Hazel Hernandez has always enjoyed travel and its impact on others. And when she determined nursing wasn’t for her, the Mena native switched her major to hospitality administration.
“The more I looked into it, the more I fell in love with the degree, and I changed my major,” she said. “I had really good teachers and mentors in that program at Arkansas Tech University who just gave me not only an education but also real-life experience.”
After completing an internship at the North Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, she remained with the organization for five years.
In 2013, she moved to Northwest Arkansas to accept a convention sales position for the Fayetteville Convention & Visitors Bureau, which has since been rebranded to Experience Fayetteville.
Hernandez was charged with Experience Fayetteville’s rebranding — launched in 2017 — and marketing campaign “Find Away.” Since the rebrand, website traffic increased 35% in 2019, from 2016, and Advertising & Promotion tax collections rose to a record of $3.7 million in 2019.
She was promoted to her current role in 2019 and leads three employees. She oversees the marketing and sales team, manages the marketing plan and ad buys, and ensures the organization remains on brand. She also works with the sales team on sales plans and attracts meetings, conventions and sports tournaments.
Since the start of the pandemic, she’s overseen the “Spend a Little, Help a Lot” campaign that supports Fayetteville restaurants. She also helped develop the #FayettevilleTogether page, which has been an information source for hospitality industry workers affected by the pandemic.
She serves on the Ozark Literacy Council’s board of directors and supports the Fayetteville Film Festival and Northwest Arkansas Film Commission.