By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City is rolling out a robust advertising campaign for the summer season, one that will remind regular visitors it is time to book their trips.
It is also designed to attract new tourists by touting the city’s expansive beaches, entertainment, a Boardwalk filled with shops and amusements, dining, shopping and a range of accommodations.
The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Ocean City Tourism Development Commission are focusing on the Philadelphia market, which encompasses South Jersey, as well as the entire Pennsylvania market, Maryland and Connecticut.
Digital, television and traditional forms of advertising such as billboards are being utilized. There are promotional materials in libraries, travel agencies, hotels, AAA offices, Amtrak rail stations and other locations.
The billboards are already displayed in highly trafficked areas, including the Walt Whitman Bridge and the I-95 corridor.
The marketing plan also is using social media platforms, adding some newer forms of advertising to the recipe designed to attract all ages in a strong push to alert people that this is the Ocean City — not Ocean City, Maryland — to keep in mind when booking a trip.
Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, explained Wednesday why it is so important to tap the Philadelphia market when designing a plan to entice visitors to “America’s Greatest Family Resort.”
“Philadelphia is the fourth largest market in the country. It’s extremely important to Ocean City,” Gillian explained. “Through the years, we’ve seen generations start the tourism cycle here. They visit, rent, buy, and make Ocean City their home.”
When it comes to the Pennsylvania market, proximity, in addition to offering so much to visitors, has its advantages, Gillian noted.
“Being the closest seaside resort to the Philadelphia region makes Ocean City the most attractive, as you can get here and have a complete family vacation within a short amount of time,” she said. “We are close enough that even day trippers can come to enjoy the Boardwalk and downtown.”
There are some new features in this year’s marketing plan.
“The Tourism Commission is expanding its social media buy to include surrounding areas from Maryland to Connecticut with new innovative ways to attract millennials, while still supporting traditional marketing,” Gillian said of this year’s push.
The city is also using its successful Ocean City vacation app to draw in more tourists.
“Each year, we hope to make our guests more aware of the app to encourage them to participate in Ocean City year round. We want them to stay up-to-date with our numerous events throughout the year,” Gillian said.
She continued, “We especially want them to support our business community throughout the year.”
People are using the Ocean City app.
“We’ve already seen an increase in Ocean City app users so far this year,” Gillian added. “People are excited to get back to America’s Greatest Family Resort.”
Burt Wilkins, chairman of the Tourism Commission, said the different types of new promotions for 2020 are exciting ways to target the Philadelphia market.
“We have gone to some different types of promotions. We are doing a little less of the traditional television advertising and have gone to more streaming,” said Wilkins, a local real estate broker. “We are complementing the billboards and other materials. We are really targeting our customer base in the Pennsylvania and South Jersey areas.”
While the marketing plan has already begun, the new 2020 commercial will come out in the near future and much of the campaign will be in full motion by the end of the month.
“This push covers the end of February and March, then the end of April through June, Wilkins said of the proposed rollout of the advertising campaign.
As a realtor, Tourism Commission chairman and resident, Wilkins said there are many reasons why people should choose Ocean City for a vacation or second home.
“People come to Ocean City for a traditional vacation. But it also offers so much more. There is a wonderful Boardwalk and great beaches and shopping,” Wilkins said. “We have lots for people to do.”
He noted that last summer was a great year for rentals and overall business. Some of that he attributed to the run of gorgeous weather throughout the 2019 summer season.
And although it is only February, rooms and rentals are already booking up.
“We are finding rentals are strong this year, as they have been the last couple of years,” Wilkins said. “The mild winter is helping us. There is still plenty of availability for folks who would like to rent, though.”
For more information about Ocean City visit, www.oceancityvacation.com.