Summer, Fall Ad Blitz Important For Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – Resort officials are looking to change their advertising trends this summer by increasing their efforts to get the word out on Ocean City deals and informing potential vacationers well through August about the resort offerings.

At a Tourism Commission meeting last week, members came together to review current advertising plans and goals for the remaining summer season, agreeing that unique steps need to be taken during the uncertain economic times.

MGH Advertising and Ocean City wrapped up their latest advertising campaign last month, with the “end of the world” campaign. MGH President Andy Malis reported that the firm would be continuing with three more weeks of radio coverage, to continue through the week of July 21.

The radio spots will include one-week of the current spot, the “end of the world” spot, followed by two weeks of a follow-up spot that aims to focus more on the deals available in Ocean City. “A more direct approach, not so much tongue and cheek,” said Malis.

Mayor Rick Meehan and Public Relations Director Donna Abbott reported the success of the mayor’s recent media tour in Washington D.C., which took place the last week in June. The mayor appeared on a variety of radio and television shows, making sure to emphasize the deals and proximity of Ocean City. Both Meehan and Abbott noted that D.C. was very receptive of Ocean City this year. Meehan added that Ocean City is being included in the D.C. “staycation”.

“Staycation” has become a buzzword this summer, with many people opting to stay home or closer to home for summer vacations this year in an effort to save money. With Ocean City only a tank of gas away, the resort has been included in the list of “staycation” options for D.C. residents.

Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant-Association, noted the importance of emphasizing proximity and value for the remainder of the summer.

Economic Development Committee Chairman Dr. Lenny Berger highlighted the importance of radio advertisement, particularly amongst potential vacationers who have not yet decided where they will vacation.

“This is the time for an enhanced radio program,” said Berger, who owns the Clarion Resort. “The vacation pie is smaller and for us to get a bigger slice we have to work harder.”

Several commission members agreed that the changing vacation trends make it imperative to keep advertising trends current.

For many years, the key advertising time was April through June, as the majority of vacationers would plan ahead for vacations, making reservations well in advance. As a result, July and August advertising was scarce and considered unnecessary.

However with vacationers now making reservations just days in advance and for shorter amounts of time, reaching potential vacationers in the middle and end of the summer could be crucial, particularly during a summer of economic uncertainties and rising gas prices.

Ocean City Development Corporation President Greg Shockley, who owns Shenanigans on the Boardwalk, said he was worried about the crowds in the fall, a time of year that has grown to relied upon by local businesses.

“I have some concerns about the fall,” said Shockley.

Shockley suggested continuing advertising coverage to keep vacationers interested in Ocean City in the fall and to keep them informed of the special events, great bargains, warm ocean temperature and wonderful weather.

The commission voted unanimously to extend the Internet and radio advertising in hopes of keeping Ocean City in the minds of potential vacationers.

“If there was ever a time that it’s important, it’s this year,” said Berger.