Ocean City Today
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Officials start brainstorming on rebranding

City staff, councilmembers engage in top-down review of events and resort image
By Katie Tabeling | Aug 03, 2017

(Aug. 4, 2017) Ocean City officials had a private discussion Tuesday on how to rebrand the resort to bring it more in line with the “family friendly resort” image.

City Manager Doug Miller organized the meeting with Tourism Director Donna Abbott, Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller, Convention Center Director Larry Noccolino and Communications Manager Jessica Waters to discuss the series of events the city hosts throughout the summer. Councilmen John Gehrig and Wayne Hartman and Tourism Commission Chairwoman and Council Secretary Mary Knight also participated in the discussion.

“This will be a 30,000-feet view exercise looking at all of our events,” City Manager Doug Miller said. “It’s not uncommon for any company or organization to look at their products to see what works well and what does not.  Also, for those events that work well, there is always room for improvement.”

That said, Hartman and Knight said before the meeting that their concerns would be with June and “senior week,” when hundreds of high school and college graduates from the area come for the beach.

“There’s events that I’m concerned about that could jeopardize our family-friendly image,” Hartman said. “I’m concerned about Cruisin’ [Ocean City], H2Oi and College Beach Weekend, although our police handled that very well.”

After the meeting, Gehrig said that all events were discussed, from Cruisin’ Ocean City in May to Sunfest in early September.

“It was more of a general introduction of the mission of the commission, to see where everyone stood on which events we’re marketing successfully to our families and other visitors that come here,” he said. “It really was a way to take everyone’s temperatures on the matter.”

Hartman said Tuesday’s gathering was first of many meetings to come to discuss Ocean City’s image.

“It’s going to take a lot of discussion to reach any sort of decision, because there’s multiple layers,” he said. “We have a list of issues and any potential way to solve them need to be vetted before we make changes.”

Hartman elaborated that “crime and trash are symptoms of not having the right people in Ocean City” during certain events throughout the summer.

The Tourism Commission is also working with the city’s advertising firm, MGH, on a survey to see how the current marketing strategy is working and if it’s reaching the target audience.

Marketing decisions as a whole would be brought before the full City Council, as with any items from Tuesday’s meeting that require action.

“This is the first meeting we’re having this discussion. So, at this point the council is invited, but if we make decisions, we’ll bring it forward,” Knight said. “There could be a lot of opportunity here, not just to market to families that month.

“There’s a lot of young couples and empty nesters,” Knight continued. “Families will be difficult to reach because some students aren’t out of school yet in June. But we’re going to strategize and see what we can do better.”

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