Even in an industry as tried-and-true as tortillas, a little change can go a long way. And the Tortilla Industry Association (TIA) is reaping the benefits as the association moves its annual convention, to be held May 17-19, to Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Valley Center, CA, near San Diego. This is the first time it has held the convention in California, and according to TIA CEO Jim Kabbani, the move has been well-received — exhibitor space is already 100% sold out.

“Typically, exhibitor participation is our leading indicator for how successful the show will be,” Mr. Kabbani said, “and the exhibitors get it; they know this is going to be a great event in a great location.”

The strategy behind the move had to do with bringing the convention to an area with a high concentration of tortilla manufacturers. “There are a lot of tortilla companies in Southern California, and by having the convention there, we hope to attract people who might not otherwise attend,” Mr. Kabbani explained. “We’re putting it in their back yard.”

Additionally, the association chose the Harrah’s resort for the outstanding amenities it offers attendees, including numerous places to meet and network with one another, such as a number of on-site restaurants and night clubs as well as a casino. “In Las Vegas, attendees would scatter to different shows and restaurants throughout the city, and many of them never saw one another outside of the convention,” Mr. Kabbani said. “This year, attendees will have a chance to interact at this convention more than at any other TIA event. They’ll see one another at the pools, the restaurants, the casino — everywhere.”   

TIA plans to take full advantage of the Southern California climate by hosting events such as the opening reception on May 17 at one of the resort’s three pool areas, where the eight leading exhibitors will have hospitality areas inside poolside cabanas. On May 18, the banquet entertainment will feature renowned Hispanic comedian Paul Rodriguez.

Education sessions will cover topics that include business succession strategies for family-owned companies, commodities, PHO replacement, enzymes, legislative issues and immigration.

TIA has enlisted a new online registration provider — cvent — which offers a new feature that allows users to suggest the convention to friends and colleagues by sending an email upon completed registration. For more information and to register, visitwww.tortilla-info.com.