By MADDY VITALE
Shore towns had a tough start to the 2020 summer season, with beaches, boardwalks and promenades closed in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sea Isle City was no different, scaling back the tourism marketing plan and putting things on hold.
Mickey Coskey, marketing consultant for the Sea Isle City Tourism Commission, explained in a remote commission meeting Thursday that while things were modified or cut for the 2020 advertising campaign, people still came down to Sea Isle and enjoyed all that it has to offer — from the beaches, to dining to shopping.
“We all know it has been quite the year and from a marketing perspective there were many challenges,” Coskey said, summing up her perspective. “We were all hoping the pandemic would subside earlier than it did.”
While the decision was made early on in the pandemic not to print visitor guides and to suspend the marketing campaign, some things continued to remind visitors that Sea Isle remains a popular family destination.
Thirty-second and 15-second TV spots, billboard ads, web commercials and banner ads continued, but not to the level that it would have been if it was a typical summer season, Coskey said.
The same tourism slogan of the last two years — “Reconnect in Sea Isle!” — showcased the family-friendly beach town. A web commercial beckoned visitors with the words, “Reconnect, Refresh, Relax: Reconnect in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.”
Coskey explained that some aspects of the campaign were halted in March and then resumed in June.
“We could have jammed everything into the summer, but we thought we could encourage people to come through September,” she said.
Coskey also said that Sea Isle’s popular “Countdown to Summer” Facebook campaign was pulled in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, the campaign engages people with photos and videos highlighting the town for the 100 days in between the Polar Bear Plunge and Memorial Day weekend.
“It gets people excited about a vacation. That was halted because of the uncertainty,” she said.
Once Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the coronavirus restrictions, reopening the shore and phasing in reopening plans for different businesses, vacationers headed down and residents got out of their homes to enjoy the surf and sand.
“The good news is we were up 4.2 percent from 2019,” Coskey noted of the number of visitors on Sea Isle’s tourism website.
Month by month, the figures also reflected the positive increase in vacationers and day-trippers.
“People were coming to the shore and feeling more comfortable,” Coskey said. “The fact that we were up in a year like we had is a really good story.”
Currently, Coskey said she is working on the 2021 marketing campaign.
On Dec. 28, the New Year’s kickoff campaign will begin.
“We will get a quick start with the campaign and hopefully it will be a better year than 2020,” she said, adding that billboards, commercial spots and traditional media advertising will be used to promote the city’s tourism.
Sea Isle City Public Information Officer Katherine Custer said of the presentation, “It looks good, Mickey, thank you.”
Custer explained that despite the coronavirus-related event cancellations during the summer and fall, the city will forge ahead optimistically to plan for events to go on, including the 2021 concert series.
The calendar of events for the upcoming Excursion Park concert lineup will be released in a couple of months, explained Chris Oney, a tourism assistant.
Custer added, “I think it is important that we proceed. Chris will work on the visitors guide. We have to move ahead optimistically. We have to be prepared for the best.”