Ocean City Today

Tourism leaders look for new ad survey soon

Commission starts ongoing conversation on marketing to today’s families, visitors
By Katie Tabeling | Jul 13, 2017

(July 14, 2017) With an eye to next summer, the Ocean City Tourism Commission has agreed that a survey is in order to gauge the effectiveness of Ocean City’s advertising campaign.

“It’s always good to hear from our visitors and to see what our tourists like and what suggestions and comments they could make,” Council Secretary Mary Knight, who chairs the commission, said during Monday’s meeting. “We have a lot of new restaurants and activities in the last time we did a study. It would be great to see if our tourists are going to those events or going somewhere else.”

Tourism Director Donna Abbott said the resort has conducted two marketing surveys with its advertising firm MGH. One involved passing out a survey to visitors as they left the inlet lot.

In 2009, another was conducted to show the effectiveness of the Rodney the Lifeguard campaign, with Rodney reminding television viewers to take their vacation days in Ocean City.

MGH President Andy Malis said he could conduct an online focus group or track market trends, like ages, likes and who visits where, but he told the commission that he needed to focus his research.

“The key is to whatever you’re trying to find out is to have questions [that need] to be answered,” Malis said. “We shouldn’t rush to it until we’re in agreement.”

Knight suggested that the research should focus on families, as that is Ocean City’s most desired audience. But Abbott pointed out that demographics were unavailable at certain times during the year.

“Families with kids are not going to travel while they’re in school. We may need to look at a mini-campaign in May or June or a survey for the people whose lives aren’t dependent on school programs,” she said.

Commission member Stephanie Meehan also noted that what constitutes a “family” these days doesn’t necessarily match what it was a decade ago.

“It’s changed. I’ve seen two mothers with kids because their husbands couldn’t make it, or they’re single moms,” Meehan said. “It’s a tough word to pin down. I’d like to see families that came from eight or 10 years ago asked why they don’t come anymore. Their kids could be a big influence.”

Malis said that it could be as simple as people choosing to see new sights on vacation.

“People have changed from doing the same thing every year like a tradition, and there’s some that want to do something different every year,” Malis said. “We could find that out through research by others.”

Other suggestions included surveying visitors that used to come to Ocean City but stopped, to see why they stopped coming.

Malis said that he would narrow down the goals and the methods of the survey by the time of the August Tourism Commission meeting.

Councilman John Gehrig said there was one issue with the idea of the survey: getting people to sit down and take it.

“The thing about habits, is how much does it take to change them? We need to have a purpose and an idea how to motivate people to take it so it’s not a small sample,” Gehrig said.


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