Ocean City has begun a search to replace current Tourism Department and Roland E. Convention Center Director Mike Noah, who is “moving on” after 13 years with the town. We see this opening as a chance for the town to take these key departments in a new direction and at least consider and debate some major changes to its structure.
Area tourism folks welcome this change at the top and are excited to see whom the town hires, hoping the new director will bring a new background, expertise and approach to Ocean City.
Ocean City would be wise not to rush to fill this vacancy and instead be diligent and exhaustive in its search. During this process, we think the city should consider making this position the Tourism Department Director and reassign convention duties.
In a day when all expenditures need to go under the microscope, Ocean City has a chance to get creative and maybe even save some money. Sources indicate the daily operations of the convention center are currently oversaw by Director of Operations David Swift, who is reportedly more than capable of continuing that job and adding some new responsibilities perhaps currently under Noah’s purview.
If that happens, we believe the city needs to make boosting the convention sales staff a priority. Currently, the city has basically one person selling the building, that’s Fred Wise, who goes by Director of Sales and Marketing. Not too long ago, there were sales representatives who traveled outside the area, selling the convention center to travel groups and leisure experts. That’s no longer the case.
If the city commits to additional sales staff, it will bring in more opportunities for the center, which sits largely dark during the week throughout the year. It has been said convention bookings are solid and that may be the case, but there’s room for more business at that facility. Sure, the weekends are solid and repeat business is keeping it booked for years to come, but there’s room to grow during the week and even to have smaller gatherings in the building’s various meeting rooms on most weekends. Add to this a new performing arts center and additional sales people could fill a valuable void outside of the music world. It’s worth pointing out major convention hotels in Ocean City employ multiple sales people to sell their much-smaller spaces than the convention center.
Under our proposal, everyone would report to the all-encompassing tourism director, who first and foremost needs to craft a detailed marketing plan for the future of the town. They will bring objectivity and evaluate everything we do in Ocean City, particularly the money spent on advertising and marketing the area. If the resort brings on someone with more of a general tourism background rather than a convention history, this may help keep funds in check that are currently being used to fund outside work. It’s worth a look.