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Case Study

Cost Savings and Reliability are Always in Season at British Columbia Ski Resort

Being able to switch over to a far more intelligent system just completely changed the game for us. There's so much that we can now do that we weren't able to do before.

Panorama Mountain Resort is a four-season destination resort that offers skiing, golf, mountain biking and an abundance of recreational activities and events. Located on British Columbia’s famed Powder Highway, the resort was named “North American Resort of the Year” in the 2016 World Snow Awards. What really makes it stand out though is its status as one of a dwindling number of independently owned and operated ski resorts. This gives Panorama a unique culture that keeps families from around the world coming back year after year.

Thomas Reilly, Business Systems and Technology Manager for Panorama, explains the IT landscape in a ski resort environment: “We have a team of three, including myself, and we're responsible for handling all of the computer systems within the resort. We're simultaneously the IT department for seven restaurants, a hotel, the ski hill and day-to- day business operations” he says. “The general consensus among IT professionals in the ski industry is that we're lagging behind in terms of technology.”

When Reilly joined Panorama, an outdated phone system threatened to bring day-to-day operations to a standstill, ultimately impacting the resort’s bottom line.

“If our phones went down, we wouldn't be able to operate. Communication is a critical component of our business, but, because it's not a new Snowcat or chair lift, it's not necessarily on people’s minds,” Reilly says. “The guy that's skiing on our slopes doesn't care about our new phone system, but he definitely cares if he's not able to call up our reservations department and book his family's vacation.”

A newly deployed Avaya unified communications solution has freed up IT time, saved the resort money and opened up a world of new features.

Panorama Mountain Resort

The Perfect Storm

“When I started at Panorama, I was surprised to find they were operating on a legacy phone system,” recounts Reilly. “I started putting the bug in people's ears that it needed to be replaced. It was now old enough that, were pieces to break, we wouldn’t necessarily be able to procure a replacement.”

The final straw was when the voice mail system stopped working entirely and, despite their best efforts, it could not be fixed. Panorama senior management gave the green light to replace the system, and Reilly got to work shopping around his proposal. In the end, Avaya IP OfficeTM was the best fit for the resort.

“Avaya has a long and successful track record providing VoIP technology,” says Reilly. “IP Office has the functionality we need and is so user friendly in terms of back end management.”

Reilly reports that the Avaya IP Office is a “night-and-day difference” from his legacy system, and that’s freeing up IT staff time. In the past it took anywhere from an hour to a full day to get a phone line up and running, today it takes 30 seconds or less. Moves and changes, which Reilly previously described as “the bane of his existence,” are also a snap to accomplish now.

“The Avaya solution just made a huge difference for us, right away, making our jobs easier,” he says.

Reilly and his team deployed 100 new Avaya handsets at locations throughout the resort. However, replacing the 300 guest room phones wasn’t financially feasible for Panorama. Thanks to the flexibility of IP Office, Reilly was able leverage his existing equipment investment by running the 300 legacy phones on the new Avaya platform. This saved the resort between $30,000 and $45,000.

“It would have been flat out-impossible financially to accommodate that many phones, it would have blown up the budget beyond what we would have been able to handle,” says Reilly.

Avaya partner Atcom expertly guided Reilly and his team through the transition to VoIP.

“I was really impressed with the knowledge Atcom had,” recalls Reilly. “It was about as seamless and painless of a process as I could have imagined for replacing such a major component of the resort. I really can't say enough about just how good those guys were during the deployment and with continuing support.”

Panorama Mountain Resort

An Avalanche of Benefits

The cost savings for Panorama have snowballed. Switching from PRI to SIP has shaved $10,000 a year off of the IT budget, and an integration with a third-party reservation system is saving even more.

The cost savings for Panorama have snowballed. Switching from PRI to SIP has shaved $10,000 a year off of the IT budget, and an integration with a third-party reservation system is saving even more.

“Just moving our reservations system in house and integrating it with the Avaya IP Office is saving us about $15,000 a year.”

Another integration that is creating efficiencies throughout the organization and improving safety is DuVoice, software that links into Panorama’s property management system and allows for automated wake up calls and guest messaging.

“DuVoice also has built-in 911 functionality that we’re now able to take advantage with Avaya IP Office,” explains Reilly. “Previously we had no way to know where a 911 call had originated from.

You can imagine with so many hotel rooms and all the various places throughout the resort, if there was actually an emergency, it would be a needle in a haystack to find the caller. With DuVoice, we’re now able to identify the exact location of a 911 call.”

Reliability has also gotten a boost with the Avaya IP Office implementation.

“We have an Avaya phone running in our summit shack which is at 8,000 feet of elevation,” says Reilly. “It replaced a hard-wired phone that never worked well because of the distance. The capability of Avaya to actually handle a phone that far away is pretty impressive.”

On the features front, users throughout the resort are glad to not only have access to voicemail again, but also use voicemail-to-email functionality. Reilly and his team have also implemented an IT helpdesk with call queuing. And Avaya IP Office reporting features are enabling Panorama to staff reservations agents more intelligently and keep track of long-distance charges.

Off the Bunny Slope

We asked Reilly what advice he’d give to his IT colleagues in the ski resort industry when it comes to making the move to a unified communications solution. He had this to say:

“I think the big thing within this industry as we move forward is really just embracing technology. A lot of technology on resorts is legacy, and I think that's a fundamental mistake. For those with legacy phone equipment I would definitely recommend the Avaya IP Office solution.”

“Being able to switch over to a far more intelligent system just completely changed the game for us,” concludes Reilly. “There's so much that we can now do that we weren't able to do before.”

Challenges

  • Address aging communications system that is critical to day-to-day operations
  • Access to integrations that provide cost savings, organizational efficiencies and boost safety
  • Free up time of lean IT staff to focus on other technology initiatives

Value Created

  • Total yearly cost savings of $25,000
  • Improved safety for resort staff and guests
  • Ability to leverage existing hardware investment, resulting in $30,000 - $40,000 savings
  • IT processes that used to take up to a day, now take mere seconds
  • Greater visibility into staffing levels thanks to full-featured reporting system
  • Access to latest productivity, efficiency and safety applications

Solution

  • Avaya IP Office TM

About Panorama Mountain Resort

Panorama is a four-season destination resort that offers skiing, golf, lift- accessed mountain biking and an abundance of recreational activities and events. The resort was named “North American Resort of the Year” in the 2016 World Snow Awards. Located on British Columbia’s famed Powder Highway, Panorama offers winter enthusiasts 4,265 feet of vertical descent (Top 4 in Canada), wide-open fall-line cruisers, powder- filled tree lines and the steep and deep exhilaration of Taynton Bowl. The resort is home to RK Heliski and BC’s best public golf course at Greywolf.

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