By Maddy Vitale
The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce released its 2018 Annual Review detailing the ways it is showcasing the resort’s beaches, Boardwalk, family-friendly entertainment, shops and eateries through a strong and focused marketing plan.
Chamber Executive Director Michele Gillian said her team has had positive results by utilizing traditional and newer forms of advertising to expand the message to visitors that Ocean City should be their vacation destination.
Ocean City’s traditional advertising encompasses such things as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, visitor guides and billboards.
While continuing these traditional methods, the Chamber has also been very active in promoting the city by utilizing online advertising through websites and apps, Gillian explained.
“We always stress that it is important to maintain our traditional forms of advertising, while incorporating newer forms of advertising into the marketing and advertising plan for Ocean City,” she said. “Through our analytics, we can certainly see the move toward newer forms of communication.”
Here is an Ocean City tourism commercial for 2019 provided by the Chamber of Commerce.
In just five years, a lot has changed with how people receive and get their information about Ocean City, which is why firms specializing in digital and tradition platforms work alongside Gillian and her staff.
The Chamber’s www.oceancityvacation.com website traffic also continues to grow.
According to the 2018 Annual Review, compiled by Chamber Marketing Director Shawnda McGinnis, almost 56 percent of the website users viewed the site with a mobile device, as opposed to the traditional desktop computer.
That is a dramatic departure from 2014, when just 2 percent of the visitors viewed the website via a mobile device and 80 percent used desktop computers, Gillian noted.
And in even more changes, Apple iPhones now account for 57 percent of devices used to view the resort websites, whereas five years ago they only accounted for 6 percent, Gillian added.
“This stressed the change in our society and in technology,” Gillian reflected. “Ocean City has prided itself in keeping up with technology.”
With a change in how people get their information, the Chamber keeps a targeted market plan, working with various media-savvy companies to develop marketing strategies so that people continue to view the website of “America’s Greatest Family Resort” and select Ocean City for their vacation getaway.
The Chamber also continues to highlight some of the many accolades the destination retreat has gotten over the years, including being named “Best Beach in America” and “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” by Coastal Living magazine.
One of the ways Ocean City keeps current and relevant, when there are so many other vacation spots for people to choose from on the Jersey Shore, is to draw people from all age groups. While families continue to be the driving force of tourism in Ocean City, officials are working hard to attract all ages, including millennials, ages 25 to 44. And what they are doing seems to be working, the Chamber’s review shows.
In addition to the traditional www.oceancityvacation.com website, there is a mobile version, and more importantly, the Ocean City Vacation app, providing newer ways to connect with vacationers.
Gillian said the app is geared toward attracting younger audiences as well as people of all ages, but some of the results have been surprising.
“People often believe that apps are for the younger generations. However, 50 percent of the people who entered a contest we held on the app were over the age of 51,” Gillian noted. “This also correlates with the demographics on the website and with Visitor Guide requests.”
Gillian added that the Chamber has been very successful in reaching the younger generations through the advertising and marketing campaigns for Ocean City through social media outlets, as well as through advertising on apps such as Waze and YouTube.
This past season alone, Gillian said, the Waze analytics showed more than 17,000 navigations and more than 450,000 impressions.
While a lot of things change over the years when it comes to trends, some things do stay the same.
Year after year the main areas of interest for Ocean City vacationers continue to be the Chamber website’s calendar of events, vacation rental searches, where to stay, where to shop, and restaurants.
And where vacationers come from remains the same with the core travelers visiting from the Tri-State area — New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
The tourism campaign kickoff for the 2019 summer season began last month and will extend through June by promoting more attractions, new shops, the Boardwalk and seven miles of beaches.