Last week, 10 teams competed for a $50,000 grant in a pitch competition held live at the 38th Annual Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit in Cambridge, Md. The competition, “Crab Tank on the Choptank,” loosely based on the hit television show “Shark Tank,” featured contestants presenting their tourism marketing campaign ideas to the “crabs, ” or judges, in the tank. The prize was ultimately awarded to the Town of Ocean City, who teamed up with six Eastern Shore county tourism officials, to pitch the “Chase the Blue Crab” trail.
Ocean City Tourism Director Donna Abbott and Destination Sales Manager Norma Dobrowolski partnered with tourism officials from Worcester County, Wicomico County, Dorchester County, Talbot County, Queen Anne’s County and Kent County. Their award-winning pitch includes a group tour itinerary that invites visitors to “chase the blue crab” and celebrate, learn, savor and enjoy authentic experiences across the Eastern Shore. The trail will take visitors from the Bay Bridge and make its way down to Ocean City, passing through all six counties along the way.
“We were excited to partner with our fellow destination marketing organizations to make the pitch,” Abbott said. “This group tour marketing initiative will be of great benefit to all of our destinations.”
The “Chase the Blue Crab” trail includes a listing of recommended All-You-Can-Eat crab houses that are group tour-friendly, like Phillips Crab House in Ocean City. It also includes accommodation options to fit a variety of budgets, including the Hyatt Cambridge and properties from the Harrison Group and the Boardwalk Hotel Group.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to expand group tour travel itineraries across the Eastern Shore,” said Kristen Goller, Tourism Manager for Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism. “We are thrilled to have won the additional marketing support by the Maryland Office of Tourism and look forward to enhancing visitor experiences by chasing the blue crab.”
The Town of Ocean City and its partners will be regrouping in early December to finalize details of the trail; they hope to launch in time for blue crab season of 2019.
The winning “Chase the Blue Crab” pitch received $50,000 in promotional exposure by the Maryland Office of Tourism, a division of the Maryland Department of Commerce. The Town of Ocean City Department of Tourism also was the recipient of the Cooperative Partnership Award with Worcester and Wicomico counties for the marketing of the National Folk Festival.