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 Daylight Savings Time (DST) Begins Early this Year - Look Out for
Hiccups in Guest Service if Not Effectively Planned For
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Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins early this year and is expected to cause some hiccoughs in guest service if not effectively planned for.  While none of these glitches are likely to endanger guests or staff, they could prove to be an inconvenience for them and an embarrassment for you. 

Recap

To recap the issue, in 2005 Congress passed the Energy Policy Act which changed the start both the start and end dates of DST. This year, DST begins on March 11, 2007, a full three weeks earlier than in pervious years, and will end one week later in the Fall on November 4, 2007.  Canada has decided to follow the new U.S. schedule for DST while Mexico has not.  Many applications/systems either contain internal reference tables that permit them to automatically adjust for DST or they depend on the operating system (OS) of the hardware they are resident upon to make the adjustment for them.  A good general description of the problem can be found at the URL listed below as well as links to key resources. 

http://www.edgeblog.net/2007/daylight-saving-time-the-year-2007-problem/ 

While the potential ramifications of this change have gone seemingly unnoticed by both vendors and hoteliers alike, and will certainly not be as dramatic as those posed by Y2K, it only takes a few mistimed wake-up calls and missed flights to enormously inconvenience guests and generate unfavorable press for the industry.

Approach

On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007 Hospitality Upgrade and BearingPoint jointly distributed a survey to 121 hospitality system vendors requesting information on the current status of the DST readiness of each of their products.  The requested response date for the vendor survey was Feb. 13, 2007.  On Thursday, Feb. 9, 2007 an article was published on Hotel Online Headlines that discussed the problem and announced that the survey had been distributed.  This article can be found at:

http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2007_1st/Jan07_DaylightSaving.html

By Feb. 13, 2007 2 percent of vendors had responded, prompting the circulation of a second message to solicit additional replies.  At the point of this writing, 11 percent of vendors had responded to the survey. 

Summary

First, Hospitality Upgrade and BearingPoint would like to thank the vendors that responded to the survey.  The information provided should simplify the processes that will need to be followed in order to mitigate any potential issues caused by the DST change. 

Second, we would like to make a few general and practical recommendations, not specific to any system or property, which may assist customers to better address potential DST issues.  These recommendations are based on the information received from the vendors and from additional research that has been performed.

Operating System (OS) Patches – Reliance on current patch levels being maintained for the OS on workstations and servers appears to be the most common strategy of vendors who responded to the survey.  While this is a sound approach, it still necessitates some effort on the part of the end user community.  While most user workstations have “Auto Update” enabled (the term can vary by OS) it cannot be assumed that this is the case.  Many users turn off this feature to avoid automatic reboots that are sometimes required by updates.  As a result, every workstation in the enterprise should be checked to see that the “Auto Update” feature is enabled and that the machine is at the current patch version.  It is recommended that every property develop a process to ensure that every user workstation’s status is checked and documented.

Servers and application PCs (e.g. call accounting, interface PCs) are a more critical concern.  Many of these units have the “auto update” feature disabled deliberately in order to maintain a stable environment for support.  Often in complex environments, patches and updates can cause more harm than good if not tested in advance, to identify and address any anomalies.  Customers should not make any changes or apply any updates or patches without the explicit, documented, consent of the respective system vendor.  It is recommended that customers contact the support department for each of their systems and precisely follow the directions provided to address the DST issue.  Both the procedures provided and their subsequent implementation should be thoroughly documented by property personnel.

Key Activities March 11, 2007 – The single most critical impact of the DST change is the potential for wake-up calls to be mistimed due to one or more systems not processing the time change correctly.  It is recommended that someone on property physically verify, following the actual time change, that the correct time is being used by the PBX, voice mail, call accounting, PMS, or any other system that generates wake-up calls in the hotel.  A contingency plan to perform wake-up calls manually should be formulated to address the possibility that the time may not adjust appropriately.

Related DST Dates – It should not be forgotten that a similar, though less intense, effort must be planned for the dates later in the year that may also have DST impacts:

  • April 1, 2007 – This is the previously scheduled date for DST to take effect. Systems must be checked to ensure they do not automatically change the time again in error. 
  • October 28, 2007 – This is the previously scheduled date for DST to revert to standard time. The actual change is one week later in 2007.  Systems must be checked to ensure they do not automatically change the time a week too early.
  • Nov. 4, 2007 – This is the new date when DST reverts to standard time.  It will need to be verified that all systems adjust properly for the time change.
It is recommended that properties maintain a list of all of the systems that required manual intervention to accommodate the changes to and from DST.  In future years this list may prove valuable in identifying which systems need particular attention.

Guest Awareness – While the media is certain to cover the new DST time in the days immediately prior to March 11, 2007, it is unlikely that the full extent of the ramifications will be fully understood by the traveling population; some of whom will be your guests.  As an example, PDAs and mobile phones may require patches in order to recognize the time change properly.  It is recommended that a DST courtesy reminder note, commonly left in guestrooms the night of the change to DST, include a suggestion that the guest check on DST readiness for any personal, time sensitive, electronic devices.

The original article published in Hotel Online Headlines provided three suggested proactive steps hoteliers should take now. They are restated below.

  1. Begin to educate your staff about the new date. 
  2. If you haven’t done so already, inventory all of your systems for operating system versions, hardware and application versions.  This will be essential information in order to gather and apply the correct remediation process. 
  3. Check to see if your guestroom clock radios automatically adjust for DST (some have a switch).  If yes, contact the manufacturer for more information.
Closing

As previously stated, the new DST time should not cause any untoward concerns, but whatever steps the vendor and hotelier communities can take to minimize its impact on guests and staff alike should be taken. 

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Contact:

Sally Kelly
BearingPoint
sally.kelly@bearingpoint.com

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Also See: “I’m Sorry that You Missed Your Flight Sir” and Other Things You Don’t Want to Say on the Morning of March 11, 2007 / February 2007

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