By Maddy Vitale
The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce has increased its social media platform to attract even more visitors to “America’s Greatest Family Resort.”
Over the last year, e-marketing strategies designed to boost tourism seem to be working, according to a report by Shawnda McGinnis during the Chamber’s Business Summit Oct. 4 at the Ocean City Yacht Club.
“It has been a very busy season for the Chamber,” said McGinnis, the Chamber’s marketing director.
She noted that in addition to more web traffic from visitors to the Chamber’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, the Ocean City App, which was launched last year, has seen a significant increase in users from 9,000 to 16,000.
“People are becoming more tech-savvy,” McGinnis said. “The world is a changing place.”
The app features things to do in Ocean City, highlights businesses, and by the end of the year, will offer consumers a way to do cash-free transactions. Ken Wisnefski, owner of the digital marketing company WebiMax, who is also the owner of OCNJDaily.com, has been working with the Chamber on creating the new feature.
Wisnefski noted in his report at the summit that the cash-free feature is a way to provide more convenience to shoppers and attract millennials to Ocean City. Often, he said, younger consumers leave cash at home and opt for cards. With the app, they can purchase items from participating merchants.
McGinnis said the app has been used for virtually everything this summer. People most often use it to check the calendar of events and learn all that is offered at local businesses.
She said the option for cash-free purchases has been received positively by visitors and business owners, who feel it is a reflection of the times.
In addition to the growing use of the app, McGinnis outlined the number of phone calls made during a year to the city’s Welcome Center.
“We field more than 100,000 phone calls,” she said.
The Chamber also sends out emails to visitors and residents who sign up for the feature. The emails provide useful information about events and businesses. Currently, there are 150,000 people on the list.
The Chamber’s website www.oceancityvacation.com gives Chamber members a reason to be pleased, McGinnis said. To date, there are more than 800,000 sessions and of those views, the top pages are the calendar of events and things to do. She noted that visitors to the website are primarily from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The number of followers for the Chamber’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts also continues to grow, McGinnis said.
While the focus continues to be social media platforms and expanding the app, McGinnis said more traditional forms of advertising, including the Visitors Guide, remain vital parts of the marketing strategy.
During the summit, restaurant owner and president of the Downtown Merchants Association, Patty Talese, told the audience that Ocean City continues to use digital, TV, print, billboards, mailings and other marketing tools to showcase Ocean City.
Google display ads are a new addition to the Chamber’s marketing strategy. Facebook also continues to drive brand awareness, Talese pointed out.
Chamber Executive Director Michele Gillian noted at the summit that tourism is vital to Cape May County, which is why it is so important to stay current and offer visitors and residents as many activities and conveniences as possible.
“We want you all to walk with us. This is a new age. We are looking to benefit the business community. We are here for you,” Gillian told the room filled with business owners. “We want to be at the forefront. We want businesses to thrive and hope the businesses come along with us.”