OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City is on its way to creating a new tourism dashboard that will collect a variety of data to use as a metric in determining tourism productivity.
Ocean City tourism officials have been discussing how to come up with a more reliable way in measuring the amount of tourism passing through Ocean City, besides relying on Demoflush figures, which are estimations on the population in Ocean City based on wastewater flow from Ocean City provided by the Ocean City Wastewater Division and calculated by the OC Tourism Department.
At that time, the discussion concluded with several options left to be further explored, such as the State of Maryland’s tourism metric, looking into local resources to conduct a study, such as the Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University, or hiring an independent entity to conduct a study.
Andy Malis of MGH, the town’s advertising agency, had suggested contacting Nobi in coming up with a way to measure Ocean City’s tourism. Nobi is a group of scientists that specialize in using complex mathematical modeling techniques and applied statistics in the form of experimental design to help clients achieve their objectives, but hiring the independent entity was a costly option.
During a commission meeting in April, Commission Chair/Councilwoman Mary Knight recommended the development of a subcommittee to analyze already available tourism data.
“The next step is developing a subcommittee to explore this a little bit further,” Tourism Director Donna Abbott said at that time. “There are a whole bunch of different things we could put on a dashboard like trash collection, bus revenue, parking lot revenue and all those different things we have that we can put into a report to have a better picture of what’s going on.”
At this week’s Tourism Commission meeting, Maryland Office of Tourism Development Director Margot Amelia shared the state’s monthly reports and the metrics used.
The Maryland Tourism Monitor is a monthly recap of Maryland’s travel and tourism trends monitored by the Amelia’s office. The monitor tracks the offices’ website visitation, the number of newsletter subscribers, social media traffic, requests for travel information, the number of welcome center visitors, kiosk usage, hotel occupancy reported by Smith Travel Research, Inc., airport arrivals, Amtrak train system ridership leisure and hospitality employment and tourism taxes.
“I know you guys have some really great metrics that you can look for because at the end of the day visitors are important but what’s really important is revenue,” Amelia said. “We can all do a really great job in guiding a lot of daytrippers into Ocean City to use the restrooms and generate some Demoflush but what we are interested in hearing is your hotel revenue is up and amusement and admissions tax is up and restaurant tax is up because that is how we can really tell if tourism is up.”
Since the last time the commission met, a tourism metric subcommittee had been formed and met.
“We made great progress in coming up with some metrics that we already have, and that we will hopefully be able to start with sometime this summer,” Knight said.
Abbott said like the Maryland Tourism Monitor, Ocean City has a lot of the same data available. It is just the matter of collecting the information and organizing it, such as bus ridership, Inlet parking revenue, solid waste collection, Demoflush and Smith Travel Report hotel occupancy.