Q&A with Mary Martin

February 12, 2014 

Mary Martin

City of Residence: Centerville

Occupation: Administrative assistant, Byron Convention and Visitors Bureau and Byron Mainstreet

QUESTION: Your job makes you a greeter at the Byron Welcome Center -- how many people tend to stop by?

ANSWER: It fluctuates a lot depending on the time of year and what events are going on, but we average anywhere from 20 to 50 a day. Some days are a lot slower and some busier. Saturdays are typically slow days, which is kind of a surprise.

QUESTION: Being right off Interstate 75 in the Peach Shops at Byron must help.

ANSWER: It really does.

QUESTION: What does the welcome center offer?

ANSWER: We offer information, lots and lots of information. We’re the information center with all sorts of brochures, itineraries, and we can give directions and advice. We have discount coupons, information about restaurants and hotels and free coffee, too.

QUESTION: Is there a typical visitor to the center?

ANSWER: A type of visit. We have local people come by, we have people from neighboring communities, and of course we have visitors who are really from way out of town. When we know it’s an out-of-town visitor, we give them a welcome bag with various information, goodies, sunglasses, lip balm, different things. Also when people move here we love to help them any way we can to welcome them.

QUESTION: People must come from far and wide.

ANSWER: I’ve personally met people from Canada and Scotland recently, exchange students from different places and people from all across America. It’s great.

QUESTION: How do you greet folks? What do you tell them when they walk in?

ANSWER: Anytime someone comes in, it could be for a multitude of reasons. They may be wanting information on attractions, shopping, how to get somewhere or maybe they just want to stop and rest and hang out here for a while. We try to meet needs and don’t have a blanket approach for everyone. As soon as they come in the door we try to be welcoming and listen to them and help out however we can. Some newcomers are looking for housing,” we help them look things up. Others come in just to sit and read the paper, have a cup of coffee or use the free Wi-Fi while waiting on someone who’s shopping. We encourage that.

QUESTION: What top attractions do you mention?

ANSWER: Of course we love to tell them about Byron and historic downtown where they can see the Byron Train Depot Museum, the old jail house on Jail House Alley and of course Jail House Alley Park and North Peach Park. We direct them to our unique shops and places like Georgia Bob’s Cane River Vineyard. But we don’t just tell them about Byron but try to direct them countywide and regionally as well. A lot of people stop and ask about Andersonville. We tell people about Warner Robins and the Museum of Aviation, all the things in Perry, Macon and other spots. We’re putting together itineraries of all the day trips you can make from Byron. The Peach Antique Mall is a big draw. We have a lot of RV places to offer, RV dealers and repair shops.

QUESTION: How is the Peach Shops at Byron doing?

ANSWER: Growing. There are about 15 stores and venues with a new restaurant opening soon. The welcome center is a real community meeting place where we try to marry tourism and economic development and do all we can to make Byron better. We invite everyone to drop in and say hi and see what they may be missing.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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