By Leader Editor Kara Apel

The Cremation Association of North America is taking its convention and trade show online for the first time ever next week.

The 102nd Annual Cremation Innovation Convention and Trade Show — which will include exhibits, networking, and continuing education — will be held in a virtual-only format on the event management platform PheedLoop on Aug. 5 and 6.

Earlier this week, The Funeral Leader got a sneak peek at CANA’s virtual format, which will allow attendees, presenters, and exhibitors to connect via video and text chat without ever having to leave the website.

When guests attend one of CANA’s featured webinars, they’ll be able to see a full list of all the participants who are in the same virtual room as them. The platform also allows participants to initiate a one-on-one conversation with anyone who is involved in the convention.

Although the trade show is being moved to a digital format, attendees will still be able to peruse all of the offerings. Each exhibitor will have a section available on the platform for attendees to read more about them or to watch their video content. Attendees also have the ability to enter a vendor’s virtual booth and interact with them right away, just as they would at an in-person event.

This screenshot shows what the convention attendees will see when they log in.

There will also be fun and games. CANA will be hosting a scavenger hunt throughout the convention, allowing participants the chance to win prizes.

CANA Executive Director Barbara Kemmis said this upcoming virtual convention is shaping up to be the largest convention the association has ever hosted.

While CANA is one of the first in the deathcare industry to host a fully online convention, Kemmis says they haven’t been alone in this journey. She said there have been many industry associations and organizations across the country who have been working together to share best practices and tips with one another during this time of pivoting.

Kemmis said the format of each virtual experience will depend upon what the organization prioritizes the most. She said CANA’s number one priority with their convention remains the same as it has always been — making sure participants are able to network. Although everyone will be online, she said it was important to CANA to be able to still cultivate that “bumping into each other” way of connecting that everyone has become so accustomed to.

“Virtual is not the same as in person, but it can be the next best thing and really our only safe option through 2020,” she said.

Kemmis noted that if potential attendees are unsure about using a virtual platform that there’s never a better time than now to try it out. Click here for registration details.

Below is a list of the featured speakers and topics:

  • Unifying on Common Ground: It’s Now or Never – Codi Shewan, Keynote
  • “Witness Cremation Ceremonies” – Heather Braatz, Worsham College of Mortuary Science
  • “Digital Identity Theft – Tales from the Crypt” – William Newman, Withum
  • Bouncing Back After COVID-19: Strategies to Heal & Thrive in Life & Business” – Dr. Jason Troyer, GriefPlan
  • “10 First Steps for Adding Cremation to Your Business” – Thomas Krowl, Cremation Systems (Division Armil/CFS, Inc.)
  • Cremation During COVID-19: A Discussion with Three Last Responders from the Front-Line Moderated by Larry Stuart, Jr. with Sandra Walker (Pacific Northwest Cremation in Spokane, WA), Jon Rettig (Family Care Cremation Services in Columbiana, OH), and Jim Koslovski (Rosedale & Rosehill Cemetery Association in Linden, NJ)

While this may be the first time CANA is hosting a convention virtually, they’ve been offering their Crematory Operations Certification Program online for four years. Kemmis said they’ve seen unprecedented growth in their online courses this year.

Started in 1913, CANA is an international organization with over 3,300 members, including professionals from funeral homes, cemeteries, crematories, suppliers, and consultants.

For more information about CANA’s upcoming convention, visit their website here:

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