RevPAR may not be a term you commonly toss out in conversation, but it’s one that Byron Perryman thinks about a lot. Perryman is General Manager at the Wyndham Peachtree Hotel & Conference Center and also serves on the board of the Peachtree City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. He and Nancy Price, Executive Director of the CVB, recently sat down with Fayette County News to discuss some positive trends in RevPAR figures and what they mean for tourism in the city.
The industry term RevPAR means revenue per available room, and Perryman said it is a commonly used performance metric for the hotel industry.
“It’s very important that the revenue we bring in for the guest rooms in any hotel increases year over year,” Perryman said.
For Peachtree City, the recent news on this front is good. Over the last year RevPAR across the 837 rooms in the city’s seven hotels has increased 19.7-percent, a rate of growth Perryman said is “outstanding.”
Perryman said that, while the city is a relatively small hotel market, it has shown the second best improvement in RevPAR growth of Atlanta’s sixteen submarkets in the first quarter of this year as compared to last.
To sustain a healthy RevPAR, hotels have to bring in regular business, and this is done in a variety of ways. One recent example that the CVB coordinated was the Diva Half Marathon and 5K that brought nearly 4,000 runners from around the country and even the world. Those runners came to wear gaudy pink outfits and test their endurance, but they also filled the city’s hotels and enjoyed the available retail and restaurants.
Price and Perryman both also found that Peachtree City left an impression on many of the runners who were here for the first time.
“Everyone I spoke to had never been on golf cart paths, and they were blown away. Every single one of them said I could not believe this was hidden, and we’ve never known about it. Over and over again. And I said so, will you return? Every single one of them said absolutely we’re going to return,” Perryman said.
The Diva Run qualifies as a “city-wide” for Peachtree City, another industry term Perryman said refers to the type of major events that draw people to an area and bolster a variety of businesses within the city. He said Atlanta, for example, had 19 events this year that qualified as city-wides, many of them multi-day events.
“Hotels with a healthy RevPAR always have city-wides. Well, in a town our size, we don’t have that opportunity. We don’t have a major convention center down here, for example, so how do you get a city-wide here? Well, the Diva is a perfect example of that kind of event. It fills the restaurants, fills the community, all the other services are full. That’s the type of business that makes sense here,” Perryman said.
Price has many years of experience promoting Peachtree City with the CVB and as manager of the Fred Amphitheater. Price said the Diva was “hugely successful” and will return next year. She said the city is being careful with events of this type, not wanting to unduly impact residents, but striving to bring in the ones that are conducted most professionally by the event organizers. She said the current attitude at City Hall is more open to these types of events than it used to be.
“The city in prior years wasn’t as receptive to bringing in events of this magnitude, but they have been hugely receptive, and that’s been led by our Mayor, that change of feeling,” Price said, crediting Mayor Vanessa Fleisch. “We just had the buy-in and cooperation of every single department.”
In addition to the high profile events like Diva, Perryman said corporate business continues to be an important and growing driver for Peachtree City hotels, particularly at the Wyndham, Dolce, and Hilton.
“Fortune 500 companies come here all the time,” Perryman said. “Dolce, Wyndham, and Hilton have been very successful with that, but it’s all under the radar. It’s amazing how many business world VIPs come here and stay. They come from all over the world. We’re picking up at the international airport daily.”
Of course, the presence of the film and television industry in Fayette County is another source of potential interest for visitors. The hit AMC show “The Walking Dead” has created a small cottage industry for “Walker Stalker” tourism in Senoia, where the show is primarily filmed.
Perryman and Price both confirm that Walking Dead tourism “is a real thing,” and that it attracts a younger type of crowd in their twenties and thirties. Price felt the Diva run also attracted young people, which could provide ancillary benefits for a city and county in which the need to attract young people/families is often discussed.
“We had a lot of young women participate in that, women who could come here and see our city and see what a perfect place it would be to raise their family,” Price said. “So, hopefully, we’re sparking that interest in them and they’ll want to move to Peachtree City. That’s really not our mission because we’re about the visitor, but as a long time resident, you know, I don’t want to just see [the city] gray.”
The CVB will continue to focus on events that “make sense” for the city, Price said, adding that big events will be limited as the focus should still be “for the residents, and we know that.”