The Concierge Club invests in its brand ambassadors

Just as clients seek face-to-face consumer engagement, the experiential agency engages staff to foster community.

post12Holiday shoppers at 19 of Cadillac Fairview’s shopping centres got a well-needed reprieve last Christmas. The Gift Wrap Valet took the standard shopping mall gift wrapping station and turned it into an oasis. It let weary consumers put their feet up, have a glass of wine and wait for expert wrappers to put the finishing touches on their gifts.

A big part of that success came down to the smiling faces who welcomed shoppers. The more than 400 greeters and wrappers who worked every day throughout December were brand ambassadors (or BAs) trained and provided by The Concierge Club.

The Toronto agency has more than 1,100 ambassadors in on its roster and sees strong internal community building as the key to differentiating its BAs from competitors’.

“It can be challenging to work long days in a role that isn’t full time,” says Monica Gomez, the agency’s founder, president and CEO. “The nature of BA work doesn’t allow for people to gather in an office regularly,” which can lessen commitment.

For Gomez, commitment is worth investing in. Her company budgets tens of thousands of dollars each year for initiatives to bolster its internal culture (although that jumped to nearly six figures in 2018 to celebrate its five-year anniversary).

IMG_8094That spending goes towards events such as its recent Brand Ambassador Appreciation Day, which rewarded over 100 of its ambassadors at a carnival-themed party with games and team bonding activities. The exclusive group of BAs were also invited to join a social contest on The Concierge Club’s Instagram where they could win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Los Angeles with spending cash (a contest now open to all of the company’s BAs).

“It’s important to have events that give back to the hard working BAs that are often never appreciated,” Gomez says. “I find that when you show your team how much you value them, they actually invest emotionally in the work they do.”

This creates a carry-on effect where BAs will work the same events year-to-year. The Gift Wrap Valet lounge, for example, has been staffed by some of the same BAs and managers year to year.

“This benefits clients in a huge way as the BAs get to deeply know not only their brand, but also the client, what they like, what they don’t like et cetera,” Gomez says.

Gomez also sees events like these as another chance for leadership execs to get one-on-one time with front-line staff — an important element in nurturing a great work culture. Given the high-profile brands that work with the agency (HP Canada, Sephora, and Guerlian, to name a few), Gomez says nothing about the face-to-face interaction with consumers can be left to chance.

“You do not work for us unless someone from head office has met you, and this goes for all our hiring, coast to coast,” she says. The insistence on head-office approval of every BA “ensures that hiring practices are streamlined and only the best candidates get the job… You have to be able to trust your staff, even if they’re located miles away.”

The Concierge Club’s BAs are encouraged to maintain that connection themselves as well, especially female staff. Gomez has an open-door policy for any BA who wishes to reach out directly. Keeping communication lines open like this ensures a safe, fun and empowering work environment, she says. It provides mentorship for women just starting their careers in the industry.

Gomez says the use of BAs is trending up as brands seek more real-world interactions with consumers. “With everything in the world being digital, people crave human interaction,” she says. “Staffing is the most important part of activations. You can build a beautiful set, but if your brand ambassadors aren’t performing, no one will remember how nice it looks. They will just remember the bad experience they had.”