The Dominion and the Aldwych Theatres are among the brightest jewels in London’s West End crown. They are part of the much larger Nederlander Group which has, over the last 100 years, become the largest owner/operator of theatres across the United States.
They are the dominant force on Broadway, owning nine venues, or 70%, of New York’s Great White Way.
Historically, the Aldwych and Dominion had operated as independent units rather than as part of a unified group. This meant that each site had an entirely different telecoms system… A Panasonic in the Dominion and BT at the Aldwych. The systems were at least 15 years old and were laborious and costly to operate and maintain. By 2011, when Southern Communications were first asked to tender for the contract, it was clear to the group that their phone systems were simply not able to deliver the technological advantages that new technology could offer. From the marketing point of view, they were not able to auto-capture callers’ numbers and geographic data. Also, public places like theatres are prone to hoax or malicious calls, so when these did occur it was not possible to identify where they had come from. There was a cost factor too. Management saw that they were paying for calls to be made between the two theatres, at a time when advances in telecoms technology meant this should not be necessary.
The Southern Communications Solution
The theatres management appointed Southern Communications in 2011 to handle the installation of a new NEC SV8100 at the Dominion first. Rather than contract for both sites at the same time, the management wanted to have confidence that the company would be able to manage both jobs. Their trust in Southern Communications was rewarded: the installation went very well, completed within a matter of hours, so in 2012 Southern Communications were asked to install the same system at the Aldwych. As both sites already shared a single IT infrastructure, it was simple to operate a private VoIP network between the two. In all, 110 standard digital and VoIP extensions were placed across both sites. Southern Communications installed the MyCalls app to enable data gathering from incoming calls and the Desktop Suite, including Auto Attendant, to manage the redirection of incoming calls to the right department or staff member. In the months following the initial installation at the Dominion, Southern Communications were in regular contact with the theatre’s management to ensure the system was operating in line with their hopes and expectations. Together with the fact that only one request for support had to be made in that time, and was promptly handled, this gave the theatres the confidence to commission the Aldwych installation.
“Southern Communications have been fantastic to work with. The implementation of the initial system into the Dominion Theatre was smooth and timely, the call quality, billing and support was fantastic from day one, and we had absolute confidence in asking them to install the second system 12 months later at the Aldwych.”
David Stone, IT Manager, Dominion and Aldwych Theatres
As soon as the second system was installed, there was an immediate financial saving as calls between the two sites no longer had to be paid for. Southern Communication’s access to very low cost external calls also reduced the group’s phone bills. More importantly, however, the two sites now began to see themselves as part of a single organisation. The NEC call management systems could be operated and programmed very easily by the group’s own IT department to create hunt groups, call forwarding and auto-transfer to users in both theatres, aligning staff members by function rather than by location. Management reports could now be created instantly to support decision making in marketing, HR and planning, while the almost limitless scalability of the systems means that future demands, either from extra staff or even extra sites, can be handled seamlessly and at low cost.