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The Ultimate Guide to the 2023 NFDA Convention and Expo

Ben breaks down the largest death care convention of the year! Hope to see you in Las Vegas September 10-13, 2023!

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The Expo

The expo floor itself contains products and services that address both practical and emotional needs. Booths and displays showcase the latest advancements in embalming techniques, casket designs, memorial services, eco-friendly burial options, and grief counseling resources. Attendees engage in thoughtful conversations with exhibitors, exploring innovations that can enhance their ability to provide meaningful and compassionate support to grieving families. This can be highlighted by the participants in the NFDA Innovation Award showing off their newest products.  

More importantly there’s also the camaraderie and unity among the funeral directors. They understand the profound impact of their work and the unique challenges they face. Conversations happen not just about business matters, but also about personal growth, resilience, and the fulfillment that comes from helping others during times of loss. Many members of funeral service have been able to connect through social media, and the expo floor is a great place to connect in person and explore what the vendors have to offer. It is also a great place to find some of your favorite funeral service personalities. You can find myself (Ben) at the Frigid Fluid Company booths (1803 and 959) and Brian Waters in the Kellerman Professional Vehicles (723). They will also be walking the floor creating content for our podcasts; The Funeralcast and Undertaking the Podcast, respectively.  

Throughout the convention floor, you might also witness demonstrations of technology for use in your funeral home. Some of our favorites we look forward to is demoing the Frigid Embalming machine and riding in the Mortuary Lift Company’s (booth 1141) prep room lift.  

Other Booths to Check Out—

Answering Service for Directors (ASD): The have their own custom Lego sets that can be won by entering their drawing.  

Ring Ring Marketing; As a leading marketing company in funeral service, they are always up to something, whether it be walls you can draw on or popcorn to energize you while you are walking around the expo floor, be sure to stop and say hello.  

Salute to Service: Ever wonder what a Navy Mortician does? Are you tired of arguments in online embalming groups about how to fold a flag? You will find your answers here where the military and Veteran’s Affairs office are stationed (pun intended). Located nearby in booth 611, you will also find the NFDA’s 9/11 Memorial. If you are feeling patriotic, this area is for you.  

The American Board of Funeral Service: Want to run into your favorite professor or administrator from mortuary school? There’s a good chance they might be hanging around this booth (808) sometime during the show. Several of the individual schools have their own booths as well.  

A Brush With Death Podcast: Host Gabe Schauf will have a rotating group of funeral services that he will interview live on the stage located in booth 756, so cruise on by and see who he has on his stage.  

Anywhere with hearses: Located throughout the floor, hearse companies bring their shiniest hearse to show off. You should check them out, everyone loves looking at hearses.  


Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the free stuff, by which of course, we mean SWAG! Managing free swag at a convention can be both exciting and overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you effectively handle the swag you receive: 

  • Assess Your Needs: Consider the usefulness of each item before accepting it. Will you actually use it? If not, you might want to pass on it. This helps prevent accumulating unnecessary clutter. 
  • Set Limits: Decide beforehand how much swag you’re willing to take. This prevents you from being overly burdened with items you don’t need. 
  • Bring a Bag: Have a reusable bag or backpack with you to carry your swag. Or even better, take one of the free totes offered by many of the vendors. This makes it easier to manage and keeps your hands free. 
  • Prioritize Quality Over Quantity: Instead of collecting everything in sight, focus on collecting high-quality items that you’ll actually use or appreciate. 
  • Take Only What You’ll Use: Swag can include items like pens, notepads, water bottles, t-shirts, and more. Only take what you know you’ll use or find valuable. 
  • Be Mindful of Space: Most of us are traveling and have limited space, be conscious of how much swag you can realistically take home. 
  • Network: Use swag as an opportunity to engage with exhibitors and vendors. Take a moment to learn about their products or services, and express genuine interest. 
  • Review and Sort: At the end of each day, review your swag collection. Discard duplicates or items you’ve decided not to keep. Organize the remaining items in your bag. 
  • Stay Organized: If you plan to collect a lot of swag, consider using separate compartments or small bags within your main bag to keep items organized and prevent them from getting mixed up. 
  • Be Considerate: Remember that swag is provided by companies and exhibitors to promote their products and services. Be respectful when accepting items and engaging with representatives. 
  • Share the Experience: Document your convention experience and the swag you’ve collected through photos or social media. It can be a fun way to engage with others and share the highlights of the event. 
  • Reflect on Value: After the convention, take time to reflect on the swag you brought home. Did it enhance your experience? Did you make meaningful connections because of it? This can help guide your approach at future events. 

The Speakers

The excitement about the speakers at a funeral directors’ convention can be quite unique, as these professionals gather to learn, share experiences, and gain insights that are directly relevant to their compassionate and vital work. Here’s what you can expect to gain and what we are looking forward to:  

Professional Growth: Many attendees view the speakers as sources of inspiration and personal growth. The chance to hear from experienced professionals who have successfully navigated the complexities of the funeral industry can be incredibly motivating. 

New Perspectives: Speakers often bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the forefront. This can spark excitement as attendees anticipate learning about new approaches and strategies that can enhance their services. 


  • Restorative Artists Karl Wenzel and Glyn Tallon are conducting a joint preconvention seminar on Sunday on restoring difficult cases. Speaking from experience, these are two top notch presenters you won’t want to miss.  
  • Brienna Smith, the Chief Operations Officer at Return Home will give us the dirt on Natural Organic Reduction  


  • Amanda King, funeral service’s most prevalent artist and embalmer will share her method of applying color theory to your prep room. Her background in studio art brings a new point of view on an old mortuary school trope.  


  • Mortuary school professor and trade embalmer John Hill will explain to us the importance of the coexistence of old school and new school embalming philosophies.  

Emotional Connection: Given the nature of the funeral industry, speakers who address the emotional and psychological aspects of their work can elicit a strong emotional connection. Attendees look forward to learning how to better support grieving families. 

Friday- Sunday 

  • Glenda Stansbury is doing a preconvention seminar on her patented celebrant training. Whether you follow through on becoming a celebrant in practice, her insights can help you design better services for your families.  

Sharing Success Stories: Speakers who share personal experiences and success stories can create a sense of excitement and motivation. Learning from real-world examples can be both educational and inspiring. 

Learning from Diverse Backgrounds: Excitement can build when speakers come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This provides attendees with the chance to broaden their perspectives and enhance their cultural sensitivity. 


  • Arapahoe Community College Program Chair Faith Haug will offer us guidance on how to care for members of the LGBTQA community and their families.  

Industry Trends: Speakers who discuss emerging trends, such as eco-friendly burial options or digital memorial services, can generate excitement by offering a glimpse into the future of the industry. 


  • NFDA general counsel Chris Farmer will provide us with an update on FTC Funeral Rule 
  • Chris Costello will look at the integration of AI in funeral service. 

Networking Opportunities: The presence of renowned speakers can attract professionals from various regions and specialties. The excitement comes from the opportunity to connect with peers who share a passion for the industry. Be sure to let them know what you think of their presentation! Getting up in front of your colleagues is difficult! 

A Sense of Unity: The convention setting encourages a sense of unity and shared purpose. The excitement about the speakers is often intertwined with the joy of being part of a larger community of professionals who understand the importance of their work. 

Continuing Education: For those in professions that require ongoing education, the excitement comes from the chance to fulfill these requirements while gaining valuable insights from respected speakers. NFDA can be one of the best places to get a good variety of this type of education.  

The Events

While the primary focus of the National Funeral Directors Association Convention is on education, networking, and showcasing industry innovations, let’s not forget; it’s VEGAS BABY!  Each year NFDA offers several events for us to have a little bit of fun.  

  • Welcome Reception: Coming in on Sunday night and looking for a place to be seen? Check out the Welcome party. It’s always a great place to run into the people you expect to see and some you are surprised to run into.  
  • Networking Dinners: Often times many sponsors host different parties throughout the convention, and the NFDA also hosts The Under 40 Party (Tuesday) and a reconnect for the Professional Women’s Conference (Sunday Prior to the Welcome Party. Also, be on the lookout for an off-campus event happening on Sunday night organized by some of your favorite Raven Plume consultants.
  • Services of Remembrance: Each year NFDA remembers our lost colleagues and since the convention is taking place over 9/11, there will be a memorial for that as well.  
  • Funeral Face-Off Trivia: Saving the best for last! Before the closing session on Wednesday, join your favorite Raven Plume Blogger (me, Ben), Gabe Schauf, and Faith Haug as we host the second annual Funeral Face-Off Trivia Championship Round. Test your knowledge against the final two teams of funeral service professionals and enjoy some camaraderie as the convention wraps up.  


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