Hoteliers Gird For Y2K With Contingency Plans; Minor Disruptions Expected

NEW YORK? Unlike millions of others, Jane Weeks won?t be celebrating on the evening of Dec. 31, 1999. Perhaps the following night she can relax, provided Bass Hotels & Resorts? Y2K compliance efforts goes off flawlessly. As vp/international information technology, Weeks is in charge of Bass? Y2K compliance. She will be among the hundreds of other IT executives in the lodging business who will be holding their collective breaths this New Year?s Eve. Hotels are on guard because a high percentage of their properties will be filled to capacity, or near-capacity, that weekend. And large-scale disruptions could create havoc. Like many, Weeks does not foresee major disruptions. ?In the U.S. it probably will be nothing more than a speed bump,? she said. Weeks is confident that Bass? 2,500 properties in 97 countries will perform without a hitch when 2000 arrives. She will be at a data center on the evening of Dec. 31 to monitor the situation. The first Bass property that will be affected will be in Sydney, Australia. In the event of problems, hotels have contingency plans in place, just in case. Much like reacting to a natural disaster, hotels have crafted plans to deal with possible disruptions. Marriott Corp., which is investing nearly $35 million in Y2K costs, has a plan to determine the ?risk factor? and degree of preparedness of a property at any time. Rob Bahl, western region area engineering manager, and Nicole Genier, western region area Y2K coordinator, said Marriott?s first objective was to open communication lines with its utilities and suppliers and evaluate its Y2K readiness. Marriott?s Y2K preparedness checklist includes the following: ? Be prepared to evacuate if local officials deem that prudent or outage duration mandates it. ? Be proactive and an advocate of your local police and fire departments and community as they gear up for Y2K. ? Back up all computer systems a full week before Dec. 31. ? Fill up the gas tanks of all company vehicles before Dec. 31. ? Choose a decision-making authority to be on hand the evening of Dec. 31. ? Establish a plan to prevent freeze-up of piping and all other systems if normal systems fail. The Caribbean Hotel Association has distributed its ?Y2K Info? bulletin (published by the International Hotel & Restaurant Association) to its membership to create awareness among Caribbean hoteliers of the potential Year 2000 problem. The bulletin, which is offered to CHA members in English, Spanish and French, was written in an eight-part series and is circulated either by fax or e-mail. ?Tourism is the lifeline of the Caribbean, and we cannot afford to suffer losses that may occur if we are not completely Y2K compliant,? said John Bell, director general and CEO of CHA, which oversees 35 Caribbean membership associations. The Y2K Info bulletin contains step-by-step guidelines on how to achieve compliance. The objectives of the bulletin are to create awareness of the problem; provide background information on the Year 2000 issue; offer guidelines on possible solutions; and exchange information among partners. ?I think the Y2K problem is a very real problem but I believe it has been hyped a little bit out of proportion,? Bell said. ?Having said that, anyone in the hotel business who hasn?t paid attention to it will be caught with their trousers down. But if you?ve paid attention to it, it shouldn?t be a major problem.? Bell said occupancy rates among the member CHA associations is at capacity. ?On paper everyone is booked solid, I would be surprised if there is an empty room in the Caribbean for that weekend,? he said. ?Whether there is enough airlift to get people to the region is another story.? Analyst Robert Bennett, the practice leader for information and technology for PricewaterhouseCoopers? Leisure Group, said the chains and larger management companies are in good shape because they?ve paid attention to this issue. ?Independents may run into some risk, they may have some glitches or inc

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