Hotel visitors have increased in 2022 but still lag behind pre-COVID numbers. (Pixabay)

Georgia and Sandy Springs have nearly the same number of visitors staying in hotels in 2022 as they did in 2019, the Sandy Springs Hospitality Board was told in its Dec. 15 meeting.

Visit Sandy Springs Director of Sales Myriam Hysa shared trends from the Star Report about hotels that were presented at the Georgia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus Group Sales Symposium held this month in Peachtree City.

As a state, the hotel industry is down 2% compared to 2019 numbers. Sandy Springs is minus 9%, she said.

“So, it’s still lagging but we’re less than 10% of where we were in the numbers of 2019. So that’s a very encouraging trend that we’re seeing as long as we’re touching the right markets,” Hysa said.

In September, hotel occupancy was at 70% on the weekends, Visit Sandy Springs Executive Director Jennifer Cruce said. The weekday occupancy rate – Monday through Thursday – rose 14.3% compared to last year.

“The hotels are doing well and capturing business at midweek, which is the group we wanted to see,” she said.

That wasn’t seen during the pandemic, she said.

In October, the weekday occupancy rate was up 30.3% and weekends were up 2.5%, making the month’s total occupancy rate 65.3%, Cruce said.

RevPAR – revenue per available room – rose 43.5% during midweek also, she said. RevPAR can be calculated by diving the total room revenue by total rooms available for sale.

Lifting flat revenue with new campaign

Visit Sandy Springs collected revenue that was approximately 30% of its budget after 33% of the year, Sandy Springs Finance Director Toni Carlisle told the board.

The $393,009 41 compared to last year was pretty flat, she said. In 2021 the organization had collected $382,000 during the same time.

For its ad campaigns and social media, Visit Sandy Springs is targeting Birmingham, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Greenville, Jacksonville and Nashville, Cruce said.

“We’re focusing heavily on nature and entertainment and dining and we’re trying to drive quality traffic,” she said.

Nearly 2 million visits have been delivered in digital advertising, Cruce said.

The organization will sponsor a new “Dine Like a Local” campaign starting in January in which diners at 21 local, non-chain restaurants will participate.

“We wanted the real local experience, the independently owned restaurants and so those are the ones we reached out to,” Cruce said.

Diners will need to ask for a restaurant’s code when they order their meals to enter a contest with prizes. High staff turnover and smaller staff numbers make it unlikely restaurants will have a chance to train their staff to always ask diners if they are participating.

“We’re taking a chance; it’s something different. The restaurants were very they were adamant that the Restaurant Week concept does not work, and they don’t want to discount their food,” she said.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.