New Stay United, 2nd Dine United Campaigns Detailed

OCEAN CITY – Officials with a local nonprofit are creating a spinoff campaign to accompany a budding restaurant competition.

In last week’s Economic Development Committee (EDC), Olivia Momme and Casey Decker of the United Way presented members with an opportunity to join Ocean City’s 2nd Annual Dine United and inaugural Stay United campaigns.

Last year, United Way kick started a fundraiser that partnered the nonprofit with restaurants across Ocean City. Each participating restaurant was tasked with creating a unique fundraiser that would raise money for United Way in exchange for publicity. Whichever business raised the most money at the end of the season won.

“Restaurants picked how they wanted to fundraise and keep track of it through their computer system, so very little work to them,” Momme said. “In turn, we gave them a ton of free PR, radio commercials, TV commercials, newspaper ads, e-marketing, anything you can imagine.”

The Dine United OC competition, brainchild of The Embers Restaurant and Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar Vice President Cole Taustin, raised more than $44,000 for United Way and brought together 25 restaurants. Officials now have plans to continue the competition for another year.

“So we’re about to kick off our second year,” Momme said. “Our goal is to get as many restaurants on board by May 1 so we can get all the marketing together before we officially kick off June 1.”

As a result of last summer’s successful campaign, United Way officials are also taking the idea and bringing it to Ocean City hotels.

“It’s basically the same concept but it’s with hotels,” Momme said. “So you just factor in your rate increase and keep track of it through your computer system. Again, we give you a ton of PR just to let everyone know that you are community minded.”

Decker explained that the competition is an easy way for business owners to participate. For example, she said Francis Scott Key Family Resort owner Annemarie Dickerson, who is spearheading the Stay United campaign, plans to take a percentage of the hotel’s rates and donate it to United Way, an idea she projects will raise $5,000.

“We really have it designed to be a win-win,” she said, “very fun, very easy.”

Both Momme and Decker encouraged business owners at the EDC meeting to consider entering the competition for their community.

“What we rely on is people helping people,” Decker said. “That’s how we are putting $1.4 million into the community. That’s why this restaurant and hotel competition is so important for our United Way.”

Also in the EDC meeting, Andy Malis, CEO of the town’s marketing agency MGH, outlined the company’s strategy for promoting the resort in the upcoming season.

Although a mild winter did little to benefit the resort’s marketing strategy, Malis said he hopes the extended summer season, brought on by Gov. Larry Hogan’s mandate requiring schools to start after Labor Day, will benefit the town.

To play off the mandate, Malis said the resort will partake in a separate advertising campaign for a “Maryland Week” celebration during the last week of the summer season.

“I hope this is the first year in many years that rooms are filled,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.