Ocean City plans a redesign of its hotel reservations site | News

Members of the Ocean City Tourism Commission hope to make changes to the Ocean City Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) website so it can help direct potential room reservations away from international businesses and directly to hotels. .

The website, www.ococean.com, is currently used as a hub for people to find hotels, places to eat, entertainment venues and other activities in Ocean City.

CVB destination sales manager Norma Dobrowolski 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 as many as 325 members at one time, and currently close to 290.

Dobrowolski said ococean.com needed to be revamped, explaining that the site needed to be able to compete with companies such as www.booking.com and www.expedia.com to attract people to the resort.

Over time, the time people spend on ococean.com has dropped significantly, with people staying there for less than a minute.

Tourism and business development manager Tom Perlozzo said the city has spent millions of dollars attracting people to ococean.com, but the site no longer offers a good return on investment for those who pay. to be part of it.

With many hotels paying online travel agencies a minimum of 15% on every booking, Perlozzo said the goal was to find a way to be a better partner for hotels and put more money into their pockets for more manpower and publicity.

He recommended having a hotel reservation system developed and implemented on ococean.com.

“With a new ad agency coming in, we can promote it properly,” he said.

Perlozzo gave an example where the fee to join and be part of the site is $1000. Hypothetically, he explained, if the average price of a room is $250 and on average people book two and a half days per reservation, there could be a marketing cost of 15%, which equals $93.75. With this scenario, the hotelier could recoup the $1,000 after 11 reservations.

“That might scare off some hotels,” he said. It is optional.

“I would bet they make thousands of hotel reservations in a year. Thousands,” Perlozzo added.

Mayor Rick Meehan said being part of ococean.com would save money for Ocean City hotels and be far less than what they currently pay in online travel agency fees.

“Drive 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 create routes on the site, but right now it’s all about small steps.

Councilman John Gehrig said hotels can either spend their money on places like Booking.com or on ococean.com. Either way, he added, they are going to spend their money no matter what. They could go to a multinational that is not going to reinvest in Ocean City or give it to a local partner.

“It all depends on where you get the best deal,” Meehan said. “That’s the bottom line for the customer.”

The commission gave a favorable recommendation to proceed with the capacity increase of ococean.com and to bring the matter forward to the mayor and council for consideration.

This story appears in the print version of Ocean City Today on December 17, 2021.

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