Small Market Meetings November 2020

Page 16


“It’s how people know who you are — leadership is all about your relationships, and your employees will make or break you.”




n high school, Albert Herrera, now interim senior sales manager at Visit Las Cruces, was lured by the hospitality industry promise of working in hotels around the world. Raised in the small town in New Mexico, Herrera loved being in hotels and restaurants from a young age and always gravitated to them. “I think when I was little, it was because hotels had a pool and I didn’t,” he said. “But really, I loved going through hotels, exploring, looking at the amazing lobbies.” When a college class he was enrolled in invited someone from Disney to talk about the roles needed to run “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Herrera was drawn to the broad range of job options and registered for classes in restaurant and hotel hospitality and tourism. “I just fell in love with it,” he said. “After that I applied at a local hotel as a front desk agent and worked my way up from there.” As a lifelong local now representing his hometown at the convention and visitors bureau, Herrera has an inside advantage. “The No. 1 question I get is where to go to eat that’s not a franchise or a tourist spot, but a local spot,” he said. “We tend to forget what we have in our own backyard — I didn’t look at my city when I was 18 the way I look at it now, and it really opens up your eyes to share it with others.” He loves being able to send visitors to places that still have a small-town feel, where the owner comes out to greet you or is cooking in the back.


“Sometimes you lose that quality in bigger cities,” he said. “When you have it, it’s really, truly amazing. We’ve kept that here, even though we have a new infrastructure and new developments. The city has probably doubled in size since I was a kid. Even if you’re seeing places that are new, there’s that ability to talk to owners and locals who are friendly and willing to share their town with everybody.” When meeting planners visit Las Cruces, they aren’t typically looking for the flash of bigger cities, but for those niche towns that are going to offer a personal connection and a one-of-a-kind experience that becomes a key component of the conference. Herrera loves to tailor meetings and conferences with memorable, tactile components that will stick with the participants and create lasting memories. “At the CVB, we’re working with the meeting planners to come up with things they can do pre- and post-meeting, and everybody is different,” he said. “We typically give them three itineraries that guests can do on their own, and on top of that, we can design some around special interests.” Herrera loves coordinating experiences that have a cultural connection to the region, like traditional Mexican cooking classes or touring a living history museum where docents are in costume. “New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment because once people come here and fall in love with it, they don’t want to leave,” said Herrera. “At this point, I’m exactly where I need and want to be — representing my city — and that’s absolutely awesome.”

EXECUTIVE PROFILE NAME Albert Herrera TITLE Interim Senior Sales Manager ORGANIZATION Visit Las Cruces LOCATION Las Cruces, New Mexico BIRTHPLACE El Paso, Texas EDUCATION Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, Tourism Management, New Mexico State University CAREER HISTORY • Front desk, director of sales and general manager at various New Mexico hotels • Sales manager at Visit Las Cruces since 2008