Andy MacLellan aquires full ownership of Verb

With travel restrictions beginning to ease, the co-founder says the agency has picked up 11 net new tourism brands since the start of the month.

President and CEO Andy MacLellan acquired full ownership of digital marketing agency Verb Interactive on July 1.

MacLellan is the co-founder of the Halifax-based travel-focused agency and obtained complete ownership of the business as co-founder, Edward Dorey, announced his retirement. MacLellan and Dorey started Verb more than 15 years ago.

Despite the leadership transition, and the agency’s clients (which include Royal Caribbean, Pebble Beach Resorts and Destination BC) being hobbled by travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic, MacLellan says Verb has been busy helping brands with their recovery strategies.

“We put our heads down and just really focused on supporting clients, building recovery strategies for our different brands in travel and hospitality,” he says of how the agency has evolved to provide strategic counsel to travel and hospitality organizations.

Business for the digital shop has continued to grow into the summer months  within the last two weeks, for example, Verb started working with 11 new brands. And in the coming weeks, he says the agency will unveil a new data platform, which will help clients better manage their business and develop tailored shopping experiences for their guests.

MacLellan says research indicates that 2020 will be the year of the road trip. “So, [that involves] changing your strategies to focus on driving markets and hitting people with inspirational messages to remind them that these destinations are still there providing safe pockets for people to travel to, and then coupling that with the delivery of safety messages so that people know what to expect when they get there,” he adds.

Destination marketers are also working with Verb to find ways to communicate safety protocols without scaring consumers, while also reassuring local communities that they’re safe now that travel has resumed and tourists are in their backyard. “We have to be responsible citizens if we’re going to bring someone to our hotel, or put someone on our ferry, or bring them to the destination in general, just so they know what to expect.”