A planned hardware refresh led House of Travel to choose all-in-one touchscreen PCs and the Windows 8 operating system. Local travel consultants are excited about the new capabilities for working with customers and the company benefits from a
future-proof platform for integrating new systems and applications.
||Windows 8 is one of the best rollouts we’ve done in years.
| Dave Veronese
Chief Information Officer
House of Travel
For a planned refresh of desktop PCs in 80 retail travel stores located across New Zealand, executives at House of Travel faced a critical decision: Choose the proven Microsoft Windows 7 operating system or embrace the modern user features and platform capabilities
of the newly released Windows 8.
This choice was a significant decision for the company, particularly because travel consultants in the local stores rely heavily on their PCs to research and book travel packages for customers. From the corporate perspective, House of Travel wanted an operating
system that would offer user features such as support for touchscreens and mobile devices, strong security, and an extensible platform for integrating the company’s planned use of Microsoft Lync as a unified communications system and Microsoft SharePoint for
“We wanted a modern, supportable operating system that would be future-proof so we can support it on the new hardware for as long as we can,” says Scott Shearman, Infrastructure Manager for House of Travel.
House of Travel deployed new PCs with Windows 8 to 1150 employees working in 80 travel stores and other company locations in New Zealand. Most PCs in the travel stores are all-in-one units with touchscreens.
Before beginning the full deployment, the IT team conducted a discovery test by placing the all-in-one PCs with Windows 8 into two local stores for user feedback. “With the all-in-one hardware and the touchscreens, the consultants were so excited about Windows
8. They can scroll and zoom through images on the screen just by using their fingers, which makes for a more engaging conversation when they are meeting with customers,” says Dave Veronese, House of Travel CIO. “These consultants created excitement throughout
the company, so the other offices couldn’t wait to get the new system.”
Steve Marshall at HOT Barrington says “The new Windows 8 computers (all in one) are AWESOME – so many wonderful features, probably our favorite would be the “Travel” app – with the ability to show clients panorama pictures of different destinations and be
able to use the touch screens to scroll the 360 degree picture around – very cool !!”
Before full rollout, the House of Travel IT team customized the start screen for easy access to the company’s core applications and to add familiar buttons to ease the user transition from Windows XP. The production operating system image and the rollout
processes were tested in a pilot project of four stores, then the new PCs were deployed in the remaining stores over a period of 12 weeks. “Windows 8 is one of the best new system rollouts we’ve ever done,” says Veronese. “It’s really easy to customize and
rollout to users on a large scale; don’t be afraid of it.”
Users received training on Windows 8 features through focused training materials and interactive lessons, webinars delivered via Microsoft Lync, and in-person training in some stores. In part because of this training and the Windows 8 user interface, the
level of support calls related to the new PCs and operating system was much lower than expected. Support calls were an average of less than 2 per new Windows 8 desktop deployed.
Taking into account the level of change being introduced, and based on statistics from previous hardware refresh projects, this was less than half the support calls we had forecast.
“We’ve gone through other migrations where we had a significant increase in support calls, but that wasn’t the case with Windows 8,” says Jennifer Mason, Customer Support Manager for House of Travel and manager of the desktop refresh project.
Migrating to Windows 8 has brought benefits to House of Travel users and to the company as a whole, including:
• User productivity gains such as faster login and application startup, touchscreen functionality, ability to display multiple windows side-by-side with the Windows 8 Snap feature, speed for loading images and watching videos on travel websites, and better
search function for applications from the Start button.
• Ability to create a new email message or calendar appointment without needing to open Microsoft Outlook.
• Overall improvements in the operating system performance and stability.
• Lower operational costs because of easier support for the new PCs and Windows 8.
• A platform for integrating more digital content and touch applications, as well as enabling use of Microsoft Lync and Microsoft SharePoint across the company.
Perhaps the most important benefit are happy travel consultants, who are excited to be using their new desktop systems.
“We believe our consultants can have better interactions with customers because they are not so distracted by the interaction with their PC,” says Veronese.
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