As a vendor, I am ethically required to tell you that conventions are all about seeing new products and buying them, usually with great convention-only discounts.

But as a realist, I know that conventions are really about human interaction.

There are less expensive ways to get CEU’s than to travel hundreds of miles and stay in a hotel overnight.  Seminars can be broadcast on the Internet, boards and committees can travel separately to central locations to steer their organizations.  Trade magazines can run “virtual expos” in their pages and invite readers to see the newest products and services.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Tancread

So why do we attend conventions and why do I suggest you make an effort to attend at least one each year?

Because we get to see old friends, make new ones and stay connected to the “bigger picture.”

During the 5.5 hours of the IFDF Convention Expo, I heard “Well I haven’t seen you in a long time!” and “John, you old son-of-a-gun!  How you been?” and “How’s your year been so far?”

I even had several sales interrupted by an old friend bumrushing my potential customer.  There’s not much I can do but step back and wait for them to get reaquainted before I launch back into my pitch.  I handled one such meeting so well that the original prospect turned to his old friend and made her buy a cover for her funeral home.

For all our technology (Internet, cellphones, video conferencing, etc.) there’s still a part of our human heart that desires a gathering.  That’s why, despite rising oil costs, people still go to restaurants, thousands of people mob the movie theater for opening day of a big movie and why college kids go to parties every weekend.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Vit Hassan

Even nomadic people, like the Umm Bororo tribe (pictured above) gather for special events.  The photo above is from a wedding party.

Besides the chance to see new products and services, the continuing education credits, the opportunity to meet well-known experts in the industry and the time spent with old and new friends, a trade convention reconnects the attendees with the industry at-large.

So much of what we do as funeral professionals is singular and isolated.  Most funeral directors pay little attention to anything that isn’t in their service area, which can be as little as 1-square mile in dense areas.  I even overheard one Florida funeral director say that his attention span extends in a 50-mile radius from his firm; past that, he doesn’t care.

Unfortunately for that director, his consumers pay attention to a lot more in the world.  And he should, at the very least, keep his ears open for changes in his own industry.

And a great way to keep on top of his industry with very little daily effort is to attend a convention.

They’re surprisingly inexpensive, so check one out.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user keepthebyte

We’ll be attending the Mid-Western Trade Show at the Kentucky FDA Convention in Louisville at the end of this month.  If you’re close to Louisville, come visit us.  We’ll also be hosting a “mort dinner” (read about it in our post, What’s a “Mort Dinner”?) and Final Embrace will buy a meal for the first 5 blog readers who pre-register for the dinner.  Details to follow.