OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City and the Chamber of Commerce came to an agreement this week to merge each entity’s tourism publication into one joint book that will not only create a single message, but will also save the town a substantial amount of money.
By merging the “Sea for Yourself” guide and the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce “Ocean City Maryland Vacation” guide, Ocean City will save upwards of $95,000 and ease expenses on the business community, which, in the past, has purchased advertisements in both publications.
“This has been discussed for many years, and we’ve finally come to an understanding to merge the two,” said Assistant Tourism Director Debbie Travers. “What this does is save the business community money, streamlines the fulfillment process and puts it all under one umbrella and message.”
Chamber of Commerce President Todd Ferrante said the town needed a “single-message” tourism guide and not the mixed message created by the presence of two different publications.
“We plan on working together with the town and sharing ideas to make this a great publication so this is a win-win for everyone,” said Ferrante. “This move will improve the quality of the book and showcase Ocean City for what it is.”
The agreement between the town and the chamber was outlined in a 29- item MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), which the council voted unanimously to approve, showing the split in responsibilities for the new guide.
The town will have creative control over the design and editorial content in the publication, and will pay for the cost of the design and the layout as well. In addition, the town will pay the chamber a fee per fulfilled requests from the new town website (www.ococean.com) and the 1-800-OCOCEAN hotline.
In comparison, the chamber will handle the printing, postage and handling costs, as well as the bulk distribution of the publication, which according to Ferrante, “will increase and will be extended farther north in order to get the word out about Ocean City in new markets.”
The chamber will also sell all the advertisements in the book and will retain all the revenue, according to the MOU.
The merger was welcomed with open arms from the council, who agreed that it was a long time coming.
“This is wonderful,” said Councilwoman Margaret Pillas. “I’m glad that this is finally going to happen.”
Mayor Rick Meehan gave a nod to Councilman Joe Hall, who has been pushing for this merger since he started serving the Ocean City community in 2000.
“Joe, you have been talking about this since you started on the council and you should be proud of where we are today,” said Meehan. “Sometimes good things take time, and this is one of those things, especially when it’s private enterprise and the city working together, which has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years.”
Although the town has the official “final say” in the content of the new book, Ferrante noted that the chamber will have a voice in the content and that both the town and the chamber will have an equal visual presence in the new tourism guide.
The town and the chamber will both come to an agreement on how many publications will be printed, and the number of pages in the book has also yet to be determined.
In comparison, the Sea For Yourself guide was 120 pages in 2008, but chopped to 88 pages for 2009 during October’s budget cuts. The chamber’s Ocean City Maryland Visitor’s Guide in 2008 had 136 pages.
Regardless, the mayor said that the merger is a better move for all involved parties.
“Not only will we have a first-class piece, and not only will it go out to more people, but it will also be saving the town of Ocean City and the business community money, and creates revenue for the Chamber of Commerce,” said Meehan.