Members of the Ocean City Tourism Commission hope to make changes to the Ocean City Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) website so that it can help divert potential room reservations from international companies and to hotels directly.
The website, www.ococean.com, is currently used as a hub for people to find a hotel, place to eat, entertainment, and other activities in Ocean City.
Norma Dobrowolski, director of destination sales for CVB, said the office is a branch of the city that started as a listing on the city’s website. Over the years, she said, the CVB has grown into a powerful tool, with up to 325 members at one time and currently close to 290.
Dobrowolski said ocean.com needs to be revamped, explaining that the site needs to be able to compete with companies such as www.booking.com and www.expedia.com in driving people to the resort.
Over time, the time people spend on ococean.com has dramatically decreased, with people staying there for less than a minute.
Tourism and Business Development Director Tom Perlozzo said the city has spent millions of dollars bringing people to ococean.com, but the site is no longer providing a good return on investment for those paying for it. be part of it.
With many hotels paying online travel agencies a minimum of 15% on every booking, Perlozzo said the goal is to find a way to be a better partner for hotels and put more money into their pockets. pockets for more labor and advertising.
He recommended having a hotel reservation system developed and implemented on ococean.com.
“With the arrival of a new advertising agency, we can promote this properly,” he said.
Perlozzo gave an example where the fee to register and be part of the site is $ 1,000. In theory, he explained, if the average room rate is $ 250 and people book an average of two and a half days per reservation, there could be a marketing cost of 15%, equivalent to $ 93.75. With this scenario, the hotelier could recover the $ 1,000 after 11 reservations.
“It might scare off some hotels,” he said. It is optional.
“I would bet they make thousands of hotel reservations in a year. Thousands, ”added Perlozzo.
Mayor Rick Meehan said being part of ocean.com would save Ocean City hotels a lot of money and be far less than what they are currently paying in online travel agency fees.
“Take them to ococean.com to save them a significant amount of money and give the city money to reinvest for them,” he said.
It will take time, however, according to Perlozzo.
With his eyes on the future, he said it would be nice if visitors could build routes around the site, but right now it’s all about small steps.
City Councilor John Gehrig said hotels can spend their money on sites like Booking.com or ococean.com. Either way, he added, they are going to spend their money no matter what. They could go to a multinational that will not reinvest in Ocean City or sell it to a local partner.
“It all depends on where you get the best deal,” Meehan said. “That’s the main thing for the customer. “
The commission issued a favorable recommendation to proceed with increasing the capacity of ocean.com and that the matter be presented to the mayor and council for consideration.