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NFDA in SLC: Your Guide to a Convention Worth Its Salt

Oct 01, 2018

In 2018, many funeral directors find themselves at a
crossroads. A cultural shift in the attitudes and traditions surrounding death
care has many in our profession questioning whether to cling to tradition or
embrace change. So, it seems quite appropriate this year’s
National Funeral Directors’ Association Convention will take place
in Salt Lake City – the “crossroads of the west.” After all, this annual event represents the
world’s largest intersection of experts, influencers, and thought leaders in
the funeral profession.

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. Every year, funeral professionals set aside time from their hectic
schedules to come together for a truly special week that combines fun and
sightseeing with informative educational sessions and networking opportunities.
As the days race by, we grow more excited for this year’s convention in Salt
Lake City and the opportunity to see so many friends and clients in one
location. Without a doubt, this event is the highlight of the year for many of
us in the funeral profession.

With an excellent lineup of dynamic speakers, timely topics
and exciting events, we know this year’s convention will not disappoint. Every
year, we study the NFDA schedule and learn about the host city to provide
directors with a fun and informative guide to all of the seminars, events and
attractions of the convention.

As a town defined by a stunning combination of natural and
architectural wonders, Salt Lake City is sure to provide a one-of-a-kind
backdrop for this year’s convention. With so much to do and so much to see, we want to help you
make the most of your time in SLC! Explore our list below and please share in
the comments which attraction or event you are most looking forward to this

Sip Cocktails in an Early 20th Century

ASD’s Client Cocktail

Monday, October 15, 6-8:30p

Journey back in time with the ASD team as we host an
unforgettable night for our clients and friends at the historic
McCune Mansion. Join us for cocktails
and hors d’oeuvres while immersing yourself in the storied past and opulence of
the early 20th century. Located approximately 6 blocks (.6 mile) from the
Salt Palace Convention Center, McCune
Mansion is one of the grandest historical homes in America and is
sure to provide the perfect backdrop for directors looking to socialize during
the convention.

Guests can roam freely through the house and will have
access to all 21 distinctive rooms, taking in spectacular embellishments such
as the Fine Art adorning the Receiving Room or the striking wood beams
decorating the ceiling of the Alfred McCune Room. With a full-service bar
located on all three floors, there is no reason not to explore every corner of
this extraordinarily preserved, 52,000 square foot mansion. Be sure to check
out the third floor for impressive views of Salt Lake City’s famous mountain

Get Inspired at NFDA Events

Opening General

Monday, October 15, 9:45-11:45a

The Opening General
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 we are so curious to hear about
some of their latest initiatives such as the new
Youth and Funerals Program.
We are also looking forward to finding out what talented filmmaker will take
home the first
Remembering a Life Film
Award. This is such a
wonderful idea to support within our profession and we’ve enjoyed following the
contest over the year with great anticipation. We can’t wait to view the
winning entry!

This year’s Opening General Session will be extra-memorable
for attendees, as it will feature a very illustrious lady! Former First Lady,
Laura Bush, will deliver the first
Keynote address this year. Mrs. Bush will discuss her time as First Lady of the
United States, her reflections on 9/11, and her passion for education and the
work of the George W. Bush Institute.

Here at ASD, we believe it is so important to encourage
innovation within our profession. For a funeral home vendor, there is no better
benchmark for this than the
Members’ Choice Award
(formally called The Innovation Award). Every year,
this award challenges funeral service professionals to ask,
what is the greatest innovation in funeral
service this year?
We will learn the answer to this question at this year’s
Opening General Session with the announcement of the winner of the
2018 NFDA Members Choice Award.

ASD was recognized this year for our Web Form WatchDog™
tool and Spanish Translation Services
—two features that help funeral directors to
better serve families by offering more responsive service and enhanced
communication. This is the first time any company has been named a finalist for
two entries in one year. While no other company has won this award more
than once, ASD is proud to be a three-time recipient. Year after year, our
company has demonstrated how fully committed we are to seeking out new and
inventive ways to resolve communication issues for funeral directors. We look
forward to this year’s award announcement and to share the stage with fellow
innovators within the funeral service community.

All-Star Recognition

Monday, October 15, 4:30-5:30p

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 and help
families. Special shout out to our clients at
Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services, Duksa Family Funeral
Homes at Burritt Hill, Emmanuel Johnson Funeral Home
, and Savage-DeMarco Funeral Service on being
inducted into the Hall of Excellence this year!

Getting Grace Movie Screening

Sunday, October 14, 3:45-6p

If you didn’t have an opportunity to see the film Getting
while it was playing in theaters, the NFDA is giving you a second
chance! Discover why everyone in our profession is raving about this film. The
movie tells the story of a disaffected yet endearing funeral director who
learns some very valuable lessons from a teenage girl with terminal cancer. To
help get you pumped for the screening,
check out our list of reasons why we think funeral directors should be excited about Getting Grace. And if you’re already a fan of the film, you may be
excited to learn lead actor,
, will be returning to the NFDA Convention to answer more of your
questions. Be sure to catch his Campfire Exchange Session with NFDA Publisher,
Ed Defort, on Monday, October 15th at 3:30p in the Expo Hall.

Actor, Daniel Roebuck, spending some time with the ASD team
last year.

Service of

Tuesday, October 16, 11a-12p

Honor the memory and legacy of funeral professionals we have
lost this year at the annual
of Remembrance
. This year’s service will also explore the history and
signification of music in funeral rituals.

Closing Party:
Oktoberfest at Snowbird

Wednesday, October 17, 4-8:30p

Be sure to stay for the NFDA
Closing Party
at Snowbird Ski and
Summer Resort,
which is sure to be unforgettable this year. Celebrate
Oktoberfest with your NFDA peers: grab a mug of frosty ale, enjoy a delicious
and authentic, German-inspired dinner buffet and be sure to bring your dancing
shoes so you can make the most of the live entertainment. Best of all, the
Snowbird is tucked away amidst the towering mountains and canyons of Utah, providing
a spectacular backdrop for an incredible, fun-filled evening.

Attend Timely Educational Seminars Tackling the
Biggest Issues Facing Funeral Professionals Today

When looking over the line up of educational seminars taking
place at the NFDA Convention, the word
immediately comes to mind. More than any other year, the 2018 convention
sessions cover some of the most critical and timely issues facing funeral
service professionals today. Rather than shying away from tough topics, the
NFDA is acknowledging the current state of funeral service by shining a light
on the subjects that seem to divide our profession the most.

Below are a few of the speakers and subjects that stood out
to us from this year’s convention program. 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.

The Opioid Epidemic

In a recent blog post, ASD outlined how the NFDA is tackling
this difficult subject from every angle at this year’s convention. For those
who are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, every day brings
new reminders of the many ways a drug overdose brings destruction in
it’s wake. The shattering after-effects this epidemic has had on directors have
not gone unnoticed. The NFDA has demonstrated their understanding of the full
scope of this crisis by offering
four different sessions that cover several
major areas in which substance abuse related issues could impact the work and
life of a funeral director.


A Conversation Café entitled, Community
Outreach and the Opioid Epidemic: How to Reverse an Overdose with NARCAN
take place from
12:30p-2p on Tuesday, October 16. The
session will focus on ways funeral directors can help prevent drug-related
deaths in their local area.


Supporting Families After an Overdose
will be held during the
convention on
Monday, October 15 from 7:30a-8:30a.
Directors in attendance will learn how to find appropriate grief resources to
provide to families after a drug-related death. (If you plan to attend this session, be sure to also check out our
resource list for those grieving after an overdose).


The session, Recognizing
Substance Abuse in the Workplace (Tuesday, October 16
, 9:45-10:45a) will
examine treatment resources, workplace drug testing, EAP programs and long-term
recovery matters to help funeral professionals be proactive in providing
resources to staff who may be struggling with drug addiction.


Every Life Deserves A Tribute will take place from 8-9a on Wednesday,
October 17
. The session will examine the stigma associated with tragic
deaths and explain how directors can encourage families to memorialize their
loved ones, regardless of their manner of death.

Redefining Funeral Traditions

How will the emerging trends in funeral service transform
traditional norms and shape the future of our profession? The NFDA is not
shying away from this crucial question at this year’s convention. Hot-button
topics that have sparked a tremendous amount of debate among funeral
professionals will be discussed at length in Salt Lake City. No matter where
you stand on these issues, it is important to be aware of new viewpoints and
philosophies that might impact your funeral home in the future.

Cemeteries are Dying:
A Bold Response

Sunday, October 14, 2:30-3:30p

With very little space left for new burials, many
cemeteries must find new and innovative ways to stay ahead of new trends that
put their sustainability at risk. Without question, not all death care
professionals agree on the different efforts cemeteries have taken to stay
relevant. In this session,
Dr. Lynn
(Smith Funeral & Cremation Service) and Jason Troyer (Mt. Hope Grief Services) will re-examine many
long-standing assumptions about cemetery service and report on one bold
experiment that seeks to respond to these trends.

How End-of-Life
Doulas are Changing the Face of Dying

Tuesday, October 16, 7:30-8:30a

An end-of-life doula assists someone with a terminal illness
in finding meaning, creating a legacy project, and planning for how their last
days will unfold. Some funeral professionals are uncomfortable with the idea of
an end-of-life doula because they are unfamiliar with this emerging profession.
Rather than fearing the unknown, learn from instructor
Henry Fersko-Weiss (International End of Life Doula Association)
about how a doula can help the dying experience a “good death” and how their
work can positively influence your own.

Going Home: The
Resurgence of Home Funerals

Tuesday, October 16, 9:45-10:45a

Perhaps the most divisive of NFDA’s convention speakers, Caitlin Doughty, (Undertaking LA) is a
strong advocate for families holding home funeral services. Her beliefs have
ruffled many feathers in our profession, but that didn’t stop the NFDA from
asking Caitlin to speak at this year’ convention. This because the association
recognizes how essential it is for directors to be educated on how these emerging
issues and new ideas could possibly impact their funeral home in the future.

Watch Caitlin tell you in her own words why you should check
out her NFDA session.

Youth and Funerals

How do you support children who are grieving? How can you
involve kids in a funeral service? What resources can funeral professionals use
to better serve families with grieving children? These important questions will
be examined at length in Salt Lake City. Every day of the convention offers a
different session related to this topic.

On Sunday, October 14
from 1:15-2:15p, Youth Coordinator, Carrie Bauer, (HopeWest Hospice) will
explain how funeral professionals can provide guidance to youth and their
families. Then, on
Monday, October 15
from 7:30a-9a, a panel discussion
Why Funerals Matter in the Lives of Youth and Children will
take place exploring how to include kids in the funeral planning process.
Another session will take place on Monday inside the Expo Hall at the Campfire
Exchange session,
Youth at Funerals – Your Community Outreach Tool (12:30p) that outlines specific NFDA
initiatives to help funeral directors support youth. Finally, on
Tuesday, October 16th,
another Campfire Exchange will take place at
3:30p. The session entitled, Children in Crisis, will offer more
guidance on incorporating children into the funeral ceremony.

Discover 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 hottest funeral home products and
services. Strolling through the tradeshow floor, you can load up on free gifts,
enter to win exciting prizes and explore the latest innovations created for the
funeral profession. This is a perfect opportunity to see the newest 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 15 from 12p-5p,
Tuesday, October 16 from 12p-5p and Wednesday, October 17 from 9a-12p.

While you’re exploring the Salt Palace Exhibit Hall, we hope
you’ll take some time to visit with the ASD Team at
Booth #2520. You can stop by during Expo Hours to visit with
our Operations Team to let us know if there is anything we can do to better
serve your needs and to customize your account. We can even make updates for
you right on the convention floor!

If you’d like to see our latest technology, we’ll be
holding LIVE, INTERACTIVE DEMOS of our NFDA award-winning ASD Mobile
app and other technologies we’ve created to make life more convenient for
directors. Our Technical Analysts,
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 also charge
your cell phone
at our booth, grab one of our FREE giveaways, and of course you can’t visit ASD’s booth without
checking out our now famous
Lego Sets
. We will have our popular Lego Cemetery, Lego Funeral
Service and our new Lego Hearse on display. ASD will be raffling
off one of our sets every day of the show. We can’t wait to find out who this
year’s lucky winners will be.

For those who are unable to attend NFDA this year but are
hoping to get their hands on one of our exclusive Lego sets, you’re in luck!
ASD will be doing a special raffle giveaway through our
Facebook page during
the convention for those unable to attend. Simply visit our Facebook page
10/15-10/17 to enter the raffle.

Paws for Pause

Even though we want to spend as much time with everyone as
possible during the NFDA Convention Expo, we can totally get behind an indoor
camping experience…especially when the dogs are invited! Head to the Campfire
Exchange section of the Expo Hall on
October 15 at 2:30p
for the Paws for
Pause Therapy Dog Session
to meet some adorable therapy dogs and learn
about the comfort they can provide to grieving family members. Or if you’re
feeling overwhelmed or anxious at any point during the expo, head over to the
Pause for Paws booth (#215) where both puppies and adult dogs will be on hand
to help you relax! We absolutely love this new addition to the NFDA Convention
and can’t wait to meet all of the lovable pups next month!

Take a Break to Explore Salt Lake

Dip Your Toes in the
Salt of the Earth

For those that might have a tough time telling others they
visited Salt Lake City without ever seeing the actual Great Salt Lake, you
won’t want to miss this excursion. A short 20-minute cab or Uber drive will
take you from the convention center to the
Salt Lake Marina
(1075 South 13312 West, Magna, UT), one of the best
locations to take in the views of this famed body of water (especially at
sunset). This is also the closest lake viewing location to downtown Salt Lake
City. From dinner cruises to paddle board rentals, the marina offers a variety
of different ways to enjoy this great inland sea. If you’re an avian
enthusiast, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars with you. The lake attracts
over 250 different species of bird and is a major stop for millions of
migratory birds.

Explore Temple Square

In Salt Lake City, many of the street names and landmarks
around town relate to their proximity to Temple Square. This is because the large
complex, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, is much more
than just a religious institution or tourist destination – it is an
architectural masterpiece. From the magnificent
Salt Lake Temple (50 N West
Temple), which took more than 40 years to
complete, to the
Tabernacle, one of the most acoustically sound buildings on Earth
today, there is so much to marvel at within this 35-acre historical landmark.
Temple Square is just a few blocks north from the convention center. While
you’re visiting, you can also explore your family history at the largest
genealogical library in the world. Founded in 1894, the
Family History Library
offers histories and genealogical data for over 3 billion deceased ancestors
from across the globe.

Shop the Latest
Trends at City Creek Shopping Center

Right across the street from the Salt Palace Convention
Center, you’ll find world-class fashion and dining at
City Creek Shopping
(50 Main Street). This upscale, open-air shopping destination
encompasses nearly 20 acres and offers over 100 stores and restaurants. The
pedestrian-friendly shopping center features foliage-lined walkways and
tranquil streams as well as the famous Transcend Fountain (located just outside
of Nordstrom). On the top of every hour, you can watch the Fire Fountain Show—a
specular display choreographed with stunning fire accents.

Enjoy A Huge Variety
of Delicious Fare

You won’t have to travel far to enjoy a tasty meal during
your trip to Salt Lake City as the Salt Palace Convention Center is surrounded
by a huge variety of wonderful restaurants, all within walking distance.

  • Want to savor the best filet in town? Head to the highly-rated
    Spencer’s For Steaks and Chops (255
    S W Temple) on the ground floor of the Hilton Hotel to enjoy hand-cut steaks,
    fresh seafood and a huge selection of wine.
  • Feeling spicy? Visit the Red Iguana (736 West North Temple) for the best Mexican fare in all
    of Salt Lake City. Don’t let the line outside deter you – the authentic
    cuisine, imported straight from Mexico, is worth the wait (which you can often
    skip at lunchtime) Be sure to try one of the restaurant’s signature Oaxaca
    moles and delicious margaritas.
  • Craving something from under the sea? Current Fish and Oyster (279 E 300 S) is renowned for it’s
    mouthwatering selection of sustainable seafood, flown in fresh from both the
    West and East coasts. Whether you’re craving shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels,
    or lobster, you’ll find it at this delicious restaurant housed inside a
    historic former Broadway building.
  • Hungry for a quick bite of something delicious? Try the famous döner kebab at Spitz (35 Broadway) or another dish
    inspired by Mediterranean street food. This fun and trendy eatery has an
    incredible menu that will not leave you disappointed.
  • Looking for Italian in a unique atmosphere? You can satisfy
    your taste buds at
    Caffe Molise (404
    S W Temple), located right across the street from the convention center. This
    charming trattoria specializes in Northern Italian fare (think hearty pasta dishes) with a rustic
    charm and is adorned with beautiful artwork. If the weather is nice, you can
    dine alfresco at the lovely garden patio outside.

Make a Memory at
Memory Grove Park

Within one mile of Salt Lake Convention Center is Memory Grove Park (300 Canyon Rd), a peaceful and serene green space that offers hiking trails along
City Creek and into the foothills of City Creek Canyon. With monuments,
fountains, picnic tables and creek side paths, this is the perfect place to
escape to if you’re craving a little outdoor time close to the heart of the

Experience SLC After

It’s a familiar scene at every NFDA Convention. When the
seminar sessions are over and the expo hall has closed for the day, funeral
directors will descend upon the host city in search of the best bars and
nightclubs in town. While Salt Lake City is sometimes labeled a quiet town void
of nightlife, the reality is very different. From high-end cocktail bars to
dance clubs to intimate taverns, there is no shortage of things to do after
dark in Salt Lake City.

Sip creative cocktails in a sleek and stylish setting at The Red Door (57 W 200 S), which offers an extensive selection of
creative martinis and cordials in a sophisticated urban atmosphere. Want to hit
the dance floor? Head to
Lake Effect
(155 W 200 S) across from the convention center where live music is featured
seven days a week. Another wonderful location
for live music is
Keys on Main (242
Main Street), an all-request dueling piano bar featuring two grand pianos on
stage with talented musicians playing and singing your requests. Keys on Main
will host this year’s
Funeral Director
Under 40
Party on Tuesday, October 16 from 8p-11p.

Discover Something New at one of SLC’s Museums

Part of the City Blocks Exhibit currently on display at The Leonardo

From modern art to classic cars, there is no shortage of
incredible museums and galleries to explore within Salt Lake City. Below are a
few you can visit during your trip that are all within one mile of the
convention center.

(209 E 500 S) – Explore the many ways science, technology, art and
creativity connect at this interactive museum.

Gateway Children’s Museum
(444 W 100 S) – Bring the kiddos with you to this
fun, hands-on learning center with interactive exhibit galleries.

Museum of Contemporary Art
(20 W Temple)Right next to the convention center, you’ll find the only modern
art gallery in Utah. The gallery features rotating exhibits from contemporary

Classic Special Auto
(355 W 700 S) – Vintage car enthusiasts will love this classic car museum with more than 150
antique cars from the 30s to the 80s.

Visit Utah Olympic
State Park

Just 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City, you’ll find the
site of the 2002 Winter Olympics in beautiful Park City. At
Utah Olympic State Park (3419 Olympic Parkway, Park City), you can explore
six high altitude ski jumps and see the fastest bobsled, luge and skeleton
track which broke records in 2002. You’ll be able to participate in many of the
activities the park has to offer and see real athletes training. (The NFDA will
offer a guided tour to Utah Olympic State Park on
Thursday, October 18 from

Wishing everyone happy and safe travels as you journey to
Utah for the 2018 NFDA Convention. Be sure to leave a comment below if there
are any events, CE classes or attractions in Salt Lake City 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

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