By Steve Adams
As statewide vaccine numbers and temperatures continue to climb, Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (VAAAC) is hoping its latest innovation, the Arundel Ambassador, will encourage stir-crazy Marylanders to choose businesses and attractions in the region when they begin looking for some safe, socially-distanced fun.
Unveiled during a sneak preview event in downtown Annapolis on March 6, the 20-foot-long travel trailer will be hitting the road and serving as a mobile visitor information center at high-traffic locations throughout the county and state, distributing promotional materials for businesses and attractions, playing video blogs on its two 65-inch televisions, live-streaming performances, and hosting giveaways.
“What’s great about the Ambassador is that it allows us to connect with people throughout the county, and eventually the state, very directly,” said VAAAC Board Chairman Gary Jobson. “It’s the perfect way to show residents all of the great things to see and do right in, or within a short drive of, their backyards.”
“The beauty of the Ambassador is that, much like a bookmobile, it allows us to go to places and reach communities where we can’t easily take our staff,” echoes Kristin Pironis, who begins her role as VAAAC’s Executive Director on April 19.
The whole strategy is showing people how much there is to see and do in relatively close—but not too close—proximity to their homes, explained Alexis Fish, VAAAC Director of Marketing, and Susan Seifried, VAAAC VP of Public Relation & Communications. VAAAC staff had the idea for the Ambassador before the pandemic struck but decided to make it a reality when the crisis turned a spotlight on the importance of supporting local businesses. During the March 6 event the Ambassador featured brochures, vlogs, and gift card giveaways to businesses at the Arundel Mills Mall; it will focus more on Annapolis-area businesses when visiting farther corners of the county.
The mobile center serves as a billboard on wheels, with glossy images of horseracing at Laurel Park, rolling dice at Maryland Live!, midshipmen marching, crab cakes, and City Dock in downtown Annapolis on its exterior.
While the Ambassador will expand its outreach to promote Annapolis and Anne Arundel County at trade shows, conventions, sporting events, and more throughout the state (and beyond) in the future, its current focus is on promoting inter-county travel.
To that end, its schedule for March (10am– 2pm) includes:
- Saturday, March 13: Killarney House in Davidsonville, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day with giveaways of $100 gift cards to Irish Traditions and the Irish Restaurant Company.
- Saturday, March 20: Historic London Town and Gardens, for Maryland Day and to promote historical tourism and getaways.
- Sunday, March 21: City Dock, where it will kick off Annapolis Restaurant Week.
- Saturday, March 27: Quiet Waters Park, where it will celebrate the start of Spring.
Seifried says that VAAAC is not only actively seeking input and ideas from Anne Arundel County businesses on how to use and where to take the Ambassador—including offering partners the opportunity to be featured on its back end, host or accompany it on site, or provide giveaways or gift cards—but also from the public. “The possibilities really are endless,” said Seifried.
Learn more at www.visitannapolis.org/plan/visitors-center/arundel-ambassador/ and follow Visit Annapolis on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.