Sep 26, 2022
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Temperatures are starting to cool. The smell of campfires fills the air. The colors of autumn are in full splendor. And of course, the thing we here at ASD always look forward to the most, the world’s largest gathering of funeral service professionals is about to kick off.
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 Baltimore 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.
There is so much in store this year in Baltimore! With an excellent lineup of dynamic speakers, timely topics and exciting events, we know this year’s convention will not disappoint. Every fall, 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. We’re here to help you prepare for your trip to make the most of your time in Charm City. Explore our list below and please share in the comments what you are most looking forward to this year.
2022 NFDA Convention Guide
Explore the latest funeral trends & 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, October 10th and the tradeshow floor will remain open until 5p that evening. The Expo Hall will also be open Tuesday, October 11th from 12-5p and Wednesday, October 12th from 9a-12p.
A look back at the 2019 NFDA Convention in Chicago
While you’re exploring the NFDA Expo Hall, we hope you’ll take some time to visit with the ASD Team at Booth #633. 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. With high-speed computers located at our booth, we can even make account updates right on the convention floor and show our clients all the different ways they are free to customize their account preferences.
ASD’s Client Solutions Team 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 will 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. This year, we’ll be showing funeral directors how our new NEXT STEP Text™ Solution allows funeral professionals to immediately provide important resources to at-need families via text.
NEXT STEP Text™
Now available exclusively to ASD Clients, the NEXT STEP Text™ allows funeral homes to provide important resources to families via text message immediately following their first call. When handling a new first call from a family member, ASD will now offer to send the caller a text message from your funeral home that includes the next steps families can expect in the funeral planning process. We understand family members frequently have many questions and concerns on their mind while they are waiting for a funeral director to return their call. This is why ASD created the NEXT STEP Text™ to provide families with a helpful checklist they can focus on while waiting to speak to your funeral director. The text can be customized to include a link to any page on the funeral home website. During the convention, ASD present more information on this new solution and demonstrate how funeral directors can also activate our NEXT STEP Text™ using the ASD Mobile 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 (includingone 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 #633
We will be picking a raffle winner every day of the convention and will also have our Lego Funeral Service, Lego Cemetery Set and Lego Hearse sets on a display. The raffle winners will have their choice of ASD’s four exclusive funeral-themed Lego Sets.
Celebrate ASD’s 50th Anniversary with us at the Museum of Industry
This year, ASD is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of our founding. Over the past five decades, we have seen so many changes and advances, but one thing has remained consistent and that is the wonderful relationships we have with our clients. The deep connection we have to the funeral profession is the core to our company’s DNA. This is why we want to celebrate our company’s 50th birthday surrounded by all of you! We hope you will join us for ASD’s 50th Anniversary Client Cocktail Party! The party will take place during the convention on Monday, October 10th, 6:30-8:30p at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Just a short, 5-minute drive from the Baltimore Convention Center, the Baltimore Museum of Industry (1415 Key Hwy) provides the perfect setting for a celebration of our company’s history. Located in an 1860s oyster cannery, the waterfront museum overlooks the city’s historic inner harbor. With indoor and outdoor exhibits, the BMI celebrates the industrial history of Baltimore. With hands-on displays and working early 20th century equipment, the museum offers a truly unique experience for all who explore it. We hope you’ll join us at this one-of-a-kind gem for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while enjoying fascinating galleries or the picturesque scenery of the museum’s waterfront terrace.
Learn from Convention Speakers about Issues Impacting Our Profession
Every year, NFDA Convention attendees fill the convention seminar rooms and auditoriums to hear thought leaders discuss the latest issues impacting the funeral service profession. The NFDA has done a superb job of finding knowledgeable experts to address funeral professionals on a wide range of topics. From business operations, to professional skills, to legal considerations, each session explores a different aspect of working in funeral service.
This year’s full lineup of seminars, workshops and panels include many timely and highly relevant subjects. While it was difficult to narrow it down, 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 educational sessions to decide what subjects would be most valuable for you and your funeral home staff.
Online Deathcare: Evolving Consumer Expectations
Speakers: Scott Ankerholz and Lee Senderov of Foundations Partners Group, Luke Frieberg of eFuneral & Sally Camm of Astound Commerce
Time: Sun, October 9th, 11:30a-12:30p
The pandemic has led to major reversal in the way in which the public engages with their local funeral home. The percentage of foot traffic coming into the funeral chapel has decreased considerably due to capacity limitations and society’s avoidance of indoor gatherings. On the flip side of this, funeral homes have more people than ever before visiting their website in order to access online obituaries where they can post condolences to families and access links to live streamed services. In this future-focused panel discussion, digital marketing experts will unpack new data that will help you understand how digital habits and evolving consumer expectations about online deathcare services will impact funeral service in the years to come.
Design Inspiration for Funerals
Speaker: Karen Bussen, Founder/CEO
Time: Sun, October 9th, 1:15p-2:15p
Like a real-life Pinterest board, this creative-focused session will help you discover new ideas for personalizing funerals for client families. With an increasing number of families wishing to celebrate their loved ones’ lives in unique ways, this session is sure to inspire you to think of ways you can create more meaningful service experiences. Come away with 50 design ideas to help you impress your client families.
The Price is Right: How to Compete on Service
Speaker: Danielle Burmeister of Homesteaders Life Company
Time: Sun, October 9th, 2:30p-3:30p
One of the most important and timely subjects on the convention schedule, this session will help attendees learn how to sell the value of their funeral home instead of price. ASD’s statistics confirm an increase in the number of people calling funeral homes to compare prices. Funeral professionals must stay ahead of this trend to avoid losing market share. This session will offer actionable steps for how to compete as a service leader in your market.
Suicide Death and Risk in a Post-COVID World
Speaker:Sara Murphy (Ph.D., Certified Thanatologist, College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island)
Time: Mon, October 10th, 7:30a-9:30a
Funeral directors have been responding to suicide calls and assisting the families of suicide victims since the birth of our profession. However, the need for a specialized approach when serving these families has never been more apparent. This session puts a microscope on the emotional and mental toll that suicide has on loved ones who are often left behind with unanswered questions and unresolved grief. Murphy will explore the factors contributing to complicated grief and to suicide risk in context to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees will be provided with education and resources to better support families affected by suicide.
*Special Engagement Keynote* The Way Forward: Mastering Life’s Toughest Battles and Discovering Your Purpose
Speakers: Sergeant Dakota Meyer
Time: Tues, October 11th, 8:30-9:30a
This year’s Special Engagement Keynote address will feature Medal of Honor recipient, Sergeant Dakota Meyer. Meyer displayed courage and determination while serving in Afghanistan and saved the lives of many Afghan and American troops. You won’t want to miss this inspiring address during which Meyer will draw from his military memoirs and lessons learned in his post-military experiences to lead a candid conversation on what it takes to survive, thrive, and tackle your biggest obstacles — whether in combat or in everyday life.
Standing for Something Larger Than Yourself
Speakers: Annette March-Grier
Time: Tues, October 11th, 9:45a-10:45a
In 2015, Funeral Director and non-profit co-founder, Annette March-Grier, made national headlines when she as selected for a list of CNN’s Top 10 heroes. Since that time, Annette’s legacy has only grown as her work in bereavement support has helped thousands of families in the Baltimore area. With this year’s convention taking place in her home city, you won’t want to miss this compelling session in which Annette shares how her early life growing up in a funeral home led to her co-founding the non-profit, Roberta’s House.
Five Keys to Cremation Success
Speaker: Mike Nicodemus, NFDA
Time: Wed, October 12th, 8a-9a
With more than half of American families now choosing cremation, it is crucial that funeral homes position themselves as experts in their markets. In this informative session, NFDA’s Vice President of Cremation Services, Mike Nicodemus, will walk you through give key factors that will help you succeed in cremation. From developing clear marketing messaging to determining what factors influence a family’s choice in a cremation provider, this session will help you become the “go to” funeral home for all of your families’ cremation needs.
*Closing Keynote* Embrace Your Thoughts, Elevate Your Life
Speakers: John O’Leary, Author and Motivational Speaker
Time: Wed, October 12th, 8a-9a
You are sure to return home from Baltimore feeling energized and ready to take on the world after attending this engaging closing keynote address from author and motivational speaker, John O’Leary. After surviving a horrific accident as a child, John discovered the power of positive thinking. In his session, he will explain how elevating your thought process can be the key ingredient to changing your life for the better.
Enjoy Fellowship Opportunities at NFDA Events
Sun, October 9th, 5:30p-7:30p
Get transported back in time with us at this year’s NFDA 80s-themed Welcome Party! Enjoy live music from 80s cover band The Reagan Years at Baltimore’s hopping Power Plant Live (34 Market Pl)! We can’t wait to flashdance with all of you as we celebrate the start of another awesome NFDA Convention.
The ASD Team enjoying the 2019 NFDA Welcome Party at Chicago’s Navy Pier
Opening General Session
Monday, October 10th, 9:45a-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 programs like the Journey to Serve initiative and the Funeral Service Foundation. We can’t wait to find out which one of our fellow vendors will be recognized with this year’s NFDA Innovation Award, a truly incredible honor that we are proud to share. This year’s keynote speaker, Kindra Hall, also has the funeral profession buzzing. We’re looking forward to hearing the bestselling author explain how effective and strategic storytelling can be used to captivate audiences and connect with more consumers.
All-Star Recognition Ceremony
Monday, October 10th, 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 C.R. Lyons & Sons Funeral Directors in Danvers, MA, Heath Funeral Chapel & Crematory in Lakeland, FL and Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service in North Chesterfield, VA on being inducted into the Hall of Excellence this year!
Service of Remembrance
Tuesday, October 11th, 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 explore how public servants are memorialized. The ceremony will feature the customs and rituals associated with celebrating the lives of public servants.
Funeral Directors Under 40 Party
Tuesday, October 11th, 5:30p-7:30p
The Raven’s Rave Axe Throwing Event
This year’s NFDA Funeral Directors Under 40 Party will bring Millennial and Gen-Z funeral directors out to Kraken Axes (26 Market Place) for an unforgettable evening of axe throwing. The youngest members of Team ASD are looking forward to attending this event and discovering who will be crowned the “Axe Master.”
Team ASD at last year’s NFDA 40 and Under Party
Closing Celebration at the National Aquarium
Wednesday, October 12th, 6:30p-9p
You can explore the wonders of the ocean while enjoying delicious cocktails, fine food and good company at this year’s NFDA Closing Party. No scuba gear is required to enjoy this exclusive party taking place within the galleries of the National Aquarium (501 E Pratt Street). Ranked as one of the nation’s top three aquariums, the National Aquarium offers awe-inspiring and award-winning exhibits that are sure to wow you. Enjoy the aquarium’s incredible underwater displays and sweeping views of the city’s inner harbor.
Discover What Baltimore Has in Store
Explore the Inner Harbor
The first stop on any trip to Baltimore should be to the famed Inner Harbor. This iconic seaport offers visitors a mecca of amazing waterfront destinations worth discovering. The 7-mile bricked promenade along the Patapsco River is a sight-seers paradise, filled with waterfront views you can’t experience anywhere else in the world. The inner harbor offers visitors everything from famous seafood restaurants to spectacular museums to historic shipyards. You can walk or bike the path or hop on a water taxi to take you from one end to the other. Both ASD’s Cocktail Party on Mon, October 10 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry (1415 Key Hwy) and the NFDA Closing Celebration on Wed, October 12 at the National Aquarium (501 E. Pratt St) will take place at along the inner harbor.
Stretch Your Sea Legs
One of the best ways to experience Baltimore and all of its historic charms is to head out on the water. From dinner cruises to sail boats to pirate ship excursions, there are so many different ways to experience the harbor. You can find a boating excursion for every time of day and for every crowd. You’ll have your choice between sail boats, fishing charters, yachts, pontoon boats or power boats. Those looking for a more of a workout can rent a kayak or paddleboat. The options are truly as plentiful as fish in the sea!
Discover Something New at a Nearby Museum
The galleries at the Walters Art Museum
One of the great things about Baltimore as a convention city is the proximity of so many incredible museums near the convention. Within 2 miles of the convention center, you can find the Walters Art Museum (600 N Charles St) which features artwork and objects from the around the world with collections spanning more than 7 millennia, the American Visionary Art Museum (800 Key Hwy) which specializes in the preservation of visionary, self-taught artistry, the Maryland Science Center (601 Light St), the oldest scientific institution in the state of Maryland, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry (1415 Key Hwy), where ASD will hold our Client Cocktail party. For those looking for a museum that honors a beloved icon, you can also visit the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum (26 Emory St) or the Edgar Allen Poe House & Museum (203 N Amity St). Both are located just a short distance from the convention center.
Baltimore is also famous for its collection of historic ships. You can hop on one of these floating museums along the harbor (301 E Pratt St) to be transported back in time. Learn about the city’s maritime past and discover over 50,000 preserved artifacts in one of the city’s four iconic ships, located within easy walking distance of each other, as well as the city’s unique 1856 lighthouse. The ships are located less than a half mile from the Baltimore Convention Center.
Taste Baltimore’s Delicious Fare
Baltimore is a food lover’s dream for sea and land lovers alike. As a port city, Baltimore is most known for its fresh fish, crab and oyster though you’ll find something for every appetite in Charm City. For this list, we are narrowing our selection down to restaurants that found within the inner harbor and historic Fells Point neighborhoods, so you won’t have far to go to find something that satisfies your cravings.
Hungry something from under the sea? If scrumptious seafood is what you’re after, head to the harbor so you can enjoy your meal with a beautiful view. You’ll have no shortage of options. One of the most popular of those is the Rusty Scupper Restaurant and Bar (402 Key Hwy) and for good reason! This local landmark has been serving fresh seafood along the waterfront for over 30 years!
Another favorite is Cindy Lou’s Fish House (1215 Wills St) which offers delectable seafood dishes like crab and avocado toast in an opulent dining room surrounded by expansive views of the harbor. For those looking for more casual fare in a unique atmosphere, check out Captain James Crabhouse (2121 Aliceanna St) in historic Fells Point which offers great views from the dock of their boat-shaped restaurant and all the crab legs you can eat.
Feeling Nostalgic? Travel back in time at travel back in time at Bygone (400 International Drive). You’ll feel like you’ve entered one of Mr. Gatsby’s parties as you enter this swanky rooftop restaurant on the 29th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel. The spirit of the roaring 20s is on full display at this unique restaurant which offers early 20th century cuisine, a huge cocktail menu and expansive views of the city.
Torn between Filet and Fettucchini? You’ll find the best of both worlds at Tagliata (1012 Fleet Street), an Italian chophouse whose fresh hand-rolled pasta is only rivaled by its succulent hand-cut steaks. Offering a beautiful atmosphere, impressive menu and massive wine list, there’s certainly a lot to love about this place.
Craving oodles of noodles? At Ramen Utsuke (414 Light St), you can enjoy an unforgettable bowl or box of Japanese comfort food. Try some flavorful bowl of authentic ramen noodles or a bento box filled with fresh sushi.
Can’t decide what you’re in the mood for? You and your group will have plenty of options to choose from at the Cross Street Market (1065 S. Charles Street) which offers an array of delectable options within a historic marketplace built in 1864. From crepes to empanadas to poke bowls, there is something for everyone here!
Unwind at Druid Hill Park
Just a short cab ride away from the convention center, you can escape the busy streets of Baltimore at Druid Hill Park (900 Druid Park Lake Dr). Nature and history lovers alike will find plenty to enjoy at this picturesque urban oasis. The park includes 745 acres of rolling hills, majestic forest, walking trails, a lake, picnic areas and athletic fields. Founded in 1860, Druid Hill Park also features the Maryland Zoo, one of the nation’s first zoos, and the impressive Rawlings Conservatory and Botanical Gardens which is the country’s second oldest Victorian glass conservatory.
Enjoy a Night Out on the Town
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. From high-end cocktail bars to floating dance clubs to historic taverns, there is no shortage of entertaining after-hours spots in Baltimore. If you’re a fan of breweries and distilleries, you’ll have plenty to pick in just about every neighborhood of the city. Head to the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House (5001 Washington Blvd) to experience the only Guinness brewery in the United States or visit Baltimore Spirit Company (1700 W 41st St) which offers a unique Blend Your Own Whiskey tour.
Baltimore’s nightlife scene would not be complete with Power Plant Live! This sprawling entertainment hub offers a huge variety of bars, pubs and nightclubs all connected to a central outdoor pavilion. From live bands to escape rooms to mechanical bull riding, there is something for everyone here to experience. Both NFDA’s Welcome Party and Funeral Directors Under 40 parties will take place at Power Plant Live!
Want to share a drink with the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe? Head to The Horse You Came In On Saloon (1626 Thames St) which claims to have served the famed horror writer his last drink just a few hours before his untimely death in 1849. The bar itself is located in a historic colonial building and dates back to 1775. Or, if you’re looking for a nightlife spot that honors history from a different era, check out The Elk Room (1010 Fleet Street) which offers a 1920s speakeasy vibe complete with handcrafted cocktails, glimmering chandeliers and a buzzer on an unmarked door you must press to be let into the club.
Get In Touch With Your Inner Bookworm
You will feel like Belle in Beauty and the Beast moment you step foot instead this awe-inspiring architectural jewel located on the grounds of John Hopkins University. Recognized as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, the George Peabody Library (17 E Mt Vernon Pl) houses 300,000 volumes within its 19th century walls. The soaring atrium, adorned with ornate Greek Revival architectural design elements, will take your breath away upon entering. Less than a mile away from the convention center, the library is well worth a visit to experience its magnificence.
ASD would like to wish everyone safe and happy travels as you journey to Baltimore for the 2022 NFDA Convention. Be sure to leave a comment for us if there are any events, CE classes or attractions in Baltimore 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