OCEAN CITY — Although there is no major fall marketing campaign in the works, resort tourism officials are thinking out of the box with a plan to encourage visitors in the fall.
With the uncertainties of COVID-19 lingering, most school systems in the region and around the country are opening the fall semester in the same learn-at-home virtual format they closed out the spring semester. Most colleges and universities are reopening in a virtual format as well. Similarly, many of those forced to work from home throughout the spring and summer continue to do so, even though their workplaces have reopened to some extent. For many others, working from home might become the new norm even if the pandemic wanes.
As a result, more and more people are learning and working from home or virtually anywhere they can take a computer or tablet and Ocean City is hoping to capitalize on that new trend with a “Work and Learn from Your Happy Place” campaign launched this week. Resort officials have already decided not to pursue an aggressive, and potentially expensive, fall marketing campaign this year, choosing instead to bank the advertising budget for a robust campaign next spring.
However, that does not mean the town’s tourism and marketing team has thrown in the towel on the remainder of 2020. The campaign launched this week largely through social media and email blasts, under the tag line “Turn Your Daily Grind into a Daily Shine,” encourages visitors to come to Ocean City this fall to teach their children or work remotely while enjoying all the resort area has to offer in arguably the best time of the year.
Acting Tourism Director and Communications Manager Jessica Waters said the “Work and Learn from Your Happy Place” messages were being sent out beginning this week.
“We spent the day doing a photo and video shoot for distancing learning and promoting families to work and learn at the beach,” she said. “2020 has been a challenging year and COVID has brought so much uncertainty for families. What better way to turn lemons into lemonade that taking distancing learning and teleworking to the beach.”
Essentially, as long as one must work or teach their children remotely, it might as well do it at the beach than at a kitchen table or home office, according to the campaign’s email blast that went out this week.
“With fewer crowds and beautiful weather, there’s truly no better setting to work remotely than Ocean City,” it reads. “Bring your studies to the shore because a change of scenery and a peaceful work haven will ensure plenty of productivity ahead.”
Waters said the possibilities for remote teaching and working are virtually endless in the resort. In addition to positive settings from which to learn or work from a computer or tablet, Ocean City also offers a myriad of historical, cultural and environmental opportunities for distance learning.
“Parents can work and teach from a hotel room balcony, on beach chairs by the ocean or on a pier on the bay,” she said. “Not to mention, we have so many great places to learn, like the Ocean City Lifesaving Station Museum or Assateague. There is so much to offer families this fall, and although we are not moving forward with a big advertising campaign, we will continue to promote all of the great reasons families should plan fall visits to Ocean City.”
The campaign encourages distance teachers and students to visit the Ocean City Lifesaving Museum or even the Harriet Tubman Park and Visitor Center on their way to the resort. There are also endless opportunities for day trips to the historic small towns around the county including Berlin and Snow Hill, for example.
The campaign also encourages families to work in a physical education element to their daily teaching regimen with a wide variety of offerings from the Recreation and Parks Department, bike rides on the Boardwalk with the relaxed hours in the fall, the skate park or the various water sports opportunities.
“While this year’s classrooms may look a bit different, one of the biggest benefits of remote learning is that you’re able to do it from anywhere,” the campaign’s email blast reads. “With great weather and fewer crowds, fall is a great time to bring your work to Ocean City. Bring your studies to the shore and relax at night in your happy place.”
Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones said the town’s hospitality industry is embracing the idea of promoting Ocean City as a fall destination to work or learn remotely.
“Many hotels have already created packages around the concept of remote learning being more enjoyable gazing at the ocean rather than your kitchen,” she said. “This will allow us to expand the area we target with those messages.”