ICCFA 2016 New Orleans Recap

Thursday, May 19, 2016

We know not everyone gets a chance to make it to the ICCFA Convention each year. It's the largest in the industry, but not necessarily always in the most convenient location. The 2016 Expo was in New Orleans - one of my favorite places to visit - and by some early estimates from the organizers it was the largest show the ICCFA has had to date. 

The size has it's disadvantages as well, at least from an attendee's perspective. Being the marquee trade show attracts both the big companies and the much, much smaller independent vendors looking for some visibility. Prestige and size do not always equate to value. It's obviously a slightly different decision for a supplier to make - for our business, it is important that people see us and know we are there, and it gives us a good opportunity to touch some customers we don't get to see as regularly. It can provide good insight into the general direction of the industry. Plus, the ICCFA is a great resource, and an organization we are proud to support.

Every year at the ICCFA, the presence of green burial seems to increase. More vendors, new products and services, more seminars and discussions around the issue. I would imagine as cemetery professionals you have had it impact your day-to-day in some fashion - whether that is a customer actually walking in and inquiring about green burial or just coming across an article like the one in the New York Times last month. I found this short article from FuneralOne to be a nice primer on green burials.

We have written about the Urban Death Project's vision for compost-friendly and community-oriented cemeteries, which was just profiled in the April issue of American Cemetery & Cremation magazine. The Infinity Burial Suit (which uses mushrooms to process toxins after burial) debuted this year at the ICCFA Convention and was kind of the focus of that NYT article mentioned above. We've also covered a space-conscious niche cemetery in Japan that utilizes small, identical 3D printed monuments, which in a way embraces a kind of green thinking about death - considering space limitations, environmental impact, changing demographics and shifts in how, where, and what people memorialize.

This is not a green burial blog. Ensure-A-Seal isn't even in the green burial business! Not yet at least. But I think the I think because it is an area of the death care that has been/is being influenced by companies from outside the industry. A new frontier growing at a pace that is uncommon in this industry. Trends come and go, but the real game is to try and figure out what is going to have staying power.

Like we said earlier, the organizers were initially reporting that this was one of the biggest turnouts the ICCFA has ever had for the annual Expo. It's hard to really tell when you go every year, but this year seemed to have steady foot traffic throughout the vendor hours, which is a good sign. They are making tweaks to the show hours, as well as trying to draw more attendees to the opening night reception. 

Disrupt Media's booth was really popular, for good reason - the team over there puts out a ton of free content on their website all the time - and they are really pushing funeral professionals to understand and utilize social media for their business. When we were able to take a few breaks, I walked around and just snapped some photos of the show that are posted see throughout and below. Some of the more eye-catching things included: a full cremation machine in the hall, Trey Ganem's custom casket designs, and SaveMyInk.tattoo, a service to preserve your loved one's body art. For now, we are looking forward to 2017 show in Charlotte, North Carolina.