Commentary

printed 07/13/2018

Directing marketing material to people who might be inclined to vacation in this area in the offseason sounds like an improved approach to increasing tourism when it’s needed the most.

That’s what industry and government officials in Ocean City are considering, as they weigh a proposal from a California company, ADARA, that’s about to roll out a product that sorts through, culls and otherwise compiles volumes of data collected from millions of travelers every year throughout the country.

The gist is, the company creates traveler profiles from information obtained through polls of visitors — almost 400 million of them — in various destinations around the USA.

From that data, the company can project when people are likely to travel, as well as where and why, along with determining what its own clients need during specific times of year.

That’s an exciting concept, give or take a scary aspect here and there, such as heat-mapping to determine which rooms or units are occupied and which aren’t.

The one thing this marketing approach won’t do, however, assuming that the plan would be to develop more offseason tourism, is ensure that visitors drawn to the area at that time have plenty of things to do.

Each year, it seems that more and more businesses have been closing a little earlier than they used to, with owners and operators often opining that the revenue received doesn’t justify the work and expense involved in remaining open.

It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. Businesses would remain open as long as it’s worth it, but it won’t be worth it, apparently, until the offseason visitor numbers are up on a more regular basis. And that won’t happen if visitors arrive in cooler months and find their recreational choices limited.

As is the case with all advertising, the best message in the world won’t work if the product doesn’t meet expectations. That’s something tourism industry representatives and government officials should consider in tandem with this intriguing marketing proposal.

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