NFDA?s Asia Funeral Expo & Conference Shows Continued Growth

June 28, 2010
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imageAttendance at the National Funeral Directors Association?s (NFDA) third annual Asia Funeral Expo & Conference (AFE), held May 13-15 in Hong Kong, increased by 15%, to 2,300 funeral professionals representing 43 countries, regions and territories.

?Having attended AFE since its inception in 2008, I am pleased to see how this gathering has grown,? said NFDA President William C. Wappner, CFSP. ?AFE is quickly becoming recognized throughout the world as a ?must-attend? event because of its outstanding educational offerings. The caliber of workshops is on par with the world?s best funeral service conventions. This event gives funeral professionals from Australia, Italy, the United States and beyond, an opportunity to build meaningful relationships, share ideas, and solve common challenges, which ultimately leads to improved service to the bereaved.?

In total, 22 workshops were presented at AFE. Wappner participated in a panel discussion with funeral professionals from Canada, China and Australia about raising the bar on professionalism in funeral service. NFDA President-elect Patrick Lynch spoke about grief and bereavement services in the United States. Cremation Association of North America President William B. McQueen, CFSP, spoke about cremation arranging. Craig Caldwell, of The Dodge Company, hosted a well-attended workshop on embalming difficult cases.

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Other workshop topics included: green funerals, cosmetology, international funeral customs, preneed, funeral home marketing, disaster management and cemetery management.

At approximately 6,000 square meters, the AFE exposition was 25% larger than last year. The global showcase included 150 exhibiting companies representing 19 countries, regions and territories. Five companies and two associations from the United States were present at the exposition: Cremation Association of North America, Crematory Manufacturing & Service, Inc., Lifemark Group, Nce-Crawford Emcotek, National Funeral Directors Association, and Passages International.

The exposition included a wide variety of products and services, including: caskets and urns made from a variety of materials; tombstones, monuments and other gravemarkers; equipment and machinery used in cemetery, mortuary and crematory operations; keepsake and memorial products; technology consultants; advance funeral planning solutions; repatriation sources; and many other business-building ideas ? particularly important given the state of today?s global economy.

?AFE features a full-spectrum of activities ? including an extensive expo displaying a variety of exhibitors, a conference program that explores professionalism and green trends, [and] visits and tours ? all of which provided a great platform for western and eastern funeral professionals to network and exchange ideas and practices,? said Deanne McLeod, CEO of the Australian Funeral Directors Association.

Second Annual Asia Senior Fair a Success

AFE also featured the second annual Asia Senior Fair, a concurrent, but separate event for consumers. Approximately 3,000 people attended the Asia Senior Fair, 1,000 more people than 2009?s event. In addition to examining a wide array of funerary products and services, consumers also had an opportunity to meet with businesses that provided other end-of-life products and services, such as hospices and medical supply companies. Attendees could also participate in workshops covering a variety of funeral service-related topics.

The success of the Asia Senior Fair inspired NFDA leaders to develop an educational event for consumers that will be held in conjunction with the 2010 International Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. NFDA?s consumer education event will be held October 9, and will feature funeral directors speaking about the value of a funeral, ways families can plan personal and meaningful funerals, and tips for making educated decisions when planning a funeral; an attorney will speak about ways families can get their financial house in order. Additionally, consumers will be able to view informational displays that illustrate the many options available for planning a personal and meaningful funeral.

Global Connections Connect Members with Information, Resources

?In communities across the United States ? no matter how large or small your business ? you will soon face the challenge of serving families from another country, whose religious beliefs, customs, funeral traditions and expectations may be unlike anything you?ve ever encountered,? said Wappner. ?NFDA has built a reputation as a global leader in funeral service by participating in funeral service conventions, expositions and other meetings in Europe, Central and South America and Asia. Just as we have done in the United States, NFDA is actively working to help raise professional and ethical standards around the world.?

Wappner also noted that the global connections NFDA has made allow its staff to quickly and easily provide members with a wealth of information and resources they can use to meet the evolving needs of those they serve. One specific example of this is repatriation.

?Many funeral professionals turn to NFDA for help navigating the many laws and requirements for both shipping a body to another country for burial or bring a body back to the U.S. for funeral services,? said Wappner. ?When time is of the essence for the families we serve, having a reliable source of information and assistance with repatriation issues is crucial; NFDA is proud to be a resource on repatriation ? and many other issues involved in serving a diverse population ? for its members.?

NFDA will co-host the 2011 Asia Funeral Expo & Conference, May 19-21, at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Funeral service professionals or suppliers interested in participating should contact NFDA Director of International Relations Deborah Andres at +1-262-789-1880 or dandres@nfda.org.

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