OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s move toward restructuring its tourism and marketing strategy to continue to develop the resort as a year-round destination continued this week with approval of a significant merger and realignment of multiple departments.
In April, the town tapped Tom Perlozzo for the newly-created position of Tourism and Business Development Director. The idea was to create an emphasis on business development and sales to attract more family-friendly events, sports tournaments and camps and other convention groups to fill the town’s hotel rooms and accommodations.
In the months since, Perlozzo and his crew have been working on a multi-pronged approach to better define the town’s brand and image in order to stimulate further tourism and economic development. The town is also in parallel process to contract with a new advertising agency, a process expected to be wrapped up by the end of the year.
On Monday, Perlozzo pitched his next step in the process with a realignment of some of the town’s tourism and marketing departments and the creation of a handful of new positions to help complete his vision. The plan would essentially place the town’s tourism, marketing and sales departments under a single umbrella and position the resort to compete with destinations identified in the town’s competitive set. Perlozzo said combining the town’s tourism departments is a necessary first step in building a strong destination marketing organization for Ocean City’s future.
“There are three strategic elements that we’re requesting based on your vision of tourism and business development,” he said. “Those are the results of prior council meetings, our concept review and our perception of branding and development. The first is to advance our internal destination marketing team by realigning current and potential positions.”
The second, and perhaps most significant, element of Perlozzo’s restructuring plan is a realignment of the town’s existing tourism and marketing assets.
“The second is to realign the tourism, marketing, special events and the convention center within the tourism and business development department,” he said. “I’m very sensitive to the existing staff, but I believe with a clear direction, a mission and a strategy, we can make a move forward.”
The plan calls for creating six new positions under the umbrella of the tourism and business development department. The new positions would include a director of sales, a sports marketing specialist, and advertising and research specialist, a public relations specialist, and a digital marketing specialist, including social media, for example. It would also move the department’s executive assistant from a part-time to a full-time position.
The plan calls for adding three of the new positions in this calendar year, and perhaps three more as early as next spring. Perlozzo said funding for the proposed six new positions could be shifted from the town’s pending new contract with an advertising agency.
“I want you all to keep in mind some of the positions listed in the job descriptions would be funded through the ad agency contract,” he said. “They would be moved internally to give us the best opportunity to succeed.”
Perlozzo said he is borrowing some of his restructuring and reorganization plans from successful private sector examples.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with many corporate folks, Fed Ex being one of them, and they have three different words they tend to use to motivate- simple, service and profit,” he said. “The idea is to have a thriving business community, low property taxes, increased revenue from room tax and healthy business at the convention center.”
Perlozzo urged the Mayor and Council to review the realignment plans and approve them to allow him to move forward.
“I’d like you to review the information on the proposed realignment,” he said. “I think this is the current path we need to take for 2022.”
Councilman Lloyd Martin said he liked the proposed realignment plan as presented, but wanted more information about how six new positions would be funded.
“I think it’s the right direction,” he said. “If we’re successful, and I hope we are, that’s what we want. We need to hire more people. I just want to make sure the money for them is coming out of the right pocket.”
With that said, Council Secretary Tony DeLuca made a motion to approve Perlozzo’s realignment plan.
“I’d like to make a motion to recommend merging the tourism and business development department to include special events, marketing, communications and the convention center,” he said. “This will create a tourism synergy that will strengthen Ocean City as a year-round tourist destination. You want to hire three now and three more based on need, likely in 2022, and upgrade one part-time position to full-time.”
The council voted 6-0 with Councilman Peter Buas absent to approve the restructuring plan and add the requested positions as needed.