TUI, the world’s largest holidays provider, has a Specialist Holiday Group (SHG) that manages its exotic and luxury brands. SHG had to move one of its two main office locations to a new site. Their phone numbers had to be relocated with them to ensure business continuity, but moving phone lines to a new location can take weeks.
A smooth and speedy transition was especially important for SHG as the move was scheduled to take place just before Christmas — the busiest time for ski bookings as people make plans for the Easter peak season. Pre-Christmas, SHG’s usual 5,000 daily call volume can rise to 30,000. Any downtime would have led to missed revenue and customer dissatisfaction.
TUI’s SHG unit had a relatively new IP PBX, which was already being shared across two of their existing offices. TUI wanted to leverage this prior investment to seamlessly absorb the well-established numbers from their old offices.
To achieve this, the travel group decided to replace its TDM (time division multiplexed) ISDN lines with SIP trunks. Cost and flexibility were key reasons behind this decision. SIP trunks are IP-based connections that replace circuit-switched connections. They can be considered as ‘virtual wire lines’ (or trunks) that represent simultaneous calls made over a data connection.
Dynamic organisations need a communications infrastructure that can be scaled to their needs. E1 ISDN lines are provided by default in blocks of 30 telephone channels. They can be sub-equipped, but every batch of 30 channels requires additional cabling to be delivered. In contrast, SIP lines are allocated through extra bandwidth and they can be provisioned on the same cable on a virtual line-by-line basis.
Further operational efficiencies are realised because, in a SIP environment, data and voice are carried across the same data network, meaning that one rather than two networks needs to be maintained.
With ISDN, capacity is wasted when phone lines are not in use, whereas a SIP Trunking solution can use the idle voice capacity for the transmission of other data. These efficiencies are why, according to leading IT consultancy firm Gartner, “Businesses report typical savings of more than 20% when replacing legacy TDM infrastructure with SIP trunks.”1
Once SHG’s numbers were ported onto storm, they were routed to the new sites at the click of a mouse, ensuring business continuity during the Christmas rush and connecting their phones to a highly secure platform with 99.999% availability.
As well as having greater resilience than an ISDN network connection, storm allows secondary routing to other locations and tertiary routing to mobile numbers, ensuring that TUI staff are available even if travel or weather disruption prevents them from reaching a particular office.
The storm portal also allows TUI to manage their own numbers, freeing them from reliance on their service provider. They can rapidly provision routing plans and time-scheduled call paths.
Meanwhile, SIP gives the European leisure group a more scalable infrastructure. As SIP lines are provisioned on a line by line basis, TUI only pays for the capacity it uses.
storm helped us deal with the logistical problem of moving offices while making sure that customers and agents could still get through on the phone during the Christmas rush,” said Nigel Smith, IT Director, Specialist Holidays Group, TUI Travel. “We chose the platform because it gives us complete control over our telephony estate, enabling us to re-route our numbers at the click of a mouse. In addition, SIP Trunking has helped us achieve cost savings relative to our old ISDN infrastructure, as well as providing us with a platform for enhancing our communications with new IP capabilities going forward.”
Just a few months into the storm service, TUI decided to add another 400Mbps of data to their SIP trunk capacity. According to Smith, “What started off as a cost-effective solution to a logistical problem has opened up a range of possibilities for improved working and interaction across our entire organisation.”
1. Hype Cycle for Contact Center Infrastructure, 2012 by Drew Kraus. Gartner: 26 July 2012.
How it Works
1. Redwood worked with TUI’s Specialist Holiday Group to migrate their geographic and non-geographic numbers to the storm platform from an old site as staff were relocated to existing TUI offices in London.
2. Number routing plans, including secondary and tertiary routing for disaster recovery (DR) purposes, are provisioned via the online management portal. DR plans can be activated quickly and easily.
3. Customer calls flow through the storm platform.
4. Routing rules provisioned by TUI managers direct calls to either of the two offices, or to home phones and mobile numbers if necessary.
5. The storm Desktop dashboard shows real-time and historical statistics on all communications.