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In the fast-paced hospitality industry, high-speed internet and advanced technology are expected for a comfortable guest experience. Today we’re taking an in-depth look into a hotel’s tech needs and solutions with Cal Sheehy – General Manager of London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
With 122 rooms along the Colorado River, London Bridge Resort is a stunning getaway location with amazing views and outdoor recreational opportunities. But to give new guests superior connectivity and a stress-free experience, the hotel needed to upgrade its technology infrastructure. Cal and his team turned to Frontier to provide advanced communication solutions including a new phone system, an updated fiber network, and improved guest Wi-Fi.
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Man: Welcome to Gain Your Edge, the podcast created for IT professionals, business owners, and leaders looking to sharpen their edge over the competition. Our ever perceptive host, Skip Lineberg, introduces you to industry thought leaders. Listen and learn from their insights as Skip gets inside the minds of our guest gurus, revealing new ideas, opportunities and insightful updates for you. It’s all sponsored by Frontier Business Edge, your edge in success. Now, here’s our host, Skip Lineberg.
Skip: Welcome to Gain Your Edge, your twice a month podcast on all things IT. I’m your host, Skip Lineberg, Senior Marketing Manager with Frontier Communications. Our goal with Gain Your Edge Podcast is to help you gain a competitive edge for your business. I’m really glad you’ve decided to listen into episode 30 of Gain Your Edge. Thanks for joining us. This week we’re visiting with Cal Sheehy, General Manager of the iconic London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The resort is a 122-room hotel situated on 110 acres along the Colorado River in scenic Lake Havasu. The hotel made the decision to replace its existing outdated phone system with a new voice solution from Frontier. Today, we’ll hear all about what Frontier did to meet London Bridge’s business communication needs and how those needs relate to the hospitality industry in general. Good morning, Cal. Thanks for joining us on the show today.
Cal: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
Skip: Cal, before every show, we like to do what we call “warm-up the mics question.” It’s a little playful, maybe a tiny bit silly but here’s mine for you. Given who you are and what you do in your industry which, of course, is hospitality, here goes, Cal, every day, you see folks on vacation ready to kick back by the pool, maybe spend some time by the lake and take in a few beautiful sunsets. So for you, if you could have a month long all expenses paid trip with no responsibilities back home where would you go and what’s the main thing you would do while you’re there?
Cal: Skip, that sounds amazing. My business as you know… Travel is important to me and to have a whole month, I almost can’t even imagine it, but…
Skip: That’s hard. Yeah.
Cal: You know, there are so many options out there but I probably… If I could do a whole month, I would probably jump in an RV and maybe travel around the United States and do a tour of the National Park System.
Skip: Oh, yeah.
Cal: And check out the great sites we have here in the United States.
Skip: That would be way cool. Let me give you my answer. It’s quite similar. I would love to go from park to park, but Baseball Park to Baseball Park. I like the RV idea and I would like to watch as many games as I could in as many different major league baseball parks over that 30-day period.
Cal: Yeah. That sounds like a good time. I’ve actually talked to somebody that…who’s done that. They almost have marked off the entire list but they still have a couple more to go.
Skip: Well, that sounds fun. I envy them.
Cal: I agree.
Skip: Well, Cal, let’s talk about your resort and what Frontier Communications did for London Bridge Resort. Talk to us a little bit about the technological needs that Frontier helped you with?
Cal: You know, the hospitality industry is ever changing and technology is a huge component of what our guests are looking for. It’s actually not what they’re looking for, it’s what they expect.
Cal: They expect high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity at the drop of a hat. They expect to be able to communicate with our team at every turn that they have. And so we really were looking for a solution that would enable our guests and us to communicate with each other on all platforms. So, whether it’s through, you know, a traditional telephone or through connectivity through Wi-Fi or through our systems and, you know, managing our backend databases and all of those different components that are behind the scenes and sometimes forgotten about are important pieces of what we needed to have. And so when we started the initial conversations with Frontier, you know, we’ve just kind of outlined exactly what, from a business side, we do and then from a guest expectation side. And we came together to find a solution that would meet those need.
Skip: Cool. And so in that sort of scoping out phase, did you find some gaps or some things that were missing? And then did Frontier present some alternatives or recommendations to fill those gaps?
Cal: Yeah, definitely. We were replacing a system that was 20 plus years old. So as you can imagine, there were a lot of gaps in the system. We obviously, over the years, as I would assume many businesses do, you know, we put together workarounds and things that we were still able to deliver the service but not in the most efficient way or through the best channel. And so through that discussion, you know, it took several conversations for Frontier to show us the advances in technology that we had been lacking and allow us to kind of wrap our head around what that would mean for us if we fully implemented them. And then we were able to really open our mind to the opportunities that were gonna be offered to us. So, yeah, Frontier put together a lot of different opportunities that would solve challenges that we had within our operation.
Skip: I’m glad to hear that. Very good. Cal, before we go further into the technology and the solutions and all of that, would you set the scene for us, paint a picture for us if you would, a word picture of London Bridge Resort. If I were to arrive there and pull up to the resort for the first time, what would I see and hear? What would I smell? What are the sites and sounds that make this such a special place?
Cal: Yeah. London Bridge Resort is located in beautiful Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We’re located right on the Colorado River. Geographically, we’re about three hours northwest of the Phoenix area.
Cal: And about two hours south of Las Vegas.
Cal: That kind of gives you an idea of where we’re at. We’re centrally located in the American southwest. You know, we’re about four hours from the LA area, four and a half hours from San Diego, three hours down to Phoenix, two hours to Vegas, two and a half hours up to the Grand Canyon. So we’re really located in a great spot for visitors to come in and be able to experience a lot of the southwest area.
Cal: What’s makes [inaudible 00:05:58] unique is the lake and the Colorado River. And then also the iconic London Bridge, which was brought here piece by piece from London and was repurposed here in Lake Havasu and actually is adjacent to our property. So looking out our windows when you first arrive to the property, you’re gonna see a 110-acre property with three swimming pools. We’re an all-suite property. We have meeting and banquet facilities, restaurants, nightclubs, dining, shopping, all of those types of things. And then the backdrop is the Bridgewater channel and the world famous London Bridge.
Skip: Wow. That sounds fascinating. So I’m envisioning lots of warm sunshine.
Cal: Arizona is known for the sunshine.
Skip: Yeah, yeah.
Cal: Yes. We have many warm days here and our visitors love the sunshine and the warm weather and to be able to get out and explore the great outdoors. We have boating and fishing and kayaking. And then we have the desert, so hiking, offroading, all of those different areas to explore as well.
Skip: I can’t wait to visit. And Cal, I’m a photographer. So, I’ve got to imagine with the southwestern terrain and the beautiful bright sunshine and the bridge that there has to be some great shots for photographers to capture there nearby.
Cal: Absolutely. You’ll be able to, you know, whether it’s just architecture that you want to get or landscape or wildlife there are so many opportunities for photographers to be able to capture Lake Havasu City.
Skip: I love it. I can’t wait to visit. Back to the technology and what you do in the hospitality business, I’m sure London Bridge Resort puts a very high emphasis on making guests comfortable. After all, they’re coming there to get away from the stresses of life. Cal, explain for our listeners how things like a better phone system, a better voice network, a more reliable Wi-Fi connection, better data network, how do those amenities, how do those infrastructure items if you will make for a better guest experience and make your guests more comfortable while they’re there?
Cal: Well, you know, they’re some of the most important components of the overall guest experience. So if my team was able to provide superior service and great accommodations, great food and beverage offerings but we weren’t able to meet the technology standards that were required, that guest would check out and find a different alternative, rather than staying with us. So it’s a really important piece of what we do here. And without those technology platforms, you know, the guest experience is going to be diminished in some way or another. So when it comes to traditional, you know, telephone systems and those types of things, you know, over the years as cell phones have become more popular the importance of the telephone side is actually internally to the guest when they’re actually staying here and they’re in a room or a suite and they want to call down and have services of some sort throughout our property.
Cal: But that’s during the guest stay. Prior to the guest stay when they’re actually in the planning phase, that’s the most important part to make sure that telecommunications is working because that’s how we communicate with each other before they even arrive in Lake Havasu City. So they may be in the planning stage, they may be, you know, considering making a reservation, considering London Bridge Resort or Lake Havasu City. And it’s through those communication methods that we’re able to actually convert that person to choose London Bridge Resort and to stay with us. So, you know, that’s kind of a backend area that isn’t always focused on because it’s just there. But how do we really make sure that the right people on my team are connecting with a guest at the right time? And that’s where Frontier came in to help us with a solution.
Skip: Perfect. Well, thanks for sharing that with us. We’ll pause right here for a brief 30-second break.
Man: The best edge in business is inspiration. If you’re inspired by this podcast and today’s topic, Frontier is ready to help you put that inspiration into action. For a free consultation and to learn more about communication solutions that give your business an edge over the competition call us at 888-200-0603. That’s 888-200-0603. Or send an email to email@example.com. Frontier Business Edge, the edge you need to succeed. Now, back to the podcast.
Skip: Welcome back to Gain Your Edge. Today our guest expert is Cal Sheehy, General Manager of London Bridge Resort from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. And we’re talking about business communications and solutions for the hospitality industry. Hey, Cal, let’s pick up where we left off and if we could just summarize the communication solutions that Frontier helped you to achieve and install over the recent years. If you would just click through those for us from the phone system to the network and make sure that our listeners have a clear understanding of how our company collaborated with yours.
Cal: Certainly. Frontier has been a long-standing technology partner with London Bridge Resort over the years. And we’ve together done several large projects. One was bringing fiber into the property so that we have better reliability in our network and we’re also, because of that, able to build in some redundancy into our system. So for the business side of things, we’re able to continue. And from the guest’s point of view, there’s never an issue. It’s just a very seamless transition when we put those redundancy measures in place. We’ve also invested in a new phone system, which is the traditional PBX in a way that we can communicate when guests are on-property as well as when they’re initially contacting us to make their selection of accommodations when they’re in Lake Havasu.
Cal: And then they’ve also helped us with our guest Wi-Fi system, which is paramount to the hospitality business these days that there’s, you know, it’s an expectation that if you can’t provide, you know, they will seek accommodations or services elsewhere.
Skip: And they’ll share those negative stories on social media, right?
Cal: Yes, they will. But fortunately, we don’t have that challenge because Frontier has been able to step in and help us solve that challenge that we had. You know, our property has been around for several years and, you know, when it was initially built, it wasn’t built with these types of technologies in mind because they weren’t even out there. No one even thought of having Wi-Fi connectivity at the tip of your fingertips at any given moment. So Frontier was able to play a large role in helping us transition to make sure that we were able to meet those ever-changing needs as they occur.
Skip: Thanks for that summary, Cal. I appreciate it. Hey, you talked about something that I want to go back to which was the initial phone call from a potential guest. They haven’t decided they’re coming to London Bridge resort yet. They’re kind of shopping around. They’re doing some research. Talk to us about your communication system and how those improvements impact that first call that a guest makes when they are kind of scooping out where to stay and where to go.
Cal: With the Frontier Solution, we were able to integrate the automatic call distribution system. And so based on the toll-free number or the local number that a potential guest is calling through, we’re able to automatically route that call into the right call center where we have representatives available that are experts in that particular area. So whether it’s reservations or dining reservations or attractions or just general information, we’re able to get the guest routed in the first phone call phase directly to the person that’s going to be able to assist them.
Skip: That’s really, really cool. Getting to the right person who knows what you’re calling about and can provide expertise right there without having to be transferred. That’s got to be a nice convenience.
Cal: Definitely. Our guest satisfaction scores have increased after we had initiated the ACD or the automatic call distributions system on the frontend. And on the backend, we have some great reporting metrics and measurements that we’re able to do live to make sure that we have the right number of agents available, the right number of lines available for guests to call through to and really increase that service level for our potential guests.
Skip: Wonderful, wonderful. Hey, Cal, let’s shift gears a moment here and talk a little bit about the interplay between front of house and back of house services. So much happens in your industry, the hospitality industry, behind the scenes to create that pristine look when guests walk in or when they’re coming down for a banquet or a dinner. Did the systems that Frontier installed for London Bridge lead to back of house improvements too?
Cal: Definitely. The reporting capabilities on the pre-call that we were just talking about through the ACD system has been a tremendous help to ensure we have the proper staffing levels and that we’re really utilizing our human resources and human capital in a way that is going to directly benefit the guest and the guest experience. In addition to that, we also use some of the technology integration with our housekeeping team. And through the push buttons of certain codes on the in-room phones, it automatically notifies our property management system and our room inspectors that that room is now ready to be inspected, that the housekeeper has finished the suite and it’s ready now for an inspector to come inspect and give the final signoff, at which time the inspector goes in and is able to inspect the room and give the final signoff, enter a different unique code, which automatically changes the status in our property management system for the front desk team to vacant and ready.
Skip: That’s cool.
Cal: Which now allows us to immediately get the next guest checked into the suite all seamlessly without any connectivity other than the technology platform that Frontier installed.
Skip: I appreciate you sharing that. I always wondered how that worked. And I could see how that system would create more room availability for your guests who want to check in and also would prevent delays along the same lines.
Cal: Yeah. It’s been a great addition to what we had done previously, which was very manual, very paper-oriented and also took a lot of time because you would have to…the inspector would go through and inspect several rooms before they would call in a report of what rooms are now available for guest check-in. And our guests… You know, Lake Havasu is a great place to be and people want to get here, settle, and get out and explore. And the quicker we can make that happen for them the better. And with this technology, we’re able to do so.
Skip: Great. Great example. Cal, just general question here, what’s your mix of room nights or revenue, however you want to approach the question, between the recreational traveler and the business traveler?
Cal: You know, Lake Havasu is primarily a recreation destination. And so the majority of our business does come from folks on leisure travel. So they’re through, exploring the southwest or they’re here to experience what Lake Havasu City has to offer. So about 85% is leisure and about 15% would be in the business segment if you will.
Skip: Okay. Great. And I could imagine, in that mix, that maybe one of your strategies is to get someone there who’s on…recreational traveler and they go, “Wow, this would be a great place to host our next meeting,” and they bring a group back there. Does that ever happen?
Cal: Definitely. And that’s actually where the majority of our meetings and conferences come from is from people that have a connection to Lake Havasu City either through a repeat travel that they’ve come to the destination several times and they want to show off what a great destination Lake Havasu City is to their group members or that, you know, they have family that resides in Lake Havasu City. And so they want to connect through that connection. But the majority of our meetings and conference business does come through that channel.
Skip: That makes total sense. Perfect. I know the more information that we all have at our fingertips, the better we can operate, the better we can manage our businesses. In your case, the better you can serve your guests. So again, Cal, talk to us how the new communication systems, including the phones and the fiber-based internet, give you more visibility into the key metrics that you need to help you manage and grow your business.
Cal: Yeah. The metrics are really important to make sure that the technology is working in the way that you anticipated it and that it’s meeting the needs of your guests, most importantly, and then also the needs of the backend office solutions, which are just as important to make sure that we spend less time on the backend and more time on the frontend, making sure we’re giving great service to our guests. The metrics that are most important to us and that have been the most valuable is the metrics we get from staffing levels based on the different call centers that we operate and making sure that we’re utilizing the correct number of staff at the right time to meet the guest’s needs, rather than just having, you know, traditional static schedules that might not meet the needs of our guests.
Cal: We can now measure call volumes at certain times which, you know, as you would imagine, would be the areas that other folks are off. So, you know, during the lunch hour and the evening, early morning, you know, those are areas that we’re able to sap up. And now we have true metrics behind it to make sure that we have the right folks there to assist our guests. In addition, we’re able to now monitor call volume through different dedicated toll-free numbers, so we can really monitor our marketing efforts across multiple channels.
Skip: Right. Yeah. Are the phones ringing enough? And what’s making them ring, right?
Cal: Right. Yeah. What’s that channel that made them ring in the first place? So we’re able to really hone in on that which has been invaluable to us to really plan our marketing strategies.
Skip: Very cool, very cool. Cal, since the solutions that you worked with Frontier to install, have been in place, what are some of the differences you’ve seen from when you had the old systems? I guess what I’m trying to ask is how far have you come and how much better off is London Bridge Resort today?
Cal: Well, you know, that’s a fairly easy question for us, just because as I mentioned earlier, we were…our system was 20 plus years old.
Cal: And so you can imagine the changes, especially in technology, you know, over those 20 years. So we were able to see immediate noticeable differences, things from…as simple as the aesthetics of the phones sitting on desks that are now modern and flashy and bright and have immediate features that we can connect to other departments and take our office phone and mirror it to our cell phone and vice versa so that it’s just a seamless transition. So some of that just real basic stuff, that you would think is basic today, was not even around 20 plus years ago.
Cal: So we were able to see immediate differences on the way we were able to communicate, the reliability of the communications, the redundancies put into play. Since we installed the system, we’ve never had a down day on our telephone system.
Skip: Oh, wow. That is great.
Cal: So, yeah. We were able to see immediate differences here at London Bridge Resort.
Skip: Cal, one of the things you touched on their sort of perked my ear up and that’s the appearance, the aesthetics, the perception of modern state of the art equipment, you know, whether it’s a phone or a Wi-Fi connection mechanism, perception is reality, right? In a business like yours and mine, I’m in marketing, you’re in hospitality, perception is vital, isn’t it?
Cal: Absolutely. And sometimes when you’re into something, you don’t recognize a phone that’s 20 years old sitting on a desk somewhere is creating that perception to a guest until you change it.
Cal: And you’re like, “Oh, I get that. Now, I see why someone might have said that it was dated or it was old or it felt like something that it’s not.”
Cal: And once you can see the difference and, you know, it seems it’s so simple but once it changed, it changed the whole perception of our team and how…the pride that they saw in the technology platforms that we had.
Skip: Well, that’s it too. So a big perception boost for guests and for employees, right?
Skip: Yeah. Very cool. All right Cal, coming down the home stretch here and just sort of wrapping up our very, very interesting conversation, let me ask you this, what would you say to a hospitality manager or owner today, someone who is still suffering with the limitations of old communication systems and they’re sort of just kicking the can down the road? Would you recommend they make the investment in a new system like you’ve done at London Bridge?
Cal: Yeah, definitely. It’s a great opportunity to partner with Frontier. Sit down and discuss the challenges that you’re having and of how Frontier can assist you to overcome those challenges. You know, there are some very affordable solutions out there that can be very easy to implement or transition. And Frontier is there to help and make that happen. The investment is definitely worth the return, especially from a guest service standpoint and from an efficiency standpoint. I definitely would recommend somebody that’s on the fence to, at a minimum, contact Frontier and sit down with their rep and really talk through what they want to do and then, certainly, make that investment to take their property to the next level.
Skip: Thanks for sharing that thought with our audience. In terms of service and support, have you felt well-supported from the local Frontier technicians and engineers that are in your area?
Cal: Yes. And like I said, Frontier has been a longstanding partner with London Bridge Resort over the years. So we’ve had a relationship built with the local service techs and, you know, we see them in the grocery store and they see us out at events. And so we regularly work with each other. And so that was a very seamless transition for us.
Skip: No wonder it’s been such a great partnership. Cal, thank you so much for joining us today to speak about the hospitality industry and how technology makes a difference in that very competitive space. I’ve really enjoyed you taking us behind the scenes, how things work, perception, guest experience. It’s been very, very interesting. And I think some of our listeners maybe ready to book flights to Arizona as we speak.
Cal: We would love to have them stay at London Bridge Resort. Just look us up online.
Skip: Thank you so much. Well, we find ourselves at the bottom of another episode. Episode 30 of Gain Your Edge has come to an end. That’s all the time we have today. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’d like to download it for your library or you’d like to share it with a friend, you can download it at frontier.com/gainyouredge or on iTunes or the Podcast App. Please join me, Skip Lineberg, next time on Gain Your Edge. Until then, get out there and have some fun this week. See you next time.