Participants at the Travel Exchange '15 opening ceremony can spice up their breakfast with Tabasco® and hear the tale of the tangy sauce from Anthony "Tony" Avery Simmons, president and CEO of McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco brand products.
Simmons is the keynote speaker for the NTA convention's opening ceremony in New Orleans, Monday, January 19. He'll share the story of the company that's been making hot sauce since 1868 on Avery Island, Louisiana, some 140 miles west of New Orleans. The world's most famous pepper sauce, Tabasco is labeled in twenty-two languages and dialects, and sold in more than 180 countries and territories.
"Tony will give us a shot of local flavor that has global business lessons for all of our participants," said NTA President Pam Inman. "McIlhenny is a family-owned operation, and his stories will resonate with many of our members."
Simmons sees tourism as an important part of McIlhenny Company and Tabasco brand. "We're the largest tourism attraction in the region, with thousands of people touring the plant and our facilities every week," he said, adding that McIlhenny Company is planning a $5.5 million enhancement to its visitor experience on Avery Island.
Simmons, part of the fifth generation of the McIlhenny family involved in the production of Tabasco sauce and the seventh family member to lead the company, will speak to the challenges of succession planning, a topic faced by many of NTA's members involved with family-owned organizations. Simmons will also address the importance of change.
"For McIlhenny Company to continue to prosper, it's had to adapt not only to market competition, but also to the challenges of responsibly running an agricultural operation in a sensitive ecological environment," Inman said. "We all see the sauce on the table, but hearing the story of how it stays true to its peppery roots will be fascinating."
Travel Exchange will welcome members of NTA, the United Motorcoach Association, and the Faith Travel Association to conduct business appointments, attend education seminars, and enjoy networking events in the Big Easy. The event connects professionals in the packaged-travel industry from North America and thirty other countries and will run January 18 – 22 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. For more information, visit NTA's Travel Exchange website.