Ocean City Eyes Unique Ways To Thank Visitors

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City bracelets may be the next style trend around town as the resort explores other ways to thank its visitors.

Communications Manager Donna Abbott presented the Mayor and City Council with an update of the town’s “Thank You Campaign”.

“Everybody wants to be thanked for their business and their visit,” Abbott said.

“Welcome to Ocean City Maryland” and “Thank You for Visiting” is posted all around town, according to Abbott. Entering Ocean City from Delaware on Coastal Highway visitors come across a welcoming message, as well as leaving and entering from Route 90 in mid-town, and entering and leaving on Route 50 downtown. Ocean City also has two ads on the Seaboard Media Boat welcoming and thanking beach goers.

Different businesses and organizations around Ocean City have also taken it upon themselves to thank the town’s visitors by posting it on their marquees.

Abbott presented the council with other options to continue the campaign. Silicone wristbands are 12 cents per unit if 10,000 or more are ordered, Abbott reported. The bracelets are distributed by many organizations for example, the Surfriders Foundation or the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Ocean City’s wristbands would read something close to, “Thank You for Visiting Ocean City Md.”

“We also looked at wrapped buses,” Abbott said. “A number of years ago, we had a ‘Thank You’ bus that went up and down Coastal Highway.”

The production and installation of a single wrapped bus now costs around $7,500, which would include additional artwork. A Kong display, or a display on one side of a bus would cost around $350, which also includes additional artwork.

“The over-the-street banner was another suggestion that we looked at,” Abbott said. “You see those along Baltimore Avenue and at Route 90.”

Over-the-street banners also cost $350 but will only be able to hang at approved locations on a limited basis because the town has prior approval to other organizations’ street banners.

“The mayor on all of our occasions of going out of town, our media tour … always takes a moment to thank the visitors or those viewers in those markets for visiting ocean city,” Abbott said.

Abbott suggested the mayor be involved in a video welcoming and thanking Ocean City visitors to be posted on the town’s website and it would be no cost to the town because it would be created in house.

The most expensive suggestion was to paint the 64th Street water tower that is in plain sight leaving or entering town from the Route 90 Bridge with a welcoming and thanking message. At this point, it is estimated to cost $30,000 to $50,000, and the tower is already scheduled to be repainted this fall.

“I personally like a vintage logo to be put back up on the water tower,” Abbott said.

Councilman Brent Ashley said when he first proposed the “Thank You Campaign” he suggested signs thanking visitors be posted in the comfort stations on the Boardwalk.

“We have a big expanse of walls … it is a perfect location to say ‘thank you’,” he said. “I think it is very important to build customer loyalty with a simple thank you.”

Councilman Joe Hall said an upside to the “Thank You Campaign” is to not only show appreciation to new customers but returning ones.

“It’s much easier to work on retention than to create a new customer and a lot of times we don’t recognize that,” he said. “There’s not enough attention on the retention of current customers and I think this is the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Joe Hall suggested adding the town’s website to the silicone wristbands to remind Ocean City visitors to visit the ococean.com and while on the page they can fill out a survey on their experience in the resort. Also while on the town’s website they would be reminded of upcoming special events in Ocean City to motivate an additional visit.

Joe Hall also suggested the town could sell the bracelets to local businesses at cost. He said in doing so the program would become “self-propelling” and turn into a continuing effort in saying thank you.

“Ten cents is a cheap way to say thank you,” he said. “Kids love them, people like them, and it reminds them when they get back home to go online.”

Joe Hall motioned to explore the idea of maintaining retention in the “Thank You Campaign” through distributing the silicone wristbands to visitors and by engaging the local business community in the funding aspect. He added to his motion for city staff to explore the costs of painting the 64th Street water tower and comfort station signs. The council voted unanimously to approve his motion.

“I’m happy,” Council President Jim Hall said. “You don’t realize how many thank you signs there are.”