Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
It's worth pointing out the spring budget cuts in Ocean City likely ended up saving the town a lot more money last weekend. In a normal year, the Inlet parking lot's Winterfest displays would have been all set up last weekend just in time for the powerful storm, but the Mayor and Council axed that part of the town's annual holiday lights campaign in a cost-cutting move earlier this year. During those budget talks, and it continues to be a point often discussed, there was a concern among downtown businesses remaining open this time of year that sales would dip without the lights. That could be true to a point, and it will be interesting to see if that bears fruit over the next six weeks. Looking beyond those worries, it was reported this week the town saved itself as much as $100,000 in damaged lights displays by not decorating the Inlet this year. Surely, some of the lights would have been taken down in advance of last week's 'Low-Ida', but it goes without saying there could have been a lot of destruction. The city got lucky here.
I recently spent more time than I ever would have wanted to in northeast Pennsylvania, specifically Wilkes-Barre.
While there, I had numerous casual conversations about Ocean City. Whenever I travel and am asked where I live, a compelling conversation unfolds regarding tourism. Most people at least know about our beach resort and many have been here often. One discussion with a waiter at a restaurant hit home. This is not news to tourism folks, but there is a value perception about our resort that will take a while to dispel. He said he loves Ocean City and has been visiting here for 40 years. A few years ago, he stopped coming here with his family because it costs about $2,500 for his family to stay in an oceanfront condominium for a week in the summer. He said his friends and family have begun going to points further south instead because he says it's cheaper, a point I disputed, reminding him there's value to be had in Ocean City and that looking at other units and different times of year might be wise.
With the town's advertising agency currently exploring a 'brand' to coin for Ocean City, it seems to me it has to be a combination message dealing with value and family. This perception of being overpriced has to be attacked aggressively because it's serious and it's keeping people from coming here, even if it's not the reality today.
Instant messaging, email and social networking have certainly changed the way we communicate these days, and generally in a more convenient way, but occasionally they produce funny results and misunderstandings.
For example, an Ocean Pines resident who studied classical music in college and is an accomplished flautist, recently found the urge to get back into music after leaving it alone for a number of years. She made some inquiries into potential opportunities via the Internet and discovered the Salisbury Symphony was seeking a flautist. She emailed her resume and heard back from the conductor via email that her credentials looked wonderful, but there was some concern about the logistics of her getting to and from her new gig for rehearsals and performances. The Salisbury Symphony representative told the Ocean Pines resident she was more than concerned about her need to commute from Berlin to Salisbury.
The local resident assured the symphony representative the commute from Berlin to Salisbury was an easy one and that she often made the trip back and forth for shopping and appointments. More emails were exchanged and when the discussion turned to the terms of employment, the Ocean Pines resident was somewhat taken aback that the salary was in Euros. She was also surprised that the contact number did not include the Maryland 410 area code and that the numbers weren't sequenced like a typical local phone number. In the end, after several more emails were exchanged, it turns out the Salisbury Symphony seeking a flautist is in Salisbury, England, and the symphony representative was under the impression the Ocean Pines woman intended to commute from Berlin, Germany.