How VERB Interactive is conquering the travel industry from Nova Scotia
Friday, July 19, 2019
If there’s a classic playbook for modern day start-up success, VERB Interactive’s Andy MacLellan and Ed Dorey may be the ideal archetype. Just 15 years ago, they were struggling to find success in software development. Today, they are at the helm of a digital agency that works with some of the world’s biggest destinations, resorts, and travel brands.
Next time you book your Royal Caribbean cruise, Pebble Beach golf weekend or Nassau Paradise Island getaway, chances are a company in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada played a role in that decision.
‘I travelled enough last year to fly around the world almost five times.’
Andy MacLellan, CEO
MacLellan and Dorey are busy. Like never-stop-ridiculously busy. Together with 160+ staff, they are delivering marketing and technology solutions to travel and hospitality brands on a global scale.
Of course, what makes the impossible possible is a skilled workforce. Over the next five years, VERB expects to double in size, adding another 130 staff. “We are growing and recruiting. Where else in Halifax do people have the opportunity to work with global brands in the travel and hospitality space,” says MacLellan.
And it’s not just the glamourous travel destinations and globally recognized brands. VERB cultivates a supportive environment committed to staff development including on-site mentorship program, professional roadmaps and the ability to travel for conferences and continued education. “We started off as co-op students at Dalhousie University, so we very much believe in the idea of bringing people here, training them, and giving them exposure to work with these brands right out of the gate.”
MacLellan expands, “We have very, very bright people working for VERB, so it’s important to us to set up a mentorship with our new grads to bring their skills along faster than they would at another organization.”
“A lot of people think we just build web applications. That’s only half of what we do.”
Andy MacLellan, CEO
As an integrated digital agency VERB hires in the areas of application development, user experience design, creative, content marketing, digital media, and data science. “From a local perspective, this creates the opportunity to hire programmers, creatives and writers. All of these different disciplines that are out there help us on the communication side of things which means it’s just a wider net for us to be able to get people.”
Not surprisingly, new graduates are flocking to VERB from institutions like the Nova Scotia Community College, University of King's College and Dalhousie University. What is surprising is the shift in interest from throughout Canada.
“We just put an offer out to someone in Ottawa and we have had employees come from Vancouver, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Ontario. We have also had a lot of interest from people in Toronto that want to move home. “
MacLellan and Dorey aren’t surprised by the shift. “The talent pool here is rich. You have all these feeder schools providing great talent. It’s a great place to live. It’s cost-effective. It’s a great place to raise a family. And that’s attractive to a lot of people that have either moved away, or people that are just attracted to the East Coast and its charm.”
"You want to go to Dubai - go ahead.”
Andy MacLellan, CEO
The perks of working at VERB are largely unmatched, including yearly travel credit so staff can visit client brands. With more than ten positions currently open for applications, the team is strategic in recruitment.
“Growing as fast as we have has been challenging. We have really doubled down in the last two years on hiring as much senior talent as we possibly can to improve process internally, to help manage timelines and tighter project management regimes.”
“We want our employees to be happy and healthy. We’re going to continue to grow and work with the best clients in travel and continue to hire the brightest staff.”
Interested in learning more or working with VERB? Check out their careers page.