Chris Hayes | IT Director
Normally filmed in Burbank, CA, the show occasionally hosts roadshows on location throughout the world. They notably host “ConanCon” in San Diego coinciding with Comic-Con, and a Halloween-themed week in New York City. When uprooted from normal surroundings, the Conan team still needs a way to stay in touch internally and with external partners. They sought a communications system that was flexible enough to set up in new locations, but also reliable enough to handle the pressures of filming in front of a live studio audience.
"Nextiva is top-notch. Since starting to work with them, I’ve encountered legitimately some of the best customer service in any realm. It’s outstanding."
Chris Hayes has been the IT Director for Conan since the show began. His responsibilities are vast, including computer software, telecom, and more. When the idea for roadshows first arose, he was tasked with finding the perfect partner for communications on these trips. After researching companies and talking with sales representatives, he decided to go with Nextiva for scalability, the ease of rolling the system into production, and the mobility features they needed to stay connected from anywhere.
The full production of about 120 employees plus vendors need to be able to use the remote locations just as they use their studio in Burbank. The general production office, publicists, casting, dressing rooms, talent department, hair and makeup, and more need to be in constant communication and represented. When on location, this often means having a constant connection back to Burbank and teams that may be pushed to trucks outside of the actual location. With only a week filming remotely from the studio, plus three days for setup, it can be a challenge to get everything ready and functioning in time.
Hayes mused, "Nextiva is top-notch. Since starting to work with them, I’ve encountered legitimately some of the best customer service in any realm. It’s outstanding." The first project Conan and Nextiva worked on together was in New York at the Beacon Theatre for a week-long broadcast in 2011, and they have continued these projects once or twice a year since.
Members of the Nextiva team travelled to San Diego with Hayes to ensure a proper implementation of service. This included 30 physical phones and Cisco blocks to transfer from Ethernet to RJ for the trucks. They also left two lines on 5-day phone calls to the Burbank office so that they could talk to the team back at the studio at any time.
"We really only need the bare necessities during these stressful roadshows. Nextiva provides us with this reliable service and the autonomy we need," Hayes explained. "I can easily log in to the NextOS 3.0 portal to make any changes that are necessary. It’s intuitive and easy to use… it just makes sense!"
In between roadshows, Hayes stays in touch with Nextiva to keep plans transparent. "I love how proactive Nextiva’s representatives are. They aren’t reactionary like so many other companies. They reach out in advance, and really make you feel valued as a customer. And if I have any questions, I know they’re just a phone call away." He particularly enjoys the relationship he has with his account manager, who is on-hand any time he has questions, and checks in with him monthly.