Avaya’s IP Office Provides Smooth Sailing for Cruise Agency


As a startup travel agency, Luxury Cruise Center was looking for a quick and economical way to implement a new telephone system.

Luxury, which specializes in booking premium travel packages on major cruise lines, also needed to support a contact center to handle incoming customer reservations and outbound telemarketing calls.

What started as a search for a traditional PBX system ended with the installation of Avaya's IP Office, a converged telephony solution targeted at small and midsize customers.

Solution provider North American Communications Resource (NACR) sealed the deal with hands-on demonstrations, said Steve Collins, CIO of Luxury, based here.

"We saw the lab they had set up and got some hands-on demos. After two to three days of testing different configurations, we knew it could handle our needs," said Collins, who estimates that Luxury saved up to $100,000 in equipment costs by deploying IP Office instead of a traditional system.

NACR's solution included Avaya's IP Office, digital and IP handsets, VoiceMail Pro and Compact Contact Center, a suite of reporting and management applications designed for up to 75 local and remote agents.

Implemented in August, the system supports Luxury's 50 employees, including 30 call-center agents.

For Luxury, IP Office provides a tempting combination of rich features, affordability and flexibility, said Jeff Hyman, senior national account manager at NACR, Eagan, Minn.

IP Office has a capacity of up to 256 lines per system and supports a mix of analog, digital and IP phones, giving customers options on how to best deploy the system, Hyman said. It also supports optional voice-mail and CRM components.

"IP Office is priced at an entry level, but it has many of the capabilities of a larger system," Hyman said.

Luxury worked with NACR and Avaya to configure IP Office before it even shipped, Collins said. Because of the speedy deployment, Luxury generated more than $50,000 of additional revenue within the first month of using IP Office, he said.

Avaya's offering also provides detailed reporting for improved management of Luxury's contact-center agents and remote systems management capabilities so Collins can administer IP Office wherever he can access a Web browser.

IP Office routes incoming calls to the idlest agent, ensuring that all of Luxury's sales representatives are fully utilized, Collins said.

To further improve agents' productivity, Luxury plans to integrate IP Office with a back-end SQL database. When completed, the integration will use caller ID to provide agents with instant customer information such as order status and account history, which should help reduce average call time, Collins said.

"We'll be able to provide better customer service because we'll know who's calling and eliminate extra talk time," Collins said. "I'm hoping we can cut 15 to 20 seconds off of each call and get our average call time to nine minutes or less."

Luxury expects to end the year with 100 employees and is already planning to expand its operation by 25 agents at a second location in Northern Florida within the next few months.

The company plans to add a second IP Office system at the new location and will probably work with NACR to connect the two systems, Collins said.

Thus far, IP Office has provided smooth sailing, he said. "We haven't had any downtime or problems with our network."