OCEAN CITY – The OC Experience turned out to be hit at travel shows this year, according to the town’s tourism officials.
During a Tourism Commission meeting on Monday afternoon, Tourism Director Donna Abbott presented survey results collected by the OC Experience during its tour of four different travel shows in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Columbus, Ohio.
The OC Experience is a 10-foot by 20-foot, three-panel portable booth with a high-definition television in each panel. One of the televisions plays nostalgic footage of vintage Ocean City from years past, while another shows videos of all the resort has to offer now. The middle panel television offers Internet-based, interactive content providing access to information about where to stay, where to eat and what to do while visiting Ocean City.
‘I can tell you our booth looked better than anyone’s,” Abbott said.
When travel show attendees visit the OC Experience, they would enter to win a vacation in Ocean City by filling out a survey on an iPad that collected information on potential visitors.
The survey collected 827 email addresses breaking into 288 from Baltimore’s show, 202 from Philadelphia’s show, 202 from D.C.’s show and 135 from Columbus’s show. There were a total of 3,600 Visitor Guide books distributed with the most being in Columbus and Baltimore.
“We didn’t bring any home, let’s put it that way,” Abbott said. “They were all given out.”
The majority of respondents was female, age 35-64 and married. Respondents had primarily visited Ocean City one to five times, 31 percent, or six to 20 times, 32 percent, although 43 percent have never visited Ocean City. For the trip being researched at the show, 40 percent plan to travel as a couple while 35 percent plan to travel as a family with children.
The first travel show the OC Experience attended was in Philadelphia where 34 percent of the respondents have household incomes of $50,000 to $74,999, and 33 percent have household incomes of $75,000 to $149,000. Abbott explained attendees became reserved with the question and it was removed for the other shows.
Brad Hoffman of Spark Productions added while at the travel show in Columbus with the OC Experience he found most people did not know Ocean City was closed than Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head.
“So a lot of their vacation push was to that area,” he said. “They did not know a drive to Ocean City, Md. is nine hours when the other drive is about 12 hours.”
A questionnaire was emailed to attendees following the show and out of those who responded 72 percent found information that helped them make a decision where to go at the travel show, about 94 percent found the OC Experience made them more likely to plan a trip to Ocean City, 14 percent had already planned or booked a vacation to Ocean City this year and 55 percent responded they plan to visit Ocean City this year.
“Some people said it was a very sophisticated way to market our destination,” Hoffman said.
As to OC Experience’s future, Abbott said she would like to examine the dynamics of the travel shows more carefully and mix up the locations.
“I would definitely want to keep doing the D.C. show,” Abbott said. “I just think that show is well rounded, and well promoted …”