A Look Back At NFDA 2017 & A Look Forward For Funeral Service


It has been quite a month around the FrontRunner office. Since getting home from a crazy trade show season, we’ve been working hard to catch up with all of the new faces we met on the road. In addition, we are in the midst of developing an exciting software that is set to drop in early December. However, now that we have had a little bit of time to sit back and think about all of the progress that we saw at NFDA 2017, I want to share with you a few things we noticed at the show and what they mean for the industry moving forward. Safe to say we’ve been inspired by talking with so many funeral directors and hearing what they had to say about their technology needs.

But before we get into that, check out our recap video that shows just a small amount of the fun that we had at this year’s wonderful show and some candid moments shared with our beloved clients. It’s honestly hard to believe how much action we saw at the FrontRunner booth. So without further ado, thank you to the National Funeral Directors Association and the beautiful city of Boston for hosting our best show yet!

Okay, now we can get into the cool things we saw at NFDA 2017 and talk about why they are so exciting. In general, a step forward was taken and the show’s atmosphere was nothing short of electric. Dare I say, this year’s show marked the dawn of a new era in funeral service.

Great Looking Booth Setups

One glance around the NFDA 2017 floor at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Centre would have had you convinced that you were attending a technology conference. From the top of the entrance, coming down the escalators, it was clear to see that more businesses put an extensive amount of thought into the design and function of their booths. We saw more screens, more music, more interactive experiences and certainly (it seemed like, anyway) more vibrant attendees as a result. Having attended some technology conferences this year, I was proud to see our industry making such big strides in the same direction as some of the most innovative businesses out there.

Innovation Outside The Industry

The NFDA 2017 Innovation Award also represented a progressive step forward for the funeral industry, with Answering Service For Directors’ (ASD) winning for their Suicide Prevention Call Support System. By using their existing technology to address a real need in the United States, ASD stepped outside of death care to help with a pressing issue – now that is innovative! Technology providers and funeral homes alike can learn from this example by expanding outside of the space to use their expertise or facilities to help communities on a local, regional or even national scale. This type of “big picture” application of death care first technology and innovation may be what is needed to create a bright future for this industry.

The Campfire Sessions

Everyone I talked to raved about the Campfire Sessions at this year’s convention. Taking another page out of the modern start-up playbook, NFDA 2017 reimagined traditional educational sessions and transformed them into casual, constructive and progressive conversations between experts and interested funeral professionals. The result was nothing short of amazing, with great dialogue taking place both during the sessions and spilling out onto the floor and even the social events as well. Any catalyst for productive discourse is a win and NFDA got it perfect by organizing these incredible sessions. We even got in on the action with our Chief Marketing Officer Ashley Montroy leading one about social media.

Big Name Speakers

By their own estimation, NFDA 2017 “went big in Boston”. Boy, did they ever. Two of the headlining speakers at this year’s convention were nationally renowned personalities. They included former Dallas Cowboy and three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Troy Aikman and John Maxwell who is a renowned leadership expert. A speaking lineup like this would be big for any huge national event. Not to sound like a broken record, but it was great to see death care put on the map in this way. Looking to the future, I can’t wait to see what other big names bring their expertise into the mix. On the flip side, we are not too far away from the day when a death care industry expert will be sharing their experience with other industries at national or even international events.  

Open Minds, Everywhere

There was so much that was inspiring about the NFDA 2017 Convention & Expo, but none had a greater impact on me than seeing the amount of people that attended with an open mind. So may funeral directors and death care business owners came to the show ready to REALLY talk about what they could do better. At the FrontRunner booth we spoke with so many people who were truly interested in change. Not just small change either, the kind of fundamental change that will carry this industry into the digital age. There seemed to be an almost feverish hunger for the next trends. In addition, people came armed with research and questions that were extremely savvy. Almost everyone I spoke to throughout the week had something insightful to say with regards to technology and industry trends. If this continues, and it will, death care will be en route to being an extremely innovative and leading space in how it contributes to the overall modern human experience.

Until Next Year, And Beyond

By the time it was all over, we did not want to pack up our booth and go home. NFDA 2017 was so full of life and showed that the industry is growing. Not only here in North America, either. Businesses from around the world attended the conference, demonstrating the international interest in creating a new and modern death care space. Everywhere you turned there was cool ideas, unique products and start-up businesses with something fresh to contribute. Mixed with the experienced technology vendors, established death care product and service providers, this year’s crowd of over 6,200 seemed poised to take on the future, collectively.

If you want to know more about our experiences in Boston or are interested in becoming a part of our FrontRunner family, please contact us today. 2018 is going to a big year for us and we invite you to be apart of it.

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