Can Air Show Be More Than Daytripper Event?

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Last
weekend was a memorable one in Ocean City, as numerous special events were held
simultaneously. While traffic was a nightmare at times, most accounts indicate
the events went off without a hitch and all went as smooth as could be expected
from a logistical standpoint.

According
to demoflush estimates, 205,882 came to town for the three-weekend event.
Surprisingly, that was down from the first weekend in June last year (237,347)
when the Ocean City Air Show was not held. However, it’s only the second time
in 10 years the crowds have surpassed the 200,000 mark during what is normally
a slow weekend.

Working
on the premise the organizers of the OC Car and Truck Show, the Ravens Roosts
Convention and the Air Show will want to hold their events on the same first
weekend in June next year, there needs to be some thought put into how to
exploit this weekend better. We actually think these events should be spread
out throughout the month of June in an effort to combat the kids-only mantra
that exists among many tourists.

Surely,
the Air Show is the big daily attraction for the weekend and deservedly so as
it has turned into a highlight on the resort’s special event calendar, but an
argument can be made the car show and Ravens gatherings put more heads in beds,
in restaurants and watering holes and in retail outlets throughout town.

The Air
Show is largely a daytripper event and clearly Boardwalk businesses reap the
benefits of it, and many others receive ancillary remuneration from their
tremendous in-kind donations to the event. After three years, the event is
becoming entrenched and its growing popularity is evident. Many people love
this event. It’s tremendously patriotic, and we agree it’s extremely special to
watch the Thunderbirds and other acts perform over the beach and ocean.

With a
successful event in hand, officials in government and tourism now need to turn
their attention to how to make the best of this weekend and turn its popularity
into sales for a majority of businesses rather than the current minority that
are affected.

Having
thousands of people travel to Ocean City for the day and return home after the
show should not be the goal, but that’s clearly happening, as the lodging
industry, as a whole, is feeling little effect from the event. It’s not a bad
thing to have thousands of people come to town for a three or four hours on a
weekend day, but the economic impact is not what it could be.

At this
point, the Air Show is purely a value-added event. It’s drawing people to Ocean
City for the day and enriching the experience for those who would be here no
matter what. There’s no question it’s a special weekend for Ocean City, but
it’s not significantly helping out the entire town. If this were purely a
privately funded event, that would be acceptable.

However,
considering the $50,000 the city contributes to the event and the number of
rooms Ocean City hotels donated (approximately 600 last year), more is expected
from this event. Town businesses should be reaping more fiscal benefits from
this beloved event, and the answer might come in phasing out some of the town’s
seed money and moving it to marketing this weekend across new lines as a
“wheels and wings” weekend of sorts.

In a
day when the town is examining every single expenditure, raising fees for some
operations while reducing services, there needs to be a review of this seed
money and to make sure its intent is accomplishing what it set out to do,
rather than just a simple rubber stamp because the event brings warm and fuzzy
feelings to most of us.

 

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