When Disaster Crashes Your Reservation Database

Jim Luff
Posted on July 20, 2016

When I first got into the ground transportation industry in the early 90s, reservations were done by hand. We would write all the information down on a reservation sheet. We would photocopy the sheet and give the chauffeur his copy and file the original away.

By the mid 90s, we had gone to a four-part carbonless reservation sheet so we could give the client a receipt and use various other copies for things like payroll and accounting. This DOS based system printed out the form with a dot matrix printer. The program was custom made for us.

In January 2007, we made the leap to FASTTRAK and installed it on Jan. 1. I was so nervous about losing data that we used both the new system and the old DOS system beginning in December 2006. I feared we would lose a reservation or the system would lock up or who knows what might happen. By the middle of January, I let go of the old DOS system. I was so nervous about FASTTRAK I would print out a report each night at 5 p.m. for the next two days with all the runs and basic information.

Finally, it happened. Or, so I thought. My data was all gone! I was in full crisis mode. A power outage had occurred and I believed I lost everything. I called Brian at FASTTRAK in a panic. Three minutes later, we were back up and running. No harm, no foul. I still felt vulnerable though. What if I had a fire? A flood? What if someone broke in and stole the server? I thought maybe one of these offsite software companies would be safer. Even FASTTRAK Cloud might be better. I had read about an offsite company that said it had multiple servers in multiple cities and the built-in back-up systems were redundant.

Last week, many operators learned that was not exactly the case. Operators were locked out of their systems due to a massive system failure. From social media posts I read, it went on for the better part of a day. I can’t even imagine the disruption this might have caused. I can only assume chauffeurs are given their assignments a day in advance so they had some idea of what they were to do that day. It was impossible to take any new reservations. I would pull my hair out (if I had any) with the frustration of not having access to my own data, wondering when I would have access to my data again and in a worst case scenario wondering if I would ever see it again.

Data loss is just one disaster that operators face. Power outages and telephone outages are two others I experienced several times in my 25-year career. They caused enough grief for me to make us invest in a small generator to keep one computer and the phone system up and running. I also subscribed to “remote call forwarding” for $3 per month. If the phone system failed or a contractor working in the neighborhood cut a line (I had both happen over the years), I could just switch where the incoming calls were directed in about 30-seconds.

As for what to do about data loss or lock-out when a third-party holds the entire plate, I am not sure a solution exists. Anyone have a solution? Care to share how you handled the event? I'll be reporting more on this topic in the September issue of LCT Magazine.

Related Topics: computer software, disasters, emergency preparedness, FASTTRAK, Jim Luff, reservation management software, reservations, Shop Talk blog

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Jim Luff

     | about 4 years ago

    For clarification purposes, FASTTRAK was the software system I used as an operator and my only personal experience using a reservation software. FASTTRAK was not the company which recently experienced a massive failure.

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