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By Edward J Defort, editor-in-chief of The Director magazine for the National Funeral Directors Associacion, who is covering funeral service since 1996
Sometimes the mainstream media will get a hold of one an unusual funeral or memorialization ceremony and it gets splashed all over the internet. While it is interesting that the media is spreading the word about these different types of services that funeral directors can help arrange for families, the truth is that these events have more of an extreme bent. Also, the extreme nature of some of these events only serve to dismiss the concept in their minds because they don't really want to go that far or that elaborate.
Remember about 10-15 years ago, we kept hearing how hotels are going to start working the funeral home side of the street and to host lavish memorials. For many year’s pundits were suggesting that hotels would be the new go-to location for services that the public might believe are beyond the scope of the local funeral home.
However, the data once again suggests that this is not happening. According to the most recent statistics, the 2021 NFDA Consumer Awareness & Preferences Study, just over half of respondents, 51.5% have attended a funeral at a non-traditional location, which was down from 55.7%. last year, and 54.6 % in 2019. These numbers have been consistent over the years.
According to the survey, the most common locations included a cemetery/gravesite, selected by 48.5% of respondents; followed by a home, 15.1%; an outdoor setting such as a park or beach, 9%: and a public venue at 8.9% .To a lesser degree, banquet halls were cited by 6.7%. of respondents, followed by hotels, 5.8%; the country club, 4.8%; or other, 3.9%.
Public venues, banquet halls and country clubs have shown considerable growth as a venue for a memorial service. All the talk about other businesses getting into funeral service always likes to point to hotels. It has created fear, but it hasn't really happened on a large scale. The real competitors are vendors we well know, public venues, banquet halls and country clubs – these are the more compelling challengers. But do they have to be seen as competitors?
Read full article in the spring issue of THANOS magazine - you can read online at pages 19-20