Monday, December 29, 2008

Down the Shore with...Maureen Siman

Hope every had a nice holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. Mine was good (except for the morning when I slipped on ice and landed on my tailbone...ouch).

But now it's time to get back at it with another installment of "Down the Shore with..." This time, I'm interviewing Maureen Siman, vice president of marketing at the Atlantic City Convention and Visitor's Authority. She's also the person behind the ACCVA's twitter feed. If you're on twitter, follow her (and me while you're at it) for lots of great Atlantic City info.

1. I usually ask people what they consider their favorite shore town and why. OBVIOUSLY you're going to say Atlantic City! So...what is your favorite shore town other than Atlantic City?
My family and I go to Brigantine beach every weekend of the summer, without fail, weather permitting. It is absolutely a magnificent beach, with a spectacular view of Atlantic City! Our favorite vacation spot along the Jersey Shore, other than AC, is Cape May. For years and years, my family and I have spent one full week there each summer in a rental home. Typically, the group consists of my family of four and my four brothers, their spouses and children. It’s a blast! Nothing but beach all day and relaxing at night

2. How do you think AC's changed over the last 10 years? How much time do you have?
Seriously, the changes are astounding. As the destination marketing organization for Atlantic City, our job is to promote AC. My favorite thing to say to people at the beginning of a conversation is: If you haven’t been to Atlantic City in the last three to five years, then you haven’t been to Atlantic City. It has, seriously, changed that much. Ten years ago was a lifetime ago in this destination. We were still a day trip market with little more than gambling to offer our visitors. Today, we are a full service destination that offers fantastic dining, shopping beyond anyone’s expectations, nightlife that will keep you up all night and spas to help you recover. In fact, we’re doing the first Atlantic City Restaurant Week in 2009 and we could not have even thought about such a promotion ten, even five years ago. As of today, we have 68 restaurants participating! We’re absolutely thrilled with that.

3. What about AC might surprise this blog's readers?
Our selection of spas and shopping is, perhaps, the biggest surprise. Our dining options have emerged and are getting lots of attention but the surprising things are definitely spas and shopping. When a visitor drives into AC for the first time, arriving on the Atlantic City Expressway, they are greeted by a fantastic shopping district called Atlantic City Outlets: The Walk. It’s a beautiful, pedestrian shopping district that spans six city blocks. Plus, The Pier Shops at Caesars opened last year and there is no other place like it in the US. Designer stores on a pier that juts out 900 feet over the ocean. Amazing views!

4. When did you start twittering for the ACCVA?

About a month ago. I ‘tweet’ daily Monday through Friday about Atlantic City, and it’s been fun. We’re slowly building our ‘followers’ and hopefully, contributing something to the twitter universe.

5. Are you guys doing any other social media projects we should know about? I'm a "fan" already of Atlantic City's restaurant week on Facebook...
Actually, we just launched our AC Restaurant Week myspace page late last week. As an organization, we’re still learning about social networking and social media, particularly how it relates to marketing a destination like AC. We think it’s a perfect way to market our city as we continue to attract a younger demographic. Next year, we’ll launch Atlantic City on facebook and myspace and who knows where else! We’re also looking into mobile messaging for ACRW as well as the destination as a whole.

6. And what's your favorite place to eat in AC? I know some folks in your office favor Angelos... :-)
Ahhhh, Angelo’s! Who doesn’t love Angelo’s! It’s the great neighborhood Italian place and still has that feel, even though they’ve grown by leaps and bounds and expanded in the last few years! It’s particularly fun at lunch to walk in there, find Angelo himself sitting at a table doing paperwork, with his staff running around serving the locals. Just this morning, I was driving past on my way to work and watched what I thought was a scene out of a time long ago: an old Italian guy carrying two huge bags of fresh Italian bread from Formica’s around the corner and up the street to Angelo’s. Quite a sight and one that warms my heart J So, back to your question: my favorite place to eat has to be The Knife & Fork. Truly ‘old’ Atlantic City, amazing food and great wine. Not to mention the history of the place (it used to be a men’s club and was even a speakeasy). The second floor, the Ladies’ Lounge, is fantastic with beautiful architecture and design. Just a fantastic place.

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