Visitors bureau seeks to put 'heads on beds'

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- For the past four years, Liz Gray has been manager of sales and public relations for the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau. Her job, she says, is to "put heads on hotel and motel beds" in the Albany area.

On Thursday, Gray addressed Albany Rotary Club members at the Doublegate Country Club, giving an overview of the CVB and her function with the organization.

The CVB is in place to produce revenue for the region by promoting Albany and the surrounding areas.

Gray is the only person at the bureau with an outside sales job, she said.

For its funding, the CVB receives half of a special 7 percent city tax on all hotel and motel rooms rented in Albany.

Through the CVB website, www.VisitAlbanyGa.com, and other sources, Gray makes contacts with various event groups, such as conventions, weddings or reunions, often arranging bids for local hotel rooms or facilities. The abundance of natural and commercial attractions in the Southwest Georgia are tools toward her success, Gray said.

One of Gray's favorite targets for creating large blocks of revenue is visiting motorcoaches. In addition to other methods, she isn't at all shy about approaching the large vehicles on foot or even chasing after them.

"They (the motorcoaches) are usually parked or moving kind of slow," Gray said. "I have been known to literally run after them, waving at the driver."

According to Gray, a motorcoach filled with people can generate up to $6,000 in revenue when everyone stays overnight.

Occasionally, Gray will "wine and dine" groups of travel writers -- journalists who visit and write about various locations for travel magazines.

There is a company she works with that locates the writers and "makes all the arrangements" to bring them to Gray and to Albany, she said.

The Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau is located at the historic Bridge House on Front Street.