Calling all funeral directors! The countdown to the highly anticipated National Funeral Directors Association Convention in the electrifying city of Las Vegas has officially begun! From captivating workshops with industry experts to networking opportunities amidst the glitz and glamour of the entertainment capital, this year’s convention promises to be an unmissable event that will leave funeral directors inspired and energized.
As proud sponsors of the event, we recognize the importance of bringing funeral professionals from all over the globe together for a week filled with informative educational sessions, networking opportunities, and of course, some fun and sightseeing. This convention is undoubtedly the highlight of the year for many of us in the funeral profession, eagerly looking forward to meeting old friends and clients in one location. With an outstanding lineup of dynamic speakers, timely topics, and exciting events, there’s no doubt that this year’s gathering will be unforgettable.
As we gear up for the convention, we’re diligently studying the schedule and exploring the host city to provide directors with a comprehensive guide to all the seminars, attractions, and events. Our aim is to help you make the most of your time in Las Vegas, experiencing both the enriching professional development opportunities and the city’s vibrant charm.
2023 NFDA Convention Insider’s Guide
Experience the forefront of funeral trends and innovations in the Expo Hall
The NFDA Expo Hall is the place to be for funeral professionals who want to see, touch and experience firsthand the products and services that can help them conduct their business. Every funeral-related product, service or niche idea you can think of has a place in the sprawling convention hall. The room is brimming with passionate individuals who are dedicated to helping death care professionals serve families. From those who help preserve time-honored funeral traditions to those who are introducing new innovations into our profession, there is a pulsating atmosphere of death care diversity you can’t experience anywhere else.
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. The Expo Hall Ribbon Cutting will take place at 12p on Monday, September 11th and the tradeshow floor will remain open until 5p that evening. The Expo Hall will also be open Tuesday, September 12th from 12-5p and Wednesday, September 13th from 9a-12p.
While you’re exploring the NFDA Expo Hall, we hope you’ll take some time to visit with the ASD Team at Booth #1123. The convention gives us the opportunity to demonstrate ASD’s commitment to serving each and every one of our funeral home clients with the highest level of customized service. We will often take notes from directors at our booth and inquire if there is anything we can do to make their lives a little easier when they return home. We can even make account updates right on the convention floor and demonstrate to our clients all the different ways they are free to customize their account preferences.
ASD’s Technical and Customer Service teams will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have about our technical solutions. ASD’s booth includes a large television monitor connected to an iPhone, allowing funeral directors to see our ASD Mobile app in action. Throughout the convention, our technical experts hold live, interactive demonstrations of our NFDA award-winning ASD Mobile app and other technologies we’ve created to make life more convenient for directors. This year, we will be demoing some of our newer solutions such as our NEXT STEP Text™, Automatic Message Transcriptions, and our forthcoming call forwarding confirmation tools that we will be introducing in the coming months.
Automatic Message Transcriptions
Now available on ASD Mobile and the ASD website, our new Automatic Message Transcriptions empower you and your funeral home team to swiftly locate specific information related to a particular case by scanning the entire conversation text during the search process. This enhanced searching capability ensures that you and your team can efficiently access and retrieve relevant details from conversations with ease.
This innovative addition to ASD’s suite of services reaffirms our company’s commitment to delivering exceptional support to funeral professionals, enabling you to focus on providing comfort to grieving families without the burden of managing and deciphering voicemail messages. While call recordings remain a vital tool for determining the emotional state of bereaved callers prior to returning their call, message transcriptions will streamline the process of reviewing your messages while providing added clarity and searching abilities. During the convention, ASD will present more information on this new solution and demonstrate how funeral directors can access transcriptions on the app.
Don’t Miss Our Lego Embalming Room
Of course, one of the most exciting things you’ll find at ASD’s booth this year (or anywhere in the Expo, for that matter) is our Lego Embalming Room set that has gone viral on ASD’s social media. The new set is our most detailed one to date and includes an embalmer minifig, two cadaver minifigs (including one inside the morgue drawer!), a Porti-Boy machine, embalming chemicals, tools, cosmetics, eye wash station and dozens of other distinctive features to make this set truly unique.
Enter to win ASD’s new Lego Embalming Room Set at Booth #1123
We will be picking a raffle winner every day of the convention and will also have our Lego Funeral Service and Lego Cemetery Sets on a display. The raffle winners will have their choice of ASD’s three exclusive funeral-themed Lego Sets.
At the NFDA Convention each year, attendees flock to the seminar rooms and auditoriums, eagerly listening to thought leaders discussing the latest issues impacting the funeral service profession. The NFDA excels at curating a stellar lineup of knowledgeable experts who cover a wide range of topics, including business operations, professional skills, and legal considerations, providing a comprehensive exploration of the funeral service profession.
This year’s convention offers an array of timely and relevant subjects in its seminars, workshops, and panels. While we’ve highlighted a few standout speakers and topics below, it’s essential to explore the NFDA’s full lineup to identify specific subjects that will be most beneficial for you and your funeral home staff.
Improv for Funeral Directors
Speakers: Joseph Thomas, LFD at Shackelford Funeral Directors
Time: Sun, September 10th, 11:30a-12:30p
One of the most interesting and unique offerings on the line up for year’s convention is Joseph Thomas’ session on what funeral directors can learn from improv comedy. Discover the art of incorporating improv comedy fundamentals into the diverse situations funeral directors frequently face and learn how this can elevate customer service, optimize funeral plan execution, and help you adapt to unexpected situations.
Stand Out With Tech-Savvy Families
Speaker: Zack Moy, Co-Founder of Afterword
Time: Sun, September 10th, 1:15p-2:15p
In this data-driven presentation, Zack Moy of Afterword will unpack insights gained from analyzing more than 14,000 funeral home websites across the country. Discover how to create the best experience for families visiting your site while adhering to FTC rule requirements. This session will delve into a wide array of elements, including website layouts, button placement, GPL formats, featured testimonials, SEO tactics, and privacy guidelines, providing case studies and practical recommendations for implementation. If you plan to attend, we recommend taking a few moments to read our article to learn about some of the insights and statistics ASD has gathered on funeral home web communication.
Suicide Risk Within the Deathcare Profession
Speaker: Sara Murphy, PhD, Death Educator
Time: Monday, September 11th, 8a-9a
Due to the demands of the high-stress work carried out by deathcare professionals and the historical lack of discussion around suicide within the field, it has become increasingly more important to ensure the deathcare community has resources to receive the necessary support. In this session, Dr. Murphy will discuss suicide myths vs realities, explain how to recognize suicide risk within deathcare professionals, and provide valuable information on how to respond appropriately to prevent suicide death loss within the profession.
Compassion Fatigue: How to Mitigate Funeral Care Burnout
Speaker: Lynda Cheldelin, CEO of International Grief Institute
Time: Tuesday, September 12, 8a-9a
One of the often-overlooked side effects of working in funeral service is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue represent a serious group of related problems for people who care for, hear about or witness the intense suffering of others. Funeral directors are especially vulnerable to these conditions. Yet, too often they are left out of conversations involving occupations at-risk for PTSD and therefore do not get access to the same level of mental wellness support that other first responders receive. In this session, attendees will learn 10 proven techniques designed to lessen the impact of compassion fatigue before it leads to career burnout
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral: A Behind-the-Scenes Look
Speakers: Tim Purves, William Purves Funeral Directors
Time: Tuesday, September 12th, 9:45a-10:45a
We have to give kudos to the NFDA for scoring this awesome speaker for this year’s convention. Tim Purves of Scotland was entrusted with the great honor of looking after the Scottish element of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral arrangements. In this can’t-miss session, he will recount his first-hand experiences escorting her majesty from Balmoral Castle to her London-bound aircraft and his role in the ceremonial movement at St. Giles Cathedral. Tim will discuss what it is to perform his duties as a deathcare professional while under the watchful eye of the entire world. He will also share experiences from the state funeral in West Minster Abbey. This is one session that is certain to be the talk of the convention!
*Special Engagement Keynote* Hacking the Rockstar Attitude
Speakers: Mark Schulman, World-Class Drummer, Speaker & Author
Time: Tuesday, September 12th, 10:30a-11:30a
In this electrifying and dynamic presentation, the renowned drummer, Mark Schulman, will delve into the powerful connection between attitude, behavior, and consequences, unlocking the secrets to crafting your very own rock n’ roll philosophy. Discover the art of conquering challenges, unleashing peak performance, and energizing both your professional and personal endeavors.
Closing the Deal – Growth by Acquisitions
Speaker: Jeff Smith, President of Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home
Time: Wed, September 13th, 8a-9a
As a third-generation mid-market funeral home owner, Jeff Jones has learned a lot about how to grow a funeral business through acquisition. In this informative session, attendees will discover how to create and execute a growth plan through acquisitions, step by step. Learn about team requirements, target identification, fair value determination, financing, post-acquisition integration, and gain fearless confidence in your growth endeavors.
*Closing Keynote* Embracing AI Technology
Speakers: Dennis Yu, CEO of BlitzMetrics
Time: Wed, September 13th, 12:15-1:30p
Like it or not, artificial intelligence isn’t coming…it’s here! Learn how you can use it to your advantage to stay ahead of the curve in your funeral home marketing. In this closing keynote, expert Dennis Yu of BlitzMetrics will use group of randomly selected NFDA members to provide examples of different ways AI can be effectively utilized for digital marketing, ad campaigns and more. You’ll also learn about some of the challenges that might arise when using AI.
Sun, September 10th, 5:30p-7:30p
The NFDA kicks off every year with an electrifying party that brings together old friends for a fantastic night of camaraderie. Join us on Rose Terrace at Resorts World (3000 S Las Vegas Blvd) for drinks, dancing and excitement at the NFDA Welcome Party.
The ASD Team enjoying last year’s 80s themed Welcome Party
Monday, September 11th, 9:30a-11:45a
The Opening General Session marks the official start to the NFDA Convention and celebrates the achievements of the NFDA over the year. It’s always enlightening to hear our NFDA leaders discuss recent developments and detail the progress of the association’s most recent initiatives. We can’t wait to find out which one of our fellow vendors will be recognized with the 2023 NFDA Innovation Award. As the only company in the funeral profession to receive this prestigious honor four times, we look forward to celebrating the winner of this year’s award.
This year’s keynote speaker, Suneel Gupta, also has the funeral profession buzzing. We’re looking forward to hearing the bestselling author and renowned speaker explain how funeral professionals can increase performance and remain innovative without becoming burned out.
With this year’s Opening General Session falling on the anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, we appreciate the association’s commitment to dedicating time to honor this date with a special service of remembrance. The service will include remarks from John LaBarbera, Battalion Commander, FDNY (Ret.) who will share his memories on the events of that day and honor the memories of all who died.
All-Star Recognition Ceremony
Monday, September 11th, 4:00p-5:00p
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 and help families. Special shout out to our clients at Copeland Funeral Service in Beaufort, SC; Falco, Caruso & Leonard Funeral Home in Pennsauken, NJ; Mercer-Adams Funeral Service in Bethany, OK; Oliverie Funeral Homes in Manchester, NJ; Thomas McAfee Funeral Home – Southeast in Simpsonville, SC & Watkins Brothers Funeral Homes in Ososso, MI on being inducted into the Hall of Excellence this year!
Funeral Directors Under 40 Party
Tuesday, September 12th, 5:30p-7:30p
This year’s NFDA Funeral Directors Under 40 Party will bring Millennial and Gen-Z funeral directors out for a night out on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Head to vibrant Flight Club to enjoy a game of Social Darts, sip bespoke cocktails, savor delicious apps and snap a photo in front of one of the venue’s imaginative art displays.
Team ASD at last year’s NFDA 40 and Under Party
Discover the allure and unique experiences Las Vegas has to offer
There is a reason why more than 40 million people visit Las Vegas every year. As the Entertainment Capital of the World, Vegas beckons visitors from all corners of the world to explore its jaw-dropping attractions. Whether it’s your first time in Vegas or you’ve roamed the famous strip many times, take time during the NFDA Convention to explore everything this exciting and lively city has to offer. Below are a few of our favorite things to do when we’re in Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.
1. Catch A Cirque du Soleil Show
If you’ve never seen a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas, you have never seen a Cirque du Soleil show period. No other city can compete with the death-defying acrobatics you’ll find on the Vegas stages, many of which were created solely to deliver these high-flying and visually stunning presentations. The ASD team will be traveling to Vegas a day early so we can catch a showing of O, the Cirque du Soleil show which combines water, world-class acrobats, synchronized swimmers and divers to create a breathtaking experience. Experience the magic for yourself at one of the many awe-inspiring shows that take place every night in Vegas—there’s a show for everyone! But don’t just take our word for it – here are 5 reasons why you should see a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas.
2. Get Swept Away at the Fountains of Bellagio
No tickets or reservations are required to see this spectacular display of 200-foot-tall fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel Resort set to . If you’ve never seen it before, videos and photos don’t do this amazing scene justice. Every 30 minutes, the free water and music show begins again, drawing in tourists from all over the world from the strip to experience its magic
3. Discover the Freemont Street Experience
From zip lines to light shows, this sprawling 24-hour pedestrian mall is one of the most iconic Vegas destinations, offering a little something for everyone. Walking along the six-block, pedestrian only thoroughfare you can find retro casinos, street performers, open-air bars, delicious street eats and the world’s largest video screen. Visit the Golden Nugget Casino to see the largest gold nugget and don’t forget to check out the ginormous shark aquarium.
4. Indulge in Unique Dining Experiences
Las Vegas is known for its innovative dining scene and restaurants that offer unique concepts you won’t find anywhere else. From elaborate buffets to celebrity chef-owned establishments to themed eateries, you can savor every type of cuisine in a wide range of interesting atmospheres.
As the chosen host hotel for the NFDA Convention, Resorts World stands out by presenting an unparalleled selection of internationally influenced cuisine, surpassing all other hotels on the renowned Las Vegas Strip. Below are a few of their most popular and interesting options:
Our pick for fine dining: FuHu:
A row of cherry blossoms adorns the door of this high-energy, experimental dining venue that offers unique twists on Asian cuisine. The location boasts a lively and multi-faceted design that combines nostalgic elements with contemporary, Chinese-inspired intricacies. The restaurant’s lavish indoor-outdoor dining area and patio offers the perfect dining backdrop.
Our pick for “Street Eats”: Ten Suns Braised Beef
The Famous Foods dining area at Resorts World is a tribute to the street eats markets in Asian countries and offers a wide variety of mouthwatering bites. Whether you are craving dumplings, sushi, rice served in a claybot, Peking duck burritos, bubble tea, dessert or a simple sandwich, you’ll want to head here. While there are so many delicious options, we think our first stop would have to be the Tens Suns Braised Beef where you can enjoy Michelin award-winning braised beef bowls with rice, noodles or salad.
Our pick for quick bites: Suns Out Buns Out
Relax in an egg-shaped chair as you enjoy some delicious comfort food options. The star of the menu is of course the humble egg which is used in a variety of delicious ways to satisfy your every craving.
5. Visit Vegas’s Past At The Neon Museum
Many funeral home conventions include tours of famous cemeteries and mausoleums. Why not scratch that itch when you’re in Vegas by checking out the graveyard of the old Vegas strip. At the Neon Museum, you can stroll through the museums vast “boneyard” to see old signs and relics that have been salvaged from the Vegas of yesterday, some dating as far back as eight decades! More than six acres contain hundreds of different signs that will transport you back in time. The museum is open 7 days a week from 9:30a until 11p.
6. Enjoy Dinner and Drinks On Top of The World
Whether you’ve never been to Vegas or have been there many times, the Stratosphere Tower is worth visiting to take in stunning 360-degree views of the always-changing Vegas skyline. While this iconic landmark is perhaps best known for it’s sky-high thrill rides and bungee jumping, those who are looking to relax will also find plenty to love about the “tower experience.” You can enjoy one-of-a-kind views of the shimmering Las Vegas Strip and Valley, all while enjoying award-winning cuisine from Top of the World restaurant. Afterwards, explore the incomparable views from every angle at 107 Skylounge or Airbar (the highest bar in Vegas) while enjoying a signature Vegas cocktail! Just don’t be concerned if you see someone flying by your window – AirBar is the prime spot to see thrill seekers experiencing the SkyJump.
A video captured by ASD Supervisor, Brian Pretti, showing his SkyJump from the Stratosphere Tower.
7. Explore Springs Preserve
While Vegas may not be the first city that comes to mind when one thinks about spending time in the great outdoors, you can still spend some quality time with Mother Nature at this impressive nature preserve less than 15 minutes from Resorts World. Springs Preserve offers 180 acres of walking trails, botanical gardens, museum exhibits and playgrounds. If you start pining for a bit of green space during your Vegas visit, you’ll want to make this your first stop.
8. Experience the Pinball Hall of Fame
You’re going to want to bring some quarters with you to this hidden treasure. More than 150 operational pinball machines are housed here, allowing visitors to play with or just admire the classic machines in all their vintage splendor.
ASD would like to wish everyone safe and happy travels as you journey to Las Vegas for the 2023 NFDA Convention. Be sure to leave a comment for us if there are any events, CE classes or attractions in Vegas you would recommend that we may have missed. We would 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 Jess@myASD.com