Wynwood seeks proposals to hire ‘ambassador’ service
In their continuing quest to make the area cleaner and more tourist-friendly, directors of the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) have requested proposals to hire an “ambassador” service.
Ambassadors would direct tourists, give out maps, answer questions, help with special events, clean as necessary, and fill in whatever service gaps exist, said Manny Gonzalez, BID executive director, at the group’s meeting last week.
Preference will go to proposers that have experience with a BID or similar entity, he said. “If not, what you get is a mall cop or a mall cleaner.” Proposals are due Nov. 17.
Only two large companies – ADM Cleaning Services and Block by Block – provide ambassador- type services in Miami, Mr. Gonzalez said, “big-time companies that do business in the Northeast, where BIDs are prevalent.”
Block by Block staffs both the ambassador programs of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority and the Coconut Grove BID.
“We want them to walk the boundaries and not leave during inclement weather,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “That’s not how we work. We’ll provide uniforms – we’ve got to have a brand.”
Earlier this year, when the Miami Police Department increased its rate for off-duty officers from $36 per hour at during the day and $37 at night by a $3 per hour surcharge to $40 per hour during the day and a $4.50 surcharge to $41.50 at night, BID directors decided the divert $75,000 from the police budget to the ambassador program ($35,000) and marketing ($40,000).
Optimally, personnel on the street are licensed guards, “and we would get 30-page reports on things like bicycle miles covered so we could compare it to the previous month,” Mr. Gonzalez said then.
“We could even have more visibility,” said board member David Polinsky, a principal of 250 Wynwood. The BID off-duty officers are in plain clothes.
Bifurcating security spending to half off-duty officers and half ambassadors might be worth trying, Mr. Polinksy said then, as well as opening lines of communication with other entities that are using ambassador services.