It’s always interesting for any business to hear honest customer feedback. The same goes for resort destinations like Ocean City.
Tourism folks have always sought feedback from Ocean City visitors, but outreach has been stepped up recently with an independent source conducting about 5,500 interviews with visitors. The data concludes 91% rated the Ocean City experience as positive, using descriptions like calm, peaceful, rested, relaxed, content, happy, fun, excited, nostalgic and comfortable to summarize their feelings. Of the small minority who gave unfavorable reviews, cited were perceptual concerns over crime and safety as well as general observations of overly crowded, too much traffic, disorderly and chaotic atmosphere and overpriced.
Though the survey does not include a huge sample size, as compared to the millions who come in Ocean City each year, we put value in it because the positive and negatives extolled by the respondents reflect reality. All the positives, such as nostalgic, peaceful and relaxed, are true when it comes to most Ocean City vacation experiences. The negatives, like expensive, crowded and concerns over crime, are understandable because they too are rooted in realities at certain times.
This survey is part of a broad effort to answer the question on the minds of tourism folks, “Why choose here?” The results will be evaluated along with online outreach efforts, target audience interviews and upcoming community engagement workshops with tourism officials, local business owners and others in private business. Similar processes have played out in the past, such as when Ocean City created its latest strategic plan, but this current initiative is all about tourism. All this input will be merged to provide the knowledge ultimately leading to a new branding campaign.
At this week’s Mayor and Council meeting, some details were learned as to how this rebranding of the resort will be carried out. It’s going to cost money and will involve more employees on the town’s payroll through a restructuring of the town’s tourism, marketing, special events and convention center departments. The positions will include a director of sales, a sports marketing specialist, and advertising and research specialist, a public relations specialist and a digital marketing specialist.
These are bold moves for Ocean City. The time is right for action, as the pandemic has helped the resort. Capitalizing on good times through investments in the tourism structure of the town and overall direction is smart business. The philosophical debate is whether government should be leading these tourism initiatives or if it’s better as a private sector effort. It’s clear government is now leading the charge.