Ocean City Tourism Reorganization

Ocean City Director of Tourism and Business Development Tom Perlozzo proposed a restructure of his department that would move special events, marketing and communications, the finance manager, convention center and a new director of sales to directly report to him. Perlozzo is also seeking six new positions to be added to his team. 

When Ocean City officials agreed to hire Tom Perlozzo as the director of tourism and business development, their intent was to strengthen the resort town as a year-round destination while also creating a dynamic and coordinated team to lead the efforts.

Perlozzo was also charged with putting together a strategy to achieve the goal of developing a destination marketing organization.

On Monday, Perlozzo showed City Council members the direction he wants the department to take, and they responded with a 6-0 endorsement of an ambitious plan that entails the realignment of the tourism department and the addition of several new positions.

“There’s three strategic elements that we’re requesting approval of, based upon your vision of tourism and business development,” Perlozzo told council.

The first of those elements, he said, is the approval to advance the internal destination marketing team by realigning some current positions. For example, the administrative assistant would become a full-time position instead of part-time, and the director of marketing communications would report directly to Perlozzo.

Perlozzo also asked to bring the special events department, marketing and communications, and the convention center under tourism and business development organizational umbrella.

“I’m very sensitive to the existing staff, but I believe with clear direction, a mission, and some strategy, we can make a difference,” he said.

The third element Perlozzo sought approval of several new hires next year. The first of these would be a director of sales, a public relations specialist, and a social and digital media coordinator.

By April 2022, he added, he wants to bring on an advertising and research specialist, a graphic designer and brand manager, and a sports marketing and event manager.

“I want you to also keep in mind that some of the functions that are currently listed in the job description are being funded by the ad agency contract,” Perlozzo said. “It will now be moved internally and give us the opportunity to succeed and provide some best practices in the industry.”

One such position that is being jobbed out to an ad agency at a fairly high cost is the social media management, Perlozzo said. He said that expense is sufficient to cover the cost of an in-house social media specialist, with money left over to help pay for ome of the other positions.

Councilman Lloyd Martin, while on board with promoting Ocean City as a year-round family destination, expressed reservations, saying he wanted to make sure the money used to hire these new positions came from the advertising fund and not the general fund.

“I just want to make sure the money’s coming from the right pocket,” he said. “If we take it from the ad agency, I want to make sure the ad agency money is going for them and not coming out of the general fund.”

Perlozzo said his aim is to hire the kind of people who can provide the services that will result in the desired outcome.

That outcome would be a thriving business community of hotels, motels, restaurants and condos, low property tax, increased revenue from the room tax, off-season development, and potential weekday business at the convention center on 40th Street.

“I think this is the current path we need to take in 2022,” Perlozzo said.

Summarizing Perlozzo’s request, Councilman Tony DeLuca said he is seeking five people who report to him — the special events director, marketing and communications director, finance manager, convention center director, and the newly created director of sales.

The department would also hire three positions before the end of the year and before the new ad agency, which is yet to be chosen, begins providing services to the city.

Ocean City resident Vince Gisriel told the council that when the tourism director position was announced, he figured the department would need to hire 20 or more employees and asked at the time how it would be funded. But on Monday, he said, he never anticipated the growth of the department to have six new positions in place by next year with a combined estimated salary of $560,000 when considering the basic starting salaries and benefits.

Some of the positions, like the director of sales, would be responsible for training employees, as would the director of marketing and communications.

“How big will this department grow?” he asked. “How many staff will be added to that department?”

Gisriel said he did not think advertising was a function of government, nor was the business of tourism, adding that good restaurants and entertainment bring people to Ocean City.

DeLuca replied, “This will create a tourism synergy that will strengthen Ocean City as a year-round tourist destination.”

The rest of the council, with Councilman Peter Buas absent, agreed.

This story appears in the print version of Ocean City Today on Nov. 19, 2021.

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