite New England staple: Clam Chowder. Right inside the Westin Waterfront (host hotel for the NFDA Convention), you can grab a bowl of Boston Harborfest Hall of Fame Chowder (three time winner for best Clam Chowder) at M.J. O’Connors Irish Pub (27 Columbus Ave).

If you’re up for a short stroll, head over to Barking Crab (88 Sleeper Street), about a 15-minute walk from the Convention Center. This casual waterfront restaurant is one of the city’s most beloved eating spots and is famous for it’s thick, homemade New England chowder which is served in deep paper cups. Over on the other side of town, Legal Seafoods (26 Park Plaza) has a famously flavorful Clam Chowder recipe that has been served at every Presidential Inauguration since the Reagan era, while Atlantic Fish Company (761 Boylston Street) is celebrated for serving its signature Clam Chowder in delicious bread bowls.

Unwind on The Lawn On D

Right outside of the Boston Convention Center, The Lawn on D (420 D Street) is an open green space that features many fun activities. The lawn hosts many events throughout the year including live concerts, movie screenings and sporting events. Even when no events are planned, the Lawn on D is a fun place to just hang out and enjoy food, drinks and lawn games like Ping-Pong or Jenga. We’re hoping to score a little time on one of their giant glow-in-the-dark circular swings before the lawn closes for the season on October 31st.

Enjoy A Night Out on the Town

The Boston Convention Center is located in the Seaport District, one of the city’s most burgeoning neighborhoods. Offering a vibrant and bustling energy, Boston’s Seaport district has gained a lot of popularity and momentum in recent years. The emergence of many new bars, clubs and restaurants has created the perfect atmosphere for NFDA Convention goers to experience Boston’s nightlife without having to venture too far.

Right around the corner from the Convention Center, you’ll find Laugh Boston (425 Summer Street) – an impressive stand up and improv comedy club that showcases some of today’s best comedians. Drew Lynch of America’s Got Talent will be performing October 28-29. On October 31st, the NFDA has reserved the comedy club to host the Funeral Directors Under 40 Party, which will feature a surprise local legend.

A short 10-minute walk from the Convention Center will take you to Legal Harborside (270 Northern Avenue) which doubles as both a seafood restaurant and lively nighttime hang out. Located on the waterfront, the 20,000 square foot property consists of three floors with a retractable roof. Head to the rooftop lounge on the third floor for delicious cocktails and stunning views of the ships passing by outside. Just a few blocks down, you’ll find Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall (306 North Avenue), home to the 12th largest craft brewery in the United States. The spacious beer hall features a full selection of Harpoon Beers and tours of the brewery are offered daily.

Boston is the most Irish city in America, so it’s no surprise the streets are dotted with numerous Irish pubs in every neighborhood. You’ll find plenty of them in the Seaport District near the Convention Center, including M.J. O’Connor’s Irish Pub (27 Columbus Ave), which is located right inside the Westin Boston Waterfront – host hotel for the NFDA Convention. If you’re up for a short walk, head over J.J. Foley’s Bar & Grille (21 Kingston Street)—a family-owned Irish pub that dates back to 1909, Whiskey Priest (150 Pier Four Blvd), which takes the Irish pub scene to the waterfront, or Shenannigans (332 West Broadway, D Street), an authentic Irish bar with a contemporary feel nestled in a classic Bostonian brick townhouse.

Outside of the Seaport District, there are many exciting spots to check out just a short Uber ride away from the Convention Center. For those who enjoy a themed experience, you’ll be transported back to the late 19th and early 20th century from the moment you enter Stage American Vaudeville Nightclub (19 Boylston Pl.) through a secret bookcase. Knife throwers? Check. Flapper dancers? Check. Aerialists? Check. And of course, four well-staffed bars who keep the libations flowing as you take in an entertaining and authentic Vaudeville experience.

Take a Trip to Lexington and Concord

History buffs will find it worth staying in town an extra day to take part in the America’s History: Lexington and Concord Half-Day Tour offered by the NFDA. The tour will take place Thursday, November 2nd from 8a-1p and will include many notable landmarks along the way, including Minute Man National Historical Park, the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

We wish everyone safe and happy travels as you journey to Boston for the 2017 NFDA Convention. Please leave us a comment if there are any events, CE classes or attractions in Boston you would recommend that we might have missed. We’d love to add more to this guide.


About The Author

Jess Farren (Fowler)

Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD's company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at

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