Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

JulieHallRelease of new edition marks opening of annual AAA PetBook Photo Contest

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 21, 2015) – AAA has released a newly updated Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®. Now in its 17th edition, the guide features more than 15,000 AAA Approved hotels, restaurants and campgrounds that welcome travelers and their furry family members. Animal-loving travelers can now also enter this year’s AAA PetBook Photo Contest, sponsored by Best Western, for a chance to win prizes and see their pet on a cover of a future edition of the book.

“Vacationing with your pets can be a rewarding experience that offers memories to last a lifetime. The key to an enjoyable trip with pets is careful planning,” said Bill Wood, vice president and executive editor, AAA Travel Information & Content Publishing. “AAA is pleased to provide traveling pet owners with reliable information for planning vacations that include the whole family.”

Travelers who capture a photo of their pet on vacation can enter the AAA PetBook Photo Contest through November. Winning entries convey the joys of traveling safely with pets. Cover pets on the current edition are shown enjoying kayaking, a romp in the snow and a scenic hike. See inside The AAA PetBook for details, or access official rules, an entry form and the contest photo gallery at AAA.com/PetBook.

The AAA PetBook provides detailed planning information — including pet policies, amenities and fees — for more than 13,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and more than 800 top-rated campgrounds. Travelers can anticipate permitted pet sizes and other restrictions that may influence their choice of where to stay. The book also lists close to 1,000 AAA Diamond Rated restaurants that allow pets in outside dining areas.

Helpful tips for first-time and seasoned pet travelers include ideas on packing, pet etiquette and border crossing. Dog parks, national public lands that allow pets and emergency vet clinics are also listed.

The 17th edition of Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is available now at many AAA and CAA offices, bookstores and online booksellers, with a suggested retail price of $18.95.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC.

Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand with a global network of 4,000+* hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Best Western offers six hotel products to suit the needs of developers and guests in every market: BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS®, BEST WESTERN PREMIER®, BEST WESTERN PLUS EXECUTIVE RESIDENCYSM, VībSM and BW Premier Collection SM. Now celebrating 69 years of hospitality, Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales and marketing support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 22 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, Minor League Baseball, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. Best Western continues to set industry records and accolades, including Business Travel News naming BEST WESTERN and BEST WESTERN PLUS as the best mid-price and upper mid-price hotel chains, four consecutive Compuware Best of the Web gold awards for best hotel website and six consecutive AAA/CAA Hotel Partner of the Year awards. Best Western branded hotels worldwide won four times more TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence awards than industry average.

*Numbers are approximate and may fluctuate.

JulieHallStrong economy and low gas prices drive 4.7 percent increase in holiday travel over 2014

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 8, 2015) – AAA Travel projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 4.7 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year and the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years. Kicking off the summer driving season, 33 million travelers will be driving to their destinations. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 21 to Monday, May 25.

Highlights from 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast:

  • The 2015 Memorial Day forecast is expected to mark the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years, since 2005.
  • Most drivers will likely pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years. Today’s national average price of gas is $2.66, $1.00 less than the average price on Memorial Day last year.
  • The 4.7 percent increase over Memorial Day 2014 is the highest forecast growth rate for any of the holidays tracked by AAA since Independence Day 2012.
  • More than 88 percent of travelers (33 million) will travel by automobile, an increase of 5.3 percent over last Memorial Day.
  • Holiday air travel is expected to increase 2.5 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers.
  • Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, is expected to decrease 3.6 percent this Memorial Day, to 1.64 million.
  • Travelers will encounter higher lodging costs this year, while airfares are down slightly compared to Memorial Day 2014.

Additional Resources

“Following a harsh winter, many Americans are trading in their snow boots for flip flops and making plans to start the season with a vacation getaway,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President. “AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as confident consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America’s great cities.”

A number of economic factors are contributing to the large increase in holiday travelers this year. “A strong employment market and low gas prices have driven consumer optimism to new highs and boosted Americans’ disposable income. This is welcome news for the travel industry,” continued Doney.

Impact of gasoline prices

Travelers continue to benefit from substantially lower gas prices compared to recent years. Today’s national average price is $2.66, $1.00 less than the average price for Memorial Day 2014. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers will pay the cheapest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years.

Tips for drivers

More than 88 percent (33 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 5.3 percent increase from 2014. AAA expects to rescue nearly 350,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists inspect their vehicle and check battery and tire condition before heading out on a holiday getaway. Members can download the AAA mobile app (AAA.com/mobile), visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown.

Hotel rates increase, airfares fall slightly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is 16 percent higher this year at $144, while Three Diamond hotels will cost seven percent more, averaging $182. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are two percent cheaper this year, falling to $222.

Travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

JulieHallSun destinations are travelers’ top getaways following harsh winter

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 12, 2015) – As snow continues in many parts of the country, travelers are ready to escape to warmer weather and sunny destinations, according to AAA. Warm destinations offering fun-filled activities for families will experience the largest influx of travelers this spring season, followed by ever-popular vacation destinations Washington, D.C., New York City, Seattle and San Francisco.

 

AAA Travel’s top spring travel destinations, based on AAA.com hotel bookings, are:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Los Angeles, Calif. (Anaheim)
  3. San Diego, Calif.
  4. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  5. Miami, Fla.
  6. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. New York, N.Y.
  9. Seattle, Wash.
  10. San Francisco, Calif.

“It’s clear that travelers are seeking warm weather destinations this spring as they look to escape the cold after a particularly harsh winter,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Senior Vice President of Travel and Publishing. “In addition to great domestic destination getaways, cruises, tours and vacation packages to international destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean are also popular vacations this spring.”

Theme parks continue to be a popular vacation option, as evidenced by Orlando and Los Angeles holding top spots on this year’s list. Universal Orlando Resort is an increasingly popular destination with new attractions including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the new family-friendly Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

AAA Vacations, a collection of cruises, guided tours and independent vacations, offers unique, engaging travel experiences that range from exploring the Galapagos to touring America’s national parks, and are available at more than 1,000 AAA Travel offices. Each itinerary is designed with the AAA member in mind and includes built-in value along with exclusive member benefits such as 24/7 Member Care and Best Price Guarantee.

With all the options available to travelers today, vacation planning can be a daunting task. To maximize a spring break vacation, AAA recommends travelers seek the expert advice of a trusted travel advisor, who can provide personalized service and first-hand destination knowledge to create a memorable vacation experience. For more information and to begin planning a vacation, visit AAA.com/Travel.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

JulieHall17th Edition AAA PetBook to feature cover stars from California, Oregon and Connecticut

ORLANDO, Fla., (February 20, 2015) – Two lucky dogs from California and Oregon were selected as winners of the latest AAA PetBook® Photo Contest sponsored by Best Western, a AAA Preferred Hotel Partner. The winners will appear on the back cover and spine of the 17th edition of Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook, available this May.

The first-place winner, a Maltese dog from California named Casey, is pictured kayaking down the Mokelumne River in Lodi, Calif. “We travel with Casey because he is family and leaving him at home isn’t fun for him or us,” said owner Ruth Clark, who also enjoys camping, biking and going to farmers’ markets with her dog.

The second-place winner, a Pembroke Welsh corgi named Murphy, from Oregon, is shown on an outing near Trillium Lake in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest. Murphy’s owner, Tracey Vukovich, enjoys the priceless sparkle outdoor activities put in her dogs’ eyes. “They are truly members of our family. We enjoy ourselves more when they are included and it’s a delight to see their joy!” said Vukovich.

As a special addition to the first- and second-place winners, an exceptional photo held over from last year’s contest will be featured on the front cover of the 17th edition AAA PetBook. Lyric, a travel-loving Australian shepherd from Connecticut, is shown on a scenic trail teeming with stone formations during a walk at Camp Gone to the Dogs in Stowe, Vermont. “After a busy year of canine musical freestyle performances, our annual getaway to hang out and bond is a special treat,” said owner Carrie Nerie.

In addition to cover fame, the winners and editor’s pick receive pet treats, copies of The AAA PetBook and cash. The back and front cover dogs also receive a Best Western Travel Card that can be used at 4,000 hotels worldwide, including more than 1,600 pet-friendly properties.

Another 44 pets, selected as contest runners up, are pictured inside the book. This year’s collection includes two cats, a bird and a variety of dogs in destinations across the continent, from Glacier National Park to Lake Superior to Nova Scotia’s rocky coast. For additional bragging rights, the AAA.com/PetBook photo gallery touts the winners, editor’s pick and the runners up.

Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is a valuable resource for those who enjoy bringing their pets along on vacations. Nearly 15,000 pet-friendly listings throughout the U.S. and Canada include thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels, hundreds of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants that allow pets in outside dining areas and more than 800 campgrounds.

The detailed hotel listings include fees, permitted pet sizes and conditions of stay for properties at every Diamond Rating level, from clean and simple motels to family-oriented properties to luxurious resorts. The book also includes information about pet-friendly activities, planning tips, travel etiquette and safety.

Visit AAA.com/PetBook for contest rules, entry forms, a photo gallery and valuable pet travel tips. The next photo contest opens in May when the 17th edition Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook, cover price $18.95 U.S., hits the shelves at participating AAA and CAA offices and book sellers.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About Best Western International, Inc.

Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand with a global network of 4,000+* hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Best Western offers six hotel products to suit the needs of developers and guests in every market: BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS®, BEST WESTERN PREMIER®, BEST WESTERN PLUS EXECUTIVE RESIDENCYSM, Vībsm and BW Premier Collection sm. Now celebrating 69 years of hospitality, Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales and marketing support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 22 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, Minor League Baseball, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. Best Western continues to set industry records and accolades, including Business Travel News top chain award for both BEST WESTERN and BEST WESTERN PLUS, three consecutive Compuware Best of the Web gold awards and six consecutive AAA/CAA Hotel Partner of the Year awards. Forty percent of Best Western-branded hotels worldwide won TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence awards for customer satisfaction.

*Numbers are approximate and may fluctuate.

JulieHallUltra-luxury establishments redefine personalized service with new technology and custom experiences

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 16, 2015) – AAA has unveiled 121 hotels and 63 restaurants that have earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2015 Five Diamond Award lists. This exclusive group represents just 0.3 percent of the more than 58,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants.

Additional Resources

AAA inspectors collectively visit approximately 1,200 hotels and restaurants each week, allowing them to identify emerging trends in the industry. “At the ultra-luxury level we’re seeing an increasing number of hotels offering guests the choice of high-end service by white glove or touch screen — in person or electronically,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “They’re complementing personal delivery with technology options such as in-room iPads and TV menus for ordering and scheduling services, apps for accessing newspapers and local reservations, mobile check-in and text alerts when their room is ready. Some Five Diamond hotels even place a TV within the bathroom mirror to complete guests’ high-tech stay.”

Of note among the new additions to the 2015 list is the Orlando area’s only Five Diamond hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, marked by numerous upscale service options. Each room is equipped with an iPad that serves as the radio, resort map, event guide and newspaper, as well as a Bose Bluetooth speaker system and high-tech keypads that control lighting, air temperature and even guests’ request for privacy. For additional custom luxury, guests can create their own fragrance at the spa’s Aroma Design Bar. At the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, the guest room drapes, bedside lighting and air-conditioning system are all electronically controlled by the guest. In-room iPads are available to order room service, call housekeeping or contact the 24-hour concierge.

The best high-end restaurants are fast becoming international destinations by providing a unique dining experience in which the selection and enjoyment of exceptional food is also an educational event. Typically, Five Diamond restaurants are ahead of trends in farm-to-table and super-local food sourcing.  Directed by artistic whims, the chef creates solid, lifelong relationships with farmers, purveyors and producers who can deliver the finest ingredients, whether it’s coffee, olive oil or artisan cheeses.

At the Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., for example, AAA’s longest tenured Five Diamond restaurant, Chef Patrick O’Connell uses as many local ingredients and foods as possible, along with bounty from his own garden, applying masterful techniques to create captivating results. At Eleven Madison Park in New York City, diners are invited to build their dinner around specific ingredients instead of predetermined recipes. But it’s the service experience that shines brightest as guests are pampered in a manner that is intimate yet relaxed. With personalized service or surprising insight, each staff member adds a special touch to the guest’s dining experience, creating a powerful, memorable event.

New Five Diamond Hotels (8):

Four Seasons Hotel Denver – Denver, Colo.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort – Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Grand Luxxe – Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
One&Only Palmilla – San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico
Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa – Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Shangri-La Hotel – Toronto, Ontario
The Langham, Chicago – Chicago, Ill.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

New Five Diamond Restaurants (6):

Le Chique – Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio
Palme d’Or – Coral Gables, Fla.
Passion by Martin Berasategui – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Saison – San Francisco, Calif.
Twist – Las Vegas, Nev.

“Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment and a point of great pride for these top hotels and restaurants,” said Petrone. “Five Diamond establishments stand apart by redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and providing memorable experiences.” Candidates for the rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Inspectors meticulously evaluate guest services and physical attributes, closely examining the level of competence, refinement and hospitality, from reservations to checkout for hotels and from seating to presentation for restaurants.

For more information about Diamond Ratings and the complete Five Diamond hotel and restaurant lists, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

About AAA Inspections

For 79 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA trip planning products: the AAA Mobile® app for tablets and smartphones, the desktop and mobile versions of the TripTik® Travel Planner  online mapping and routing tool, searchable Travel Guides on AAA.com and AAA TourBook® guides available to members at AAA/CAA offices.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

Images provided for media download and use with the above release.
Additional photos available upon request.

 

Hotel Images

Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa – Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

 

Four Seasons Hotel Denver – Denver, Colo.

 

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort – Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

 

The Langham, Chicago – Chicago, Ill.

 

Shangri-La Hotel – Toronto, Ontario

 

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

 

One&Only Palmilla – San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico

 

Grand Luxxe – Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

 

Restaurant Images

Saison – San Francisco, Calif.

 

Palme d’Or – Coral Gables, Fla.

 

Twist – Las Vegas, Nev.

 

Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio

 

Passion by Martin Berasategui – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

 

Le Chique – Puerto Morelos, Mexico

JulieHall

Busy year-end holidays will be marked by more travelers than ever on record

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 16, 2014) – AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the highest forecast growth rate for the year-end holiday season since 2009 and the highest travel volume for the holiday period on record. (AAA data dates back to 2001.) The year-end holiday period is defined as Tuesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 4.

Highlights from 2014/2015 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast:

  • Holiday travel is expected to total 98.6 million, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million who traveled last year.
  • Travel volume for the year-end holidays will reach the highest peak recorded by AAA (since 2001).
  • Nearly 91 percent of all travelers (89.5 million) will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2013.
  • Air travel is forecast to grow one percent from 2013, with 5.7 million travelers taking to the skies.
  • Low gas prices continue to help boost disposable income this holiday season, with today’s national average price of gas at $2.53 per gallon, 70 cents less than a year ago.

Additional Resources

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will join with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President and Chief Operating Officer. “While the economy continues to improve at an uneven pace, it seems more Americans are looking forward with increasing consumer confidence, rather than looking back at the recession. This is helping to drive expected travel volumes to the highest level we have seen for the year-end holidays.”

“Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009,” continued Doney. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year.”

The calendar is having a positive effect on the number of travelers expected this year. This year the holidays land on a Thursday, creating a holiday travel season that is one day longer than last year’s and the longest since 2008, offering travelers more options for departures and return trips. This flexibility makes it possible for more people to fit holiday travel into their schedules.

With more than 90 percent of holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA urges everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving. According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in eight of all licensed drivers who drink at least occasionally reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.

The survey also reveals 91 percent of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable, with 42 percent reporting that drunk drivers are a bigger problem today versus three years ago.  “Despite the ubiquitous warnings about drinking and driving, especially during the holiday season, an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death occurs every 45 minutes,” said Doney.

AAA works year-round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and injuries.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

Today’s national average price of gasoline is at the lowest level in five years and 70 cents lower than last year, a welcome gift for holiday travelers. Gas prices have fallen for 82 days in a row, helping to increase Americans’ disposable income 3.5 percent from year-ago levels, which has had a positive effect on travel.

Hotel, car rental rates rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $138 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen five percent with an average cost of $108 per night. Daily car rental rates will average $66, four percent higher than last year.

Airfares fall seven percent this year, driven by low-cost carriers

Average discounted round-trip airfares across 40 top domestic routes are expected to fall seven percent this year, to $186. This is influenced by the availability of discounted rates from low-cost carriers in several top markets. AAA encourages travelers to consider the full cost of a ticket when purchasing air travel, as many airlines charge ancillary fees for checked bags, meals, priority boarding and seat assignments.

AAA expects to rescue 1.1 million motorists this holiday season

Between December 23 and January 4, AAA expects to come to the rescue of more than 1.1 million motorists with the primary reasons for breakdowns being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check battery and tire condition and prepare vehicles for winter driving before heading out on a holiday getaway. Car care tips and information are available at AAA.com.

AAA offers travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2014 Year-End Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

 

JulieHallImproving Economy Brings 1.9 Million More Travelers, Consumers Pay Lowest Thanksgiving Gas Prices in Five Years

Additional Resources

ORLANDO, Fla., (November 20, 2014) – AAA Travel projects 46.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2007 and a 4.2 percent increase over 2013. Almost 90 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will celebrate the holiday with a road trip and likely will enjoy the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 26 through Sunday, November 30.

Highlights from 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast:

  • Thanksgiving holiday travel volume is expected to reach the highest level since 2007, with 46.3 million Americans taking a trip.
  • The 2014 forecast is 4.2 percent higher than the 44.4 million Americans who traveled last year and the greatest growth rate for any holiday since Independence Day 2012.
  • Road trippers likely will pay the lowest Thanksgiving price for fuel in five years. Today’s national average price of gas is $2.85 per gallon, which is 43 cents lower than the average price for Thanksgiving a year ago ($3.28 per gallon).
  • More than 89 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will travel by automobile, a 4.3 percent increase from 39.6 million last year.
  • Air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to be at the highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies.
  • Travelers will encounter moderately higher prices with airfares one percent higher, mid-range hotels up eight percent and car rentals costing 10 percent more.
  • The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend.

“This year, more Americans will give thanks for the opportunity to travel to friends and family than any year since 2007,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President and Chief Operating Officer. “Americans are more optimistic about the future as improvements in several key economic factors, including employment, GDP and disposable income, are boosting consumer confidence and the desire to travel.”

“Holiday joy has come early this year with Americans likely to pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2009. Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving,” continued Doney.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

The national price of gasoline has fallen below $3.00 per gallon for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers likely will pay the cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. More than 89 percent (41.3 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 4.3 percent increase from 2013.

Travel expenses rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase eight percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $142 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $114 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $55, 10 percent higher than last year. Airfares will only increase one percent, with an average discounted round-trip rate of $189 across 40 top domestic routes.

Most of travelers’ budgets go toward transportation, food and shopping

Travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the course of their holiday travels. Despite lower average gas prices, travelers are allocating 31 percent of their budgets to fuel transportation. Food and beverage and shopping will account for 22 percent and 20 percent of holiday travel budgets, respectively.

Travelers’ spending plans mirror their intended activities this Thanksgiving, with 70 percent of travelers reporting they will enjoy dining during their vacation and 59 percent will go shopping. Eighty-nine percent of travelers plan to spend time with friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA offers travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

JulieHallSurvey shows Americans appreciate the knowledge, expertise and value travel agents offer

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 23, 2014) – According to a recent survey by AAA, a majority of Americans see value in using a travel agent. Eighty-five percent of Americans find travel agents provide cost-effective, trouble-free, personalized vacation planning.

“Travelers see great value in working with an agent,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “They enjoy working with travel agents, who can save them time, money and the frustration of navigating the many complex travel offerings that are available today.”

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The most frequent benefits travelers cited when using the services of an agent were:

Travel agents are a knowledgeable resource, providing a great vacation experience

Planning a vacation that is fun for all can be daunting. An experienced and knowledgeable travel agent can provide recommendations to clients based on their interests and expectations, whether that’s a family-friendly vacation, a stay at an all-inclusive resort, a memorable honeymoon, or a first-time cruise. Travelers who work with the same agent repeatedly also enjoy a familiarity that makes it even easier to select a destination or cruise to match their travel tastes.

Travel agents know the best deals, saving their clients money

Travel agents work with cruise lines, hotels and tour operators every day and often have access to special rates and added benefits that are not available elsewhere. They can provide clients information on values and savings during certain times of the year—for example when a cruise line is offering extra incentives to sail to a destination, special offers for residents or military personnel, or special promotions for kids to travel, eat or stay free.

Travel agents make reservations and bookings, saving time

Selecting the right destination, hotel, cruise line or theme park is a time-consuming task. A qualified travel agent can take care of all the arrangements and stay on top of every detail, saving travelers time to focus on other priorities.

Travel agents can help if something goes wrong, providing peace of mind

Perhaps one of the greatest values in working with a travel agent is the peace of mind they offer when something goes wrong on a vacation. If flights are suddenly cancelled, a hotel doesn’t meet travelers’ standards, or a hurricane hits a key tourist destination, travelers who booked their trip through a travel agent can make a call to their agent, who can make alternate arrangements immediately.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterSmiles, safety and scenery mark top contenders for publication cover fame

ORLANDO, Fla., (Aug. 26, 2014) Are you one of the many Americans who take your pets on vacation?  Whether your favorite fur ball prefers hiking, boating or some other pursuit, capture the fun and enter your best shot by November 30 for a chance to show off your pet in a big way.

For the seventh consecutive year, the AAA PetBook Photo Contest is sponsored by Best Western, which has more than 1,600 pet-friendly hotels worldwide. Photos are judged on the ability to convey the joys of traveling safely with pets, along with artistic qualities. “Pets who are naturally happy when on-the-go can make excellent photo subjects at scenic destinations,” said PetBook Product Manager Sara Demko. “The challenge is to combine all of the contest attributes — joy, safety and travel — in one clear, well-lit image.”

“When snapping photos or choosing one to enter, contest participants can improve their results by running through a quick checklist,” added Demko. “First, be sure to photograph pets from the front to show their facial features and emotions. Ensure they’re wearing appropriate harnesses or safety vests for the situation. Picture them in a vacation setting, and look for an angle that separates your pet’s coloring from the background. And make sure the lighting and resolution are strong enough to show details.” Tips, contest rules and entry forms are provided at AAA.com/PetBook, along with plenty of examples in the contest photo gallery.

First- and second-place contest winners grace the back cover and spine of Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®, and more than 40 finalists are pictured inside the book. Winner and finalist photos are also showcased on the AAA.com/PetBook photo gallery — a virtual brag book for proud pet parents. Additional prizes include cash, pet treats, copies of the book and, for the first-place winner, a $150 Best Western Travel Card.

For everyone who travels with pets throughout the U.S. and Canada, The AAA PetBook is a must-have resource. The annually updated guide provides detailed listings — including pet policies, amenities and fees —for more than 13,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels, plus more than 800 pet-friendly campgrounds. Listings also include nearly 700 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants that welcome pets in outside dining areas. For recreation planning, the book lists national public lands and attractions that allow pets and 300 dog parks in popular travel destinations. Tips for first-time and seasoned pet travelers address packing suggestions, pet etiquette, border crossing and emergency vet clinics.

Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is available at many AAA and CAA offices at discounted member prices and select bookstores with a cover price of $18.95. The current edition is also available in digital formats for popular tablets and e-readers through online booksellers at a suggested digital price of $9.99.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About Best Western International, Inc.

Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand made up of more than 4,000* BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Now celebrating 68 years of hospitality, Best Western welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests nightly. Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales, marketing and promotional support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 20 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, Minor League Baseball, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. In 2013, Best Western earned our highest level of brand recognition, including our fifth AAA/CAA Hotel Partner of the Year award, second Compuware Best of the Web Gold award, fourth No. 1 ranking in Brand Keys Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index for midscale hotels and seventh TTG Asia Best Mid-range Hotel Brand. Forty-one percent of Best Western hotels worldwide won TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence for customer satisfaction.

For more information or to make a reservation, please visit bestwestern.com.

Heather HunterLabor market improvements and positive consumer expectations drive 1.3 percent increase in holiday travelers

ORLANDO, Fla., (August 21, 2014) – AAA Travel projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a 1.3 percent increase over 2013. Nearly 86 percent of travelers (29.7 million) will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip before summer comes to a close and children head back to school. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 28 to Monday, September 1.

Highlights from 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Historically, when Labor Day weekend begins in August, Americans have shown a higher tendency to travel.
  • Consumer spending has surpassed income growth, indicating that Americans are willing to take on debt to finance a vacation.
  • Automobile travel will increase by 1.4 percent this year, with 29.7 million travelers hitting the road.
  • Nearly eight percent of travelers (2.65 million) will travel by air, a one percent increase from last year.
  • Travelers will encounter airfares just two percent higher than last year and daily car rental costs that remain consistent at $51.
  • Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are nine percent higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are six percent more.

Additional Resources

“As the economy makes modest gains, more Americans are joining the labor force this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “With Labor Day symbolizing the American workers’ contributions to the strength and prosperity of our country, it’s only fitting that millions are choosing to celebrate this positive direction with an all-American road trip.”

Consumer spending is continuing to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. In the third quarter of this year spending is expected to increase 3.8 percent year-over-year, while disposable personal income is only expected to increase 1.4 percent. Reliance on credit cards, rather than increasing income, is fueling holiday travel spending this year. While economic growth is slow, consumers are feeling more comfortable taking on debt.

“This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation,” continued Doney.  “Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year.”

Travelers likely to pay lower gas prices for Labor Day

Most U.S. consumers are paying the lowest gas prices for early August since 2010. AAA expects gas prices to have little impact on the number of people traveling for Labor Day, though lower prices could help make travel more affordable.  Barring a major development, such as a Gulf Coast hurricane, prices are likely to remain relatively low leading up to the holiday weekend compared to recent years, which will allow travelers to allocate more of their budgets towards travel expenses. The current price of gas is $3.44 compared to $3.59 on Labor Day last year. AAA provides the latest gas prices for the nation, states and metro areas at FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com.

Airfare and hotel costs rise, car rental fees flat

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase six percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $171 per night compared to $161 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $125 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $51, the same as last year. Airfares have risen two percent with the average round-trip, discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $219, up from $214 last year.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including cities, like the award-winning Las Vegas title, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android offers GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for 10 popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. More information including an infographic for the AAA / IHS Global Insight 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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