NEW FOR THURSDAY: Free Gas Promotion Proposed Again

OCEAN CITY – The topic of “free gas” has returned as discussions turn toward ways to encourage visitors to come to Ocean City with gas prices predicted to rise once again.

During discussions with tourism partners this week, Councilman Brent Ashley re-visited a concept to offer a gas promotion this summer to encourage visitors to Ocean City despite raising gas prices.

Last year Ashley introduced the concept, which was eventually rejected due to reasoning that it would create a negative image.

“All of the papers are full of predictions of gas prices up to $4 to $6 a gallon,” Ashley said as he asked Tourism Advisory Board Chair Melanie Pursel and Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones if they had any interest in addressing the rise of gas prices as summer approaches.

Pursel acknowledged the fact that a gas promotion was discussed last year but explained the reasoning in why it never went through.

“We didn’t want to bring attention to something that can be negative in our visitors’ eyes,” she said. “In light of the legislative session, and all of the new taxes and potential that there is a lot of other things that are coming at Marylanders … I think we can have that discussion and see if there is something that we can do.”

Ashley suggested having Ocean City’s tourism partners view a presentation created by the town’s advertising agency, MGH, last year of a gas promotion concept that was privately viewed by the Mayor and City Council at that time, and the council unanimously agreed.

Mayor Rick Meehan did not concur. He said the way to best overcome rising gas prices is to continue focusing on the promotion of Ocean City’s long list of free events and adding value to visitor’s stays in Ocean City.

I am opposed to having everyone look at that presentation by MGH because it is proprietary and if you don’t use it there is something about it that you can’t really let it out or it ruins the impact of what it maybe can be used for on something else,” Meehan said. “So I think first we ought to collectively decide if we are looking for a gas promotion and if we are not we should not go in that direction.”

Ashley argued that he did not see a problem in letting the tourism community view the presentation.

“I just think the fact is people still want to come,” the mayor said.  “Let’s give them more of a reason to come and let’s be positive.”

In May of last year, the council voted 4-3 to approve the allocation of $100,000 from the town’s advertisement budget for a free gas giveaway promotion.

During a June closed session, MGH presented the Mayor and City Council with its concept but it was short lived as a new motion was placed by Councilwoman Mary Knight to change the town’s role in the gas giveaway.

Once the presentation was completed, the concept hit a dead end as the council voted it down.

“During closed session, there was a discussion on the gas promotion and a presentation made by MGH,” Joe Hall said at that time. “During that presentation, it was very exciting but in the end there was a motion and a vote made to alter what the perceived initial direction was given by the council for the town to actually give free gas away.”

Following the council’s decision to go against a gas promotion, Councilman Brent Ashley decided to use a portion of his City Council salary as well as financial assistance from supporting local businesses to carry on the free gas giveaway promotion.

6 thoughts on “NEW FOR THURSDAY: Free Gas Promotion Proposed Again

  1. OH HERE WE GO! Someone thinks (HAHA) there is funding available (probably from the slots revenue) and IMMEDIATE needs to spend it. History tells everyone that gimmicks are for TINY TIME thinkers. Hmmmm, I have been beating a dead horse about City Hall and TINY TIME for awhile, Hmmmm. Anyway – nix this gas talk folks – focus on the important challenges this city faces this year and over the next 5-10 years. Any thought on how to get folks to OC this year, should have been completed years ago. Need to start being proactive or your term in City Hall will be short lived! Social Media is catching on with ALL ages/demographics, TINY TIME secret thinking is…what do they say on that 4G commerical?? Oh yeah – thats SO 30 SECONDS AGO! Overlooking a cloudy Assawoman Bay, which Spring on the Way – BUSHMAN!!!!

  2. When tab and council view this proposal I’m hoping it passes quick. This is a muti media program that has a fun contest and a mid week focas. Also anything that makes a trip to oc a little more affordable can boost interest. It will be a positive way to get lots of attendsion and get people thinking about coming to oc. Nothing wrong with a little kicker to get people going. It’s not shining a light on negative it’s making lemonade out of sour topic. Gas prices are here and high. It we can sweeten the blow let’s do it.

  3. Mr Ashley’s generosity may be in part politically motivated. But predictions of $4 to $6 gas this summer will hurt business in OC even if it turns out not that bad.
    I disagree with Bushman – can he predict petroleum prices years in advance ? This needs a prompt and creative answer, and the ‘free gas’ promotion qualifies.

  4. This idea is more about promoting Councilman Ashley than Ocean City.This was poorly thoughtout last year, and only resulted in a photo-op for The Councilman and Joe Kroart. Let’s leave this to the business community,and let Mr. Ashley use his resources to clean up horse manure on the beach.

  5. It’s Time for everyone to realize that Ocean City,Md is a beautiful place to visit and everything we can do to make Ocean City,Md stand out will make for greater success this year and in future years. New ideas are exciting and are getting Ocean City,Md in the news. Everyone working together produces the greatest results!!!!!!

  6. When I heard of the free gas promotion last year, I considered a trip to O.C. with my family of four. But when I heard that the plan was scrapped I was kind of disappointed in the Mayor for canceling what I though was a good idea, and eventually our family vacationed closer to home. We still have not made definite plans for this summer, but a free gas promotion would look very attractive.

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