BizTech BizTech Podcasts

92. Hospitality, Safety & More: Revolutionize Communications through Integrations with Mike Baillargeon

October 25, 2023

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Join us today as we discuss a commonly asked question – “Who has the best integrations into XYZ? Mike breaks down some game-changing integrations, five HUGE gold rushes to focus on, along with a ton of use cases, examples, and more as we dive into pots in a box, healthcare, hospitality, banking, and more!

Hey, everybody, welcome back and good morning, good afternoon, wherever you are. I’m your host today, Josh Lupresto We’re talking about hospitality, safety and more specifically, though, we’re diving in to integrations and how that really has helped revolutionize communication. So on back with us, we have got the world renowned CX solution architect, Mike Baillargeon Mikey, welcome on, man.

Thank you. Hospitality safety, oh, my, is what we have today.

Let’s get into it, man. Listen, you know, you’re a return guest on this show, so maybe give us a little bit of a refresher. How did you get started in this space?

English major, substitute teacher, horrible experience, ran back crying to get a math minor in that order, and then moved up to Phoenix and actually worked at a call center, right? So I was the call center agent. This was my script, Josh, you ready?

Six weeks, six weeks of training.

Thank you for calling Cat Fancy magazine, credit card number, please.

We represented about a thousand different magazines. We handle one percent of the U.S. mail every day, delivering magazines and receiving those little cards, memorable cards. You filled out, “Oh, I’ll take a sample copy.” And I decided that that was a pretty hard job, one. It was a pretty boring job.

So then I, of course, gravitated towards I.T. with my vast I.T. experience reading Shakespeare and totally lied to get my job as an I.T. admin.

First day I show up on the job, they’re like, “Okay, well, you know, part of this job is layer one.” I’m like, “Layer one? What is that cake? What is layer one?” I don’t even know what that is, right?

So he takes out a twenty five pair cable, right, splayed it out, and then like a punch tool ninja, he goes, “D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d.” He shows me, “Okay. I’m like, “I don’t know what you did. Is this important?” He’s like, “Yeah. We got to teach you your color code, white blue, is like orange, is white green, is white brown, blah, blah, blah.” blah, blah. At that moment, I had an epiphany that this part of the job was not for Mikey B. I’m not very handy person. You know, I’m really good at buying things at Ikea. And my wife is amazing at putting it together. That’s, that’s how our relationship works so well. So I had this epiphany. I’m like, huh, that’s not for me. But I saw a terminal with some code and everything like that. And I said to the guy, you know, I had no idea this was part of the job. I’m actually colorblind. I’m having a really hard time distinguishing the colors. I’m not sure this is gonna work out. He’s like, you’re colorblind, Mike totally colorblind. I had no idea. He’s like, do you see that terminal over there? I’m like, yeah, he’s like, I don’t like to mess with that. That’s the whole program in the phone system. With a definitive G3R, you know, seven refrigerator cabinets. So I come in over the weekend, figure some out some stuff out, impress me on Monday, like, okay, so I figure some stuff out and rest is history. For those of you keeping score at home, I am not colorblind. I just I just know my limitations.

Well, it’s worked out. So kudos to you. You have harnessed your skills to the maximum. Love it. You know, the other thing I want to talk about is, is I think you’ve you’ve done a great job building up your personal brand, right? I remember when you were coming here, right? We got a lot of phone calls of Oh, my gosh, this guy’s amazing. He’s helped me so much. What a great hire. So you’ve done a great job, you know, building that personal brand. In all the partners that you’ve talked to, give us one or two solid lessons that you’ve learned along the way.

Yeah, here’s the first one. And this is Mike’s golden rule. Right now. I’ve sent this to many partners, partners, suppliers, if you’re listening out there, okay. Partners do something I don’t do, they knock on doors and find leads. Right? That’s hard work. It takes 99 nos to get to one. Yes, right. So when a partner brings me an opportunity to lead, I’m going to treat it with the respect it deserves. I’m going to treat it like gold. I’m going to do everything I can to one, prop that support that partner up in the eyes of the customer. I always say, Oh, that’s why Jerry’s a great advocate. That’s why you know, Keith does this, etc. That’s why it’s great to work, you know, with Steve on this project or Mary or Vanjie or whomever. So I always prop them up. And then the second nugget is when we do have an opportunity, let’s get all the information we can with a discovery, me or Megan or one of our other great teammates, the partner and the customer, and then feed all that information to the supplier and do a prep call with that supplier or suppliers. Okay, well, why do that? One is what we don’t want to happen is you bring in four suppliers and each one want their own discovery call. So that’s four hours minimum two, three weeks of your customers time repeating the same story. By the third one, the customer is going to be like, Mary, why are you even here? If you if I’m just working with the with the suppliers directly, what’s your value in this, right? So we set up the value upfront, we’re going to get this grabbery, we’re going to save you a bunch of time, we’re gonna get right to demo phase, and we’re going to prep the suppliers what they need. The other thing it does is speeds up the sales cycle. Josh, rumor has it that our partners don’t get paid until it gets installed and start billing. Is that true? Is that true? I believe that is true. I believe that it’s built. Hold on. Seems to be yeah, that’s yeah. Yeah. Fact check. Yeah. Confirm, right? Yeah. Yeah. They’re saying yes. Yeah. Okay, good. Seems to be if, if by doing that customer call, the three legged call upfront saves me at least a month of time in the sales cycle, I’m going to get to the point where I get paid faster. And that’s the name of the scheme. Get it off the street, get to the right supplier, keep them informed, keep the the wheel moving in the sales cycle. So those are the two things. Treat every lead like gold, because your partners are doing something you don’t do. And to work with the Telarus team, do that upfront discovery. We talk about who the suppliers are, and then we can get you there. Love it. Alright, so so theme of this track is clearly about integrations. And we’re going to talk about that integrations and differentiator. So let’s kick this off. You know, we’re seeing a lot of things suppliers starting to create some vertical selling capabilities really expanding that. So you know, we’re looking at suppliers for finance and for healthcare. Can you talk about that a little bit, maybe what some of our vertical focuses are for healthcare and finance?

I remember back in the old days, was working for Intertel. Everybody remember Intertel out there. And we came up with one of the first appointment confirmation app apps, right? So we would go into a dentist office or doctor, how much is a canceled appointment fee? Oh, it’s $300. What if we had this app that would call all the people and confirm their appointments, and they cancel it, then you can kind of back that what’s that worth to you? And they gave us a number, we were like, that’s exactly how much it costs. That’s great. And it was a bit of vaporware. But it was sold by some really, really strong salespeople. But what that started me thinking is like, each vertical needs something specific to them. Right? So and I think Telarus is doing a great job with that. If you look at what Shane, and Sam and Kobe, now our good friend Graham are bringing to the table is vertical specific suppliers.

Well, Mike, can’t I sell Vonage or Dialpad to a bank? Yeah, absolutely. In fact, Vonage, now, kudos to them, they have integration to a lot of the banking cores. For those people playing at home, a banking core is the CRM for a bank, right? Don’t say, Oh, do you use Salesforce? And next week, they’re going to say, No, we use Jack Henry. And you’re like, I never heard that CRM, because it’s not a CRM. It’s a banking core. When you talk to credit union and banks, don’t say what’s your CRM say, what is your banking core, and then write it down. Because you’ll, you know, half the time, I don’t even recognize I’m like, I’ve never heard that one before. But it’s important to them. Passport. And Vonage does a good job with that now with their integration. But I think the important part is to have suppliers focus on certain verticals. For instance, we have a great new AI provider called Authentix that only focuses on healthcare. We have a great supplier called Sprinkler. Do not do the Sprinkler dance at home. We’ll be watching. Sprinkler that focuses on sales and marketing. We have Glee, an amazing omni channel digital forward application, contact center application for banks and credit unions. Do I take Glee to healthcare? No, do I take Authentix to banking? No, they stay in their lanes. And I think that’s what’s great about the kind of leadership that Toyota brings to the table. It’s one thing to have 80 suppliers that can really sell agnostically. But it’s another thing to have these single minded, dare I say laser focused suppliers that just knock it out because they speak the bank’s language, they speak the healthcare language, and that’s what they’re focused on. And the newest vertical that we’re really seeing a pickup in is hospitality. You know, we have some great suppliers. Uma is certainly one of the top ones we lean into for hospitality. There’s a few others as well. There’s IP phone and blue line. But these are verticals that we really haven’t approached before. And through integrations, we’re able to do that now. Now, Josh, pop quiz, what’s the CRM for a bank called? Remember, that banking core, banking core. So when you talk to a hospitality company, hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, you don’t say, So what’s your CRM? I went to the CX Lightning, they said it’s all about CRMs. They have a property management system, PMS, right? And you’ll hear words like, Oh, we use opera, we use micro, so we use something else that you’ve never heard of, just write it down. No big deal. Write it down. And then come back to us and we can work with those suppliers to have integrations to that. Love it. Love it. Good stuff. A lot of golden nuggets there. Go back and watch that 10 times. All right, let’s talk about evolution in the telecom industry. We’ve been talking about sunsetting pots for years. We’re still seeing a ton of demand for this. What are you seeing with regard to pots replacement? Yeah, so pots, plain old telephone service. Are you kidding me? It’s a billion dollar a year industry. And that’s the acronym. But it’s got us from there to here, right in my best main accent.

Pots is incredibly still important, right? We still see people with Oh, I have a little on prem PBX and there’s six pots lines plugged into it. Right? Oh, I have an alarm system. Oh, I have a elevator system. So when we talk pots, there’s two things that are important to to distinguish. Is this just for dial is a pot for dial tone? Or is the pots for life safety, elevator, and security? Right? So we have so many awesome suppliers in our portfolio that offer these pots replacements, you might hear it called pots in a box. Again, you know, billion dollar industry and we’re putting it in a box, right? It’s just interesting marketing people go right. So pots in a box. So we have great ones like UMA, which do their own metel granite, Epic IO, we have all these awesome suppliers who either resell somebody else’s unit or manufacture their their own, right? I must take a left turn at Albuquerque here. Josh, give me a little bit of leeway. Of course, we remember the great earthquake of 2018. You remember that, right? You don’t? The great earthquake of 2018 was Cisco buying broad soft. Think about Think about it. The biggest hardware manufacturer on the planet buys the biggest soft switch on the planet. That day validated everybody watching this podcast, it validated that cloud is not tomorrow, it’s today. It’s taken Cisco a few years to kind of figure it out. But you know, they’re in a good path now. But that was monumental. The other monumental day was granite buying epic. Why is that monument? The biggest pot line aggregator on the planet just bought a pots replacement device. Think about that, right? They too, see not just the writing on the wall, but more importantly, the opportunity to convert those pots line which they may be losing to another main to another either aggregator or to another pots in the box manufacturer. Now they can just convert them to their own product. I think it was a very clever acquisition. But again, earthquake in nature. It’s like why do you want to displace your own pot lines? Not that they want to displace their own pot line. They want to get those customers to be more sticky and convert them to the new version of pots, which is now you know, the pots in the box replacement boxes. Now what are these magical boxes you may ask? They’re about yay by yay. And, and it’s just like an ATA, right? ATA Joshua’s that stands for I forget. I’m old. Analog telephone appliance. Yeah, sure. Adapter appliance. And like telephone adapter. There it is. Yeah, whatever. Yeah. You didn’t know there’d be a quiz today. Yeah, I did not study.

Anyways, so we know what an ATA is, right? Classic, it’s a little box. One side has an RJ11 that physically connects to the fax machine. The other is plugged into the local area network. So then it’s an extension on an IP system, whether it be a on prem IP system or UCaaS system. Well, a pots replacement box is the same basic thing. You have one end that physically connects to the elevator line, or the alarm system or the fax machine, or the door opener. And the other line rather than plugging into local area network is then plugged into the wide area network, right? It’s plugged into the internet side. Now, the key to this is always asking, what is this box plugging into? Right? We talked about that. For it to be life safety certified. For it to be life safety certified, that only is in the US. We’ll talk more about that in a minute. But that means that it is certified to be plugged into elevators plugged into alarms. That if the power goes out, the battery backup, if the internet goes out, then there is LTE backup. So there’s special certification that these boxes need to have. So as you approach suppliers, you always want to say, are you life safety certified? The ones in our portfolio, the ones that we talked about, that I mentioned earlier, absolutely positively. There are go to as well as a bunch of others who do a great job as well. Just come to us, we can help you out. Beautiful. Speaking of I’m just going to grab on your earthquake theme here. There was a pretty monumental day in 2022 that yeah, this was already selling. People were already starting to do this, right? We’d seen a lot of partners do a lot of big deals. But August 2 2022, what is that FCC decision? And what does it mean?

Yeah, so the United States Federal Communications Commission, they said, listen, if you are a carrier, you no longer have to provide pot service in your network, you can walk away from it, you can charge 300 bucks a line. We don’t care. It’s an old technology that will no longer regulate. We’ve seen the shift away from pots to sip trunking to cloud based communications.

We’re not gonna worry about anymore. Right? To me, that’s a minor 49er gold rush, right? Because what that says is if you have a customer and they have pot lines, ask them what their bill was three months ago, and ask them what their bill was now. Not three months ago, we’re paying $45. Now we’re paying 90. Now we’re paying 120. Now we’re paying 200. That’s when you have that pots in the box conversation. And educate them. You know why the pricing went up? You know why you get the letter from Verizon saying it’s going to be discontinued? Well, on August 2 2022, the FCC said that providers no longer have to provide these pots lines, these services, as they were an older technology. And it’s being replaced by this newer technology called pots replacement. What I would love to do is to bring in one of my trusted suppliers to tell you about why their service is cheaper than what you’re paying today, but much more technology forward, and just as robust and reliable as what you have today. That’s the conversation. Beautiful. I’m going to come to an example here in just a second. But I want to go back to a point before we forget about it. We’re talking about verticals and integrations. Is there any verticals that, you know, when we started doing this, right,UCaaS is a mature practice at this point. But is there any verticals that might not have been a fit for traditional UCaaS players, but then all of a sudden, an integration pops up and changes all of that? Yeah, there’s two verticals that were always a bit, we’re a bit persona non grata, right? Federal government, we still struggle with that. Still have trouble with that. The other is hospitality. Why? Let’s think about it, right? So hospital, you go to a hotel, right, you check in, you grab your suitcase behind you, and, and then you walk over to the bed, you pop on, and then you look over, you see this 1975 analog telephone with about that much dust on it. And the only time you pick it up, you wash it first, right? You pick it up, is to order towels, toilet paper, or tacos. That’s it. The three T’s. The three T’s. Listen, I travel a lot. I’m all about those three T’s. I’m just saying TMI. I’m not sure. But you know, the weight of my heart is a good taco. I’m just saying, suppliers if you’re listening. Anyways, but why is that important? Because they have an on prem system, right? On prem system, capital expense, they pay at one time, and they just kind of depreciate over five 10 years, whatever. So if I’m a UCaaS product, I go in there and say, Oh, you need to go UCaaS dump your on prem for all these reasons, right? And then, and then the hotel owner says, Well, what about the all those hundred analog phones? And the UCaaS supplier does this? Yeah, well, you know, you know, maybe what we will do is we’ll just be the front desk in the call centerpiece. The on prem PBX will handle all the old school technology. And we never made any traction, maybe on the context on our side, but certainly not on the front desk side. And there’s two reasons for that. One is we couldn’t get the pricing down the analog phones. And then two, we couldn’t integrate to the PMS system property management system. So about a year or two, we had a couple really brave UCaaS suppliers dive headfirst into this. And what they’ve done is a couple really great things. One is they can integrate to the PMS. Now, it’s not a direct integration, what you’ll hear the term jazzware.

Right. And jazzware is a is basically an integrated integration tool, think of it like Zapier for property management systems. Oh, I love that. Yeah. And trademark in that Josh, it’s like Zapier for for property management. It’s the middleware that gets the UK has provider into the property management system and vice versa. So, Uma is a great example of that. I mentioned IP phone. I mentioned blue line info BIP. Fun name, great company. I think they still have a practice in that. Come to us we can help you. The other thing that they did, which is super important, is they said, listen, we get those rooms will never be used or be used for the three T’s. Right. Why not just charge like, you know, three, four or five bucks for those a month? Right? Just just to say they have a license, they get down 911, they can they can dial downstairs, they can make long distance calls, they want to. But you know, it’s the 911 issue. So they only charge like, you know, four or five dollars in extension for that. So now it’s palatable to the hotel owner. So now it’s cheap analog. It’s also good integration to PMS. But the third very important thing was, remember, they had on prem PBX. So they had, you know, two chucks in a truck telecom install it come down with the punchdown Ninja. These suppliers will also go on site with their high density ATA to move all the lines everything. So it, you know, when you when you convert 100 employee company from a short tail system to a dial pad system, pretty easy. They’re already on IP, just unplug the short tail phone and plug in the polycom or just go straight soft pretty easy. But when you’re talking about a minimum of 100 analog lines, that you know, all that layer one stuff is not really easy as cake to work with. So they do on site services, which is fantastic. Now. Here’s the thing, if you’re talking to a hotel, they have what elevator alarm. So you’re talking half patella, do you see but you’re also talking? That’s in the box, right? So don’t let that fastball pass you by, right? So see how horizontal these things can be. Every customer you talk to, oh, you have 50 users, I’m gonna put you on a go to system. And you have an alarm system or a elevator, you know, oh, yeah, we do that. Okay, tell you what, as part of this project, we’re going to replace the pots lines in that as well. With newer technology, can we want to modernize everything? Yeah, sounds good. Give me a quote on that. So easy. That is, it’s just a natural progression to the conversation of modernizing everyone. Why modernize the phone system, and then leave the $50 a month, copper in the ground pot slides. Don’t swing and miss, boys and girls, you can do it. Love it. I’m just glad that cake made an appearance back into the conversation again. I know I like how you brought that full circle. Nice work. Final, final couple thoughts here. So I want to hear an example. So I think you’ve given you’ve alluded to a lot of conversations that tee up a lot of examples, but maybe bring us home with final final two thoughts here. Walk me through an example you walked in, what was the problem? What were they struggling with? And then what did we ultimately put in?

In general, a focus on hospitality or either just a good I think a good just whatever you think it’s the best use case. Okay, to use cases. I always say not all my stories are true, but these are actually true. I had a great partner out of New York relocate to Florida. I know that never happened. New Yorkers going to Florida blew my mind, right? Anyways, a good friend of mine. He’s like, Mike, I have a buddy owns a hotel out in Nevada. They have an old school phone system and it dead as a doornail. He’s he obviously 911 issues, he can’t make reservations. It was just a private 100 room hotel. I need something like immediate. Not to plug anybody, but I called UMA have some good friends over there for my short tail days. I said, Hey, listen, I need a quote today. I need install within two days. Got him the quote, we got it signed within two days, they were up and running. So something like that is a true story. So these suppliers can move very, very quickly. You know, even with just temporary numbers. I mean, they didn’t have time to port the number. So it was remote. Yeah, remote call forward and all that. But guess what? It works. Right. So that was number one. So that was in the hospitality business. The next one, also a true story. Oh my gosh, two true stories today. What’s going on? Another good partner in OG partner Hall of Fame, Telarus Hall of Fame partner based in beautiful New Jersey. New Jersey gets a bad rap. Once you leave Newark, it’s actually a very pretty state. Anyways, I digress. Beautiful New Jersey. He said, Mike, I’m working with this company, they have 500 RV parks around the country. And they use pots for the door opener for alarm, they have an elevator, because they have storage units. So they have a two story. And, you know, they were on, let’s just say winstream. And winstream said, hey, we’re not supporting you. And pot sign them all you need to figure this out. So we turned to one of our trusted pots in the box providers. And they went out on site to set up three or four as a proof of concept. They set them up. It was on the job training. Hey, this how you plug it in, how you program it, this is what it should look like. Because it was going to be rinse and repeat, right? Every RV park was the same. The door opener, I need elevator, I need alarm. Right. So I show you how to fish. And you can, if I teach you how to fish, you get fish for your family, right? Set up the PLC went great. And now every month, that partner says, oh, they must have installed another 10, 10 pots in the boxes, because my check just went up. Oh, they must have done another 10 because I just got more money. Also, some of these suppliers also have spiffs on their pots in a box. A pots and box only 40, 45 dollars a month. But one times 500 is nice. And two, with some of them having spiffs is absolutely worth the conversation, especially if you have multiple site, think of property management company you work with, oh, we have 100, 100 apartment buildings, whatever. Great use case for that. They have an elevator, they have an arm. So I started this conversation with my partner’s knock on doors to find leads. I treat that like gold. Knock on doors. We’re here to give you a few use cases to help you sell more. Love it. All right. Final thoughts. Look out to the future.

I’m out here out west. So let’s talk about the gold rush. What is your envisionment? A couple key things for the future next 12 plus months. Where’s the gold rush coming?

Five gold rushes. One. COVID horrible time for humanity, right? Companies have to send people home. And they did they make a then they said, Oh my gosh, my Cisco system doesn’t do that. It’s gonna cost me a fortune. I’m going to Google best cloud phone system. The first one pops up, I’m just gonna have buy. Did they make a rash decision? Or did they make a rational decision? Right now? 2020? What year are we in Josh? I forget 2323 roughly, right? Almost 2424. So those three year contracts are coming up for renewal. What does that mean? That means now your customers can take a step back, say, Hey, listen, we made a rash decision going with Billy Bob SIP service. Let’s make a rational one. Let’s bring you in to talk through what went wrong and how to fix that. That’s one to see pass. If you see Shane Speakman, he’s got CPAS tattooed on his arm right there. Yeah, the barbed wire CPAS communication platform as a service. Think of it as automation and mass messaging. How do we get an outage? I’m a utility company. How do I get that? There’s an outage out in Camden County? Right? How do I tell my school parents that there’s no school today? How do I tell my employees, hey, we’re doing an employee survey, are you happy? Hey, how do I have 1000 field techs out there? How do I know when they show up to a job job site? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to call in, enter their employee ID 1234? Right. And that way I can kind of keep track of that. Communication platform as a service. I’m telling you, it’s going to be the next big thing. Two, three pots in the box. I think see, see biscuits just about dead on that one. I think we covered that. Okay.

AI. People are talking. It might be a thing, I guess. But, you know, anytime the federal government does a congressional committee about a technology, you need to sit up and pay attention. Now, I think that Ultron and Terminator and Hal and Agent Smith gave AI a bad rap rap, right? So we work with the white hat, good guy, AI company. So come to myself, come to JLo come to Megan, we do a training on AI for all of our partners, he’s about 30 40 minutes. And we talked about the three phases of AI, pre agent, in agent, post agent, we have suppliers that do all of it. Or we have suppliers that do one portion of it. How many was that? Beautiful. That was for COVID contracts, CPAS and AI. Okay, I guess it’s for hospitality.

Hospitality. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Bring us home. Yeah. And the plane. You got it.

On-prem PBXs, right? Awesome, awesome, awesome stuff. But they have a shelf life. And that shelf life is coming due. And more and more are going to be more and more of these hotels are gonna be looking to you. Fun fact, I was working with a Hilton property. And the Hilton property said we can only buy off the Hilton what’s approved on the Hilton contract. I went to the Hilton site of who’s the approved PBXs. They’re all on prem PBXs. So if you do have like a Hilton or a Marriott caution, they’re about 15 years behind the rest of the world.

Focus on boutique hotels, spas, right? Smaller hotels, resorts.

Happy to visit any resorts in Jamaica and do an on-site visit for you. I’ll take the hit. Yeah, so if you work with the big brands, be careful. They have their own list and can’t get around that. And again, the listed all on-prem but resorts, spas, boutique hotels, minor, 49er, gold. Beautiful. Okay. Mikey B. Lots of nuggets on this one. Lots of sales tips, lots of upcoming technology trends, as always. Lots of good stuff, man. Thanks for coming on. Thank you. Thanks, buddy.

All right, everybody that wraps us up for today. Mike Baillargeon world-renowned CX architect, under host Josh Lupresto SVP of Sales Engineering. This has been integrations and more CX. Until next time.