Miami Funer Convention Recap, How Land Use Will Impact Burial Rates, and a Funeral Director Video Game

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bill and I just got back from Miami for the Miami Funer Worldwide Funeral Industry Conference & Expo. This was the first time ever for the show, and the organizers are hoping to bring it back to Miami every two years. It was a small show though relatively well attended, and the organizers reported that over 1000 visitors from 31 countries came to visit the 70 exhibitors in the hall. There was a lot of promotion for the TANEXPO in 2018, which also happens every two years in Italy. TANEXPO is a massive show, with 250 exhibitors and 18,000 attendees. 

We saw some decent foot traffic on the first day, but when Expo hours are an all-day 9:00 am to 6:00 pm open format, things tend to feel slow regardless because any visits are spread out over the whole day. From our observations and conversations, attendees were either looking for more funeral home/cemetery consumer products or for logistics companies. That said, we met a lot of interesting and interested people who were there to learn and research, and getting an international perspective on the industry gave us a lot to think about it.

Speaking of conventions, Bill, Jordan, and I will all be in Nashville for the ICCFA 2017 Convention & Expo - stop by Booth #1224 and say hello.

Death's Real Estate Bubble

Relating to some of the content from last month, this Quartz article - "There won’t be enough room to bury millennials when they die—but the alternative is way cooler" - certainly caught my attention. The piece centers the urbanization of the world's population, and the concerns about land availability present in many cities, as a major factors in the emergent natural and alternative burial options we often write about here. It also points out the big shift coming to our industry in the next several years: by 2020, the number of people over the age of 65 will for the first time be larger than the number of children under the age of 5. Looking further to 2050, the aging population is also expected to double to nearly 1.6 billion, and 66% of the world's population will live in cities.

Looking at the 2015 CANA Cremation Statistics map, one thing to take note of is that the highest cremation rates aren't necessarily concentrated in the dense metropolitan areas, like the East Coast/Mid-Atlantic Region for example. In fact, some of the highest cremation rates were in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast, relatively spread out regions. There are so many factors that contribute to the rise of cremation, so it obviously is extremely difficult to hone in on one or two, but the Quartz piece does an excellent job highlighting the many at play: urbanization, price, ecological concerns, land constraints, etc. The latter two impact cremation as well. The piece then goes on to discuss the Urban Death Project and alternative burial practices. One of the cemeteries referenced in the Quartz piece is the world's tallest mausoleum in Santos, Brazil - the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica. 14 stories tall and set to expand, the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica is an specifically urban, if a little unique, solution to land availability concerns. You can watch a short documentary on the building here.

Play a Funeral Director in a Death-Positive Video Game

'A Mortician's Tale' is a new independent video game that tasks the player with not just preparing a body for the funeral, but engaging with family members as well. In an interview cross-published to Rolling Stone, the creators discuss the delicate balances they tried to strike between representing the profession with accuracy, tempering the gory details, and finding a unique aesthetic, all while making a game that is enjoyable to play. You can read the full conversation at Glixel.

Thanks for reading!