Advantage Travel Centres is a B2B travel agent group with 800 independent travel agents. The company has implemented unified communications (UC) to improve the connectivity of employees while out of the office, which in turn improves customer experience for its members.
The company employs 50 staff, who are often out of the office, either on the road or working from home. Perry Weintraub, head of IT at Advantage Travel Centres, said it needed a solution that would connect Advantage customers directly to employees via mobile devices while they were out of the office.
“Telephony is an important communications channel for the company. Our employees visit member agencies daily, and previously spent a great deal of time catching up with voice messages and emails on returning to the office,” he says.
Weintraub also points out that customers do not appreciate being greeted constantly by voicemails or messages to redial the employee’s mobile number.
Switching to unified communications
In 2012, Advantage chose Proximity Communications for its ShoreTel Unified Communications Platform, which provides a phone system that can instantly transfer calls to mobile devices and laptops.
The ability to divert calls direct to mobile devices is making a huge difference in staff productivity and professionalism
Perry Weintraub, Advantage Travel Centres
Weintraub looked at various systems for six to eight months. “Proximity supported our old phone system and network infrastructure, so we thought it was worth talking to,” he says.
The ShoreTel solution was attractive due to its flexibility. Its licence and bolt-on option meant Advantage did not have to buy one licence that offered everything, but rather buy extras as and when the company felt it necessary.
“The ability to divert calls direct to mobile devices and join web conferences on the road is making a huge difference in staff productivity and professionalism. Unified communications ensures member services are delivered in real time, as opposed to office time,” says Weintraub.
"When I’m on the road, my mobile rings instead of the office phone, and no one knows they’re speaking to me on my mobile. This is what I wanted. It’s almost a bit stealthy,” he says.
While Advantage has many employees using mobile devices on the move, it does not currently have a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy.
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Half of the company uses a BlackBerry, but Weintraub says this will change over the next 12-18 months.
“We are looking at BYOD,” he says. “But it's a headache because we’re a travel company and our employees roam a lot, and they won’t want to have all the data charges. It’s difficult to spot company use on a bill and what’s just you being on the internet for personal use.”
Weintraub says because of this it is likely the company will continue to provide smartphones.
He says ShoreTel could install UC software on phones, but it is quite costly, and the client only really sees the benefits when using it abroad if connected to Wi-Fi. “And surprisingly a lot of foreign hotels still charge for Wi-Fi,” he says.