Miss America Deemed Early Success For Atlantic City's Long-Term Strategy

Sep 20, 2013, 15:16 ET from Atlantic City Alliance

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Sept. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The comeback of Miss America was declared an early win by Atlantic City's leadership for the long-term strategy for the seaside resort destination. From record ratings on the national broadcast and immense publicity, to the varied activities both affiliated and unaffiliated with Miss America, Atlantic City demonstrated a resilience and an ability to drive a variety of visitors to "Do AC."

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For nearly two weeks, businesses enjoyed the star power of the 53 Miss America contestants visiting local attractions, posing for pictures, attending events and signing autographs.  Official estimates for the "Show Us Your Shoes Parade" on the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk topped 200,000 people.

In addition to Miss America's two weeks of events from September 3-16, 2013, Atlantic City also hosted an international professional volleyball competition, several conventions, smaller meetings in casino properties, live performances and events inside the casino resorts, the Atlantic City Seafood Festival and the Atlantic City Triathlon.

Atlantic City is in the midst of a five-year strategy to diversify the market's image and customer base beyond just gaming to include a variety of visitor draws including events, meetings and conventions, retail, dining, nightlife, beach and marina.

Here is a sampling of what officials have to say about Miss America:

Getting AC Ready
Since 2011, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has invested more than $200 million back into Atlantic City to ensure AC was ready for the national spotlight and a new future.

"Visitors and the media in Atlantic City saw a fresher Atlantic City with a brighter, cleaner boardwalk and a beautified Boardwalk Hall," said John Palmieri, executive director for the CRDA. "For those visitors who came to AC for Miss America, a meeting or group, to attend a festival, or to participate in the race, they saw a noticeably different experience.  We thank everyone in both the private and public sectors who have been working to make Atlantic City a great year-round destination."

Palmieri continued, "the Governor and his team delivered an opportunity to bring Miss America back to Atlantic City.  CRDA invested in Miss America's return with the support of its partners, the City of Atlantic City and the State of New Jersey and that investment delivered."

"The return of Miss America to the Atlantic City Boardwalk boosts civic pride, promotes the entire city and improves our image," said Ronald L. Cash, business administrator for the City of Atlantic City. "Generations of families have been drawn to the Boardwalk for the historic parade.  Local merchants and Atlantic City employees helped make this year's return a triumphant success." 

"The Miss America Organization would like to thank every person who helped make this great homecoming so successful," said Sharon Pearce, president of the Miss America Organization.  "We were so grateful and truly impressed with the cooperation, the flexibility, the coordination and the immense outpouring of support at every level beginning with the Governor of New Jersey to our fellow residents of New Jersey who welcomed visitors from all over the country back to Atlantic City!"

An Image Building Homerun
Atlantic City enjoyed months of publicity since the announcement of the return of Miss America. In addition to the significant and constant editorial coverage, the national and Philadelphia area broadcasts with ABC and the Philadelphia affiliate provided additional spotlight on the comeback of Atlantic City.

"A national audience saw Atlantic City as a beautiful island gem with a gorgeous Boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean during an 8-minute opening segment that we value at $1.5 million in advertising equivalency," said Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance, a nonprofit tourism marketing organization. "The media equated the return of Miss America to Atlantic City as one symbol of Atlantic City's great comeback."

"Most cities would be happy with the sheer volume of publicity before and during the Miss America pageant, and any city would be thrilled to find that 53% of its coverage surrounding an event was positive," Katie Delahaye Paine, measurement authority and CEO, Paine Publishing, LL. Paine has been engaged by the Atlantic City Alliance to evaluate the publicity coverage.  "But the real home run for Atlantic City was how much of the coverage communicated the right messages about the city – messages designed to change perceptions of the city. Almost all of the stories that appeared contained one or more of the desired messages and most of them portrayed the city as coming back and having more than just gaming."

National Ratings Hit
The Miss America Organization had a triumphant return to Atlantic City with their ABC telecast on Sunday evening setting a new rating record high – the best ratings in over nine years. 

"The 2014 Miss America Competition averaged a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating from 9 to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, its best number since 2004. That was up 19 percent over last year's telecast.  The show's audience increased to 10 million viewers during the last hour, its best since 2004," stated Sam Haskell, III, chairman and CEO, The Miss America Organization.

Casino Industry Weighs In
When destinations host events, the payoff comes immediately during the event and down the line as visitors decide to make future trips to Atlantic City. Hotel occupancy and non-gaming revenues are not available this quickly however; the casino industry and its leaders released the following quotes:

"Miss America weekend put a very positive spotlight on Atlantic City. Both the parade and the pageant were valuable as new business attractions," said Tony Rodio, president, Casino Association of New Jersey. "The whole weekend generated enough excitement, energy and attendance to make a September weekend feel like mid-summer.  Miss America's birthplace was Atlantic City and it was great to see her return to her rightful home.  Her fans filtered into casinos and other Boardwalk businesses all weekend long.  As a result, we were able to showcase Tropicana's new dining venues and other non-gaming amenities to customers we may not have reached otherwise."

"Miss America returned home to where it all began and with it new visitors and families packed our hotels, experienced our Boardwalk, and enjoyed our amenities," said Kevin Ortzman, senior vice president and general manager for Caesars, Bally's and Showboat, Atlantic City. "The event was an unmitigated success, as too was the 2nd Annual Seafood Festival that saw Caesars Entertainment properties serve some of the 20,000 people that filled Bader Field.  With events like these and next week's Miss'd America Pageant, SWEAT AC, and Donovan McNabb's Jersey Retirement Weekend we hope to extend visitations even if the weather starts to cool."  

"The return of Miss America is just another example of how Atlantic City continues to evolve and thrive with the support of committed property owners and the Atlantic City Alliance," said Mark Giannantonio, president & CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel. "The Miss America Pageant was the perfect conduit to show the nation Atlantic City and Resorts Casino Hotel is better than ever.  Events like Miss America and our recent expansion project opening Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville entertainment complex continue to provide the spark to show the world we are a year-round destination."

"From the Volleyball Tournament and Atlantic City International Triathlon, to the return of Miss America, there was no shortage of buzz in Atlantic City over the past two weeks exposing our destination to new and returning visitors," said Holly Campano, vice president of Marketing, Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.  "Atlantic Club customers enjoyed theme promotions on property including our successful Show Us Your Shoes Sweepstakes." 

About Atlantic City
From sandals to stilettos and foie gras to funnel cakes, Atlantic City offers something for everyone. Enjoy world-class entertainment, dining, shopping, gaming, relaxing on the beach and strolling the historic Boardwalk in the city created to escape the city. For more information visit www.doatlanticcity.com or:

The Atlantic City Alliance was established in 2011 as a private, not-for-profit corporation whose primary mission is to develop and implement a full-scale, broad-based, multi-year marketing program for Atlantic City.

Click-to-Tweet: The return of @MissAmerica to #DOAC is a symbol of Atlantic City's great comeback with no shortage of buzz in the past 2 weeks

SOURCE Atlantic City Alliance