OCEAN CITY – A new and unique tourism metric featuring a variety of sources of data was reviewed at this week’s Tourism Commission meeting.
In the past few months, the Tourism Commission has been studying other resort’s ways of measuring tourism, including the State of Maryland who uses the Maryland Tourism Monitor as a metric.
During this week’s Tourism Commission, Tourism Director Donna Abbott presented Ocean City’s own monitor of sorts with various categories of data collected from May 2013.
“It took me a little bit to grab ahold of the different facts but once we identify this is what we want it should be easier to move forward,” Abbott said.
The first category listed is weather. The information was received from the National Weather Service (NWS) records for Salisbury. Ocean City does not have a collection point from NWS.
In May of this year, the average high was 75.5 degrees and the average low was 56 degrees, with a precipitation measurement of 3.32 inches. Compared to 2012, the high was 79.2 degrees and the average low was 59 degrees, with a precipitation measurement of 2.61 inches.
In the category of tourism taxes, room tax collected for May was close to $1,083,000 compared to May 2012 when almost $1,113,000 was collected, which is a decrease of 2.68 percent. This year about $112,700 was collected in food tax compared to about $111,260 in 2012, which is a 1.29-percent increase. In admission and amusement tax, about $81,500 was collected in May compared to $84,400 in May 2012, which is a decrease of 3.4 percent. May’s sales tax numbers had not yet been released from the state’s comptroller’s office.
For the next category, lodging, data was collected from Smith Travel Research. This year May’s occupancy was set at 54 percent compared to 44.8 percent last May. The Average Daily Rate (ADR), which is a measure of the average rate paid for rooms sold, calculated by dividing room revenue by rooms sold, was $123.89 this year compared to $122.52 last year, which is a 1.1-percent increase. Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR), which is the total guest room revenue divided by the total number of available rooms, was $67.71 this year compared to $67.16 last year, which is a .8 percent increase from past year.
Web marketing results showed a .53 percent increase in unique visitors to the town’s website, ococean.com, as well as a 76.7 percent increase in users of Ocean City’s mobile app, and 18.8 percent increase in web advertising clicks.
Approximately 72,750 prospective visitors received Ocean City’s Department of Tourism e-newsletters in May. The number of subscribers grew 14 percent compared to May of last year.
In May of this year, there were almost 4,000 print advertising requests in travel information for Ocean City. There were about 12,000 Visitor Guide requests through the town’s website compared to about 9,900 last year, and there were about 2,400 phone calls made to 1-800-OC-OCEAN compared to almost 3,400 last year.
The top zip codes that requested Ocean City’s Visitor Guide were in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland.
The Visitor Center visitor stats are 4,107 this year compared to 3,314 last year.
As of May, Ocean City’s official Facebook page had 507,681 fans compared to 399,420 this time last year, and 15,428 Twitter followers compared to 11,374 this time last year.
Springfest 2013 was held at the Inlet Parking Lot from Thursday, May 2 through Sunday, May 5. Attendance was 97,021, which is down 8 percent from 2012.
In the category of transportation, bus ridership in May was 5.38 percent lower than last May.
The Inlet Parking Lot collected about $103,000 this May compared to about $128,800 last May, which is a decrease of 20.12 percent. This year there were 160 bus permits issued compared to last year when there 172 permits issued, which is a decrease of 6.98 percent.
The last category presented on the metric is Demoflush, which had been Ocean City’s way to measure tourism for years. In May of 2013, the weekend average was 166,852 compared to last year when it was 191,561, which is a decrease of 12.8 percent. The weekday average in May this year was 115,821 compared to last year when it was 125,155, which is a decrease of 7.5 percent. This year the daily average in May was 128,991 compared to last year 149,630, which is a 13.7 percent decrease.
Greg Shockley of Shenanigans Irish Pub/ Maryland Tourism Development Board suggested adding a new category of Calls for Service from Ocean City Police Department and Fire Department. Commission Chair Mary Knight also suggested adding Instagram stats to the category of Social Media.
“This should work with some tweaking along the way on a monthly basis,” Abbott said.
The final product will be presented to the full Mayor and City Council at a future work session with the month of June’s data collected.