Posts Tagged ‘AAA member’

Heather Hunter

An up and down economy, fee fatigue, higher fares and travel frustration top causes for the decline

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 22, 2013) – AAA Travel projects 34.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 0.9 percent decrease from the 35.1 million people who traveled last year.  The anticipated decline in holiday travel is predominately due to a decline in air travel of eight percent, fee fatigue among travelers and a waffling economy. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.

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“AAA is forecasting Memorial Day travel  to be slightly lower this year due to an to an up and down economy, the impact of the end of the payroll tax holiday on working families and a 30-year low in the percentage of working age people in the workforce,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “Additionally, economic growth in the first quarter was strong, but the impact of the sequester is now beginning to be felt resulting in reduced economic growth expectations.  These and other variables are expected to result in few travelers this holiday. ”

Highlights from 2013 Memorial Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Memorial Day holiday travelers to total 34.8 million, a decrease of 0.9 percent from the 35.1 million who traveled last year
  • Eighty-nine percent of travelers (31.2 million) to travel by automobile, an increase from 31.1 million last year
  • Holiday air travel expected to decrease eight percent to 2.3 million from 2.5 million in 2012
  • Memorial Day holiday travel volume is expected to remain above the 12-year historical average of 34.7 million
  • Median spending is expected to decrease more than six percent to $659, compared to $702 in 2012 with transportation costs consuming about 28 cents of every travel dollar.
  • Travelers intend to journey an average of 690 miles which is higher than last year’s average of 642 miles

“The primary driver of the decline in holiday travelers is an eight percent decrease in the number of people expected to take to the skies this holiday,” Darbelnet said. “American travelers are experiencing fee fatigue and frustration with everything from higher fares to airport security.  As a result, many are choosing road travel in higher numbers due to the lower cost and convenience it offers. ”

Automobile Travel Only Mode of Transportation to Expect Increase

Approximately 31.2 million people plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 0.25 percent from the 31.1 million who drove last year.  Almost nine out of ten holiday travelers (89 percent) will take to the nation’s roadways during the Memorial Day weekend, keeping automobile travel in the traditional lead as the dominant mode of holiday travel transportation.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

A survey of intended travelers found that gasoline prices would have no impact on plans for 62 percent of travelers. Of the remaining 38 percent of travelers who said gas prices would impact their travel plans, 27 percent plan to economize in other areas.  Eight percent are planning to take a shorter trip and three percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation.

Since national gas prices peaked at the end of February, motorists nationwide have felt welcome relief at the pump. However, current gas prices are in line with this time last year and not expected to have an effect on travel plans.

Air Travelers to decline by eight percent

More than 2.3 million leisure air travelers (more than seven percent of holiday travelers) will arrive at their destination by air, an eight percent decrease from last year’s 2.5 million air travelers.  The remaining four percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be 690 miles, which is 48 miles more than last year’s average of 642 miles. Generally a greater distance traveled also means there will be an increase in air travel, but this year is the exception as air travel is expected to decrease eight percent. It appears auto travelers will be taking longer road trips as travelers expect fuel to consume a larger share of their travel budget. Last year the shortest trips, those of less than 150 miles, made up 21 percent of total travel, this year the shortest trips make up only 13 percent of the total. Those travelers who will take to the skies have shifted towards longer-haul flights.

Median spending is expected to decrease as travelers prioritize family and friends

Median spending during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be $659, six percent less than the $702 median spending last year. Transportation is expected to consume approximately 28 cents of every dollar. Travelers expect to spend 22 percent on food and beverage and 20 percent on lodging.

During the holiday weekend, more than half of intending travelers will plan to partake in visiting with friends/family (59 percent) and dining (55 percent). Other popular activities include shopping (44 percent), going to the beach (32 percent) and touring and sightseeing (27 percent).

Car rental rates highest in four years, hotel rates rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase over four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $166 per night compared to $160 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels remained unchanged with an average cost of $120 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $43, 19 percent more than last year and the highest rate recorded for the holiday since 2009.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

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

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, Android and iPad uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel,  and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web 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. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Memorial Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

 

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 21, 2013) – As everyone makes plans to head  to the beach or attend celebrations around the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, AAA strongly encourages to arrange a safe ride home before they partake in any festivities.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and the injuries that can result.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.  Once there, AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.

While not a nationwide program, a number of AAA clubs offer Tow-to-Go or Tipsy Tow service on select dates for members and nonmembers. This service is not available everywhere. AAA strongly encourages family and friends to pick a designated driver before they head out for any Memorial Day celebrations.

*Please note availability is subject to change without notice

The following AAA Clubs offer Tipsy Tow/ Tow to Go programs for Memorial Day Holiday Weekend:

  • The Auto Club Group (Statewide in Florida and Georgia and Tennessee. Program is called “Tow-to-Go”)
  • AAA Arizona (statewide)
  • AAA New Jersey Automobile Club (Morris, Essex and Union counties)
  • AAA Northwest Ohio ( available in Lucas, Fulton, Wood, Henry, Williams, Defiance, Paulding and Ottawa counties)
  • AAA South Dakota (Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Mitchell and Yankton)
  • AAA Oklahoma ( Metro Tulsa, Metro Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Bartlesville, Enid, Muskogee, Ardmore, Tahlequah and Lawton )

For a comprehensive list of other community programs listed state by state, please visit AAA’s DUI Justice Link Website

A total of 125 luxurious hotels and 53 world-class restaurants across North America begin the new year with the travel authority’s highest property rating

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 18, 2013) – AAA announced today the 178 select establishments that earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2013 Five Diamond Award® list. Representing just 0.3 percent of the total 59,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, this exclusive group provides unique experiences chock full of leading-edge creativity and highly personalized hospitality to satisfy even the most savvy traveler.

Of note among the 13 new additions are the only AAA Five Diamond hotels in Puerto Rico and Nevis. New York and Florida each added three new Five Diamond establishments: New York added one hotel and two restaurants, while Florida added two hotels and one restaurant. Florida’s additions include the only new Five Diamond pair: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its on-site restaurant, Salt.

 

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New Five Diamond Hotels (9):

Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Calif.

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Bal Harbour, Fla.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Trump SoHo New York, New York, N.Y.

Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Ritz-Carlton Montréal, Québec, Canada

Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies, Charlestown, Nevis

St. Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

Capella Pedregal Resort and Spa, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

 

New Five Diamond Restaurants (4):

Benu, San Francisco, Calif.

Salt (in The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island), Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Eleven Madison Park, New York, N.Y.

Le Bernardin, New York, N.Y.

 

“AAA Five Diamond hotels offer guests a meticulous degree of personalized attention and extensive amenities in a luxurious setting, and Five Diamond restaurants feature world-class service and imaginative menus using the finest ingredients,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development.  “These establishments consistently exceed the expectations of the most discriminating traveler – the AAA inspector — and AAA is pleased to recognize them with a Five Diamond Rating.”

Collectively visiting some 1,200 hotels and restaurants every week, AAA inspectors are in a unique position to identify emerging trends in the hospitality industry. Inspectors have observed hotels and restaurants using increasingly personalized approaches to enhance guest comfort and satisfaction. “The definition of Five Diamond luxury continues to evolve as guests seek unique experiences with intrinsic value,” said Petrone.

Experienced, highly qualified staff are required to provide the custom service today’s luxury hotel guest expects. Larger hotels, faced with the difficulties of responding to individual needs, often restructure their approach. Many use the immediacy of social media to augment the experience as luxury travelers research, purchase, engage in and reflect on their stay. Imagine tweeting your desire for a rare vintage wine and having it arrive moments later at your guestroom door.

Restaurants employ an artisanal touch to provide an individualized culinary experience in a non-obtrusive manner. Menu offerings, once complex and highly orchestrated, are now often simple concepts meticulously executed. Meals and beverages are handcrafted using seasonal, organic ingredients from local sources. Distilled or flavored ice may be one of several original effects added to an already enchanting homemade cocktail mix.

The path to a Five Diamond Rating is rigorous. Properties identified by AAA as potential candidates for the Five Diamond Rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations by a AAA inspector and final decision by a panel of experts. In addition to the evaluation of physical attributes, potential Five Diamond establishments are subject to thorough onsite assessments of all guest services from the initial reservation through checkout for hotels and from seating to  presentation for restaurants. Each area is evaluated based on level of competence, refinement and hospitality.

 

Noteworthy for 2013:

  • The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the only hotel that has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 37 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.
  • The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., has the longest Five Diamond restaurant tenure, 25 consecutive years, since 1988.
  • With two restaurant additions, Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin, New York now ties with California for the most AAA Five Diamond Restaurants: seven in each state.
  • The only new AAA Five Diamond hotel and restaurant pair is The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its on-site restaurant Salt, in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
  • The number of Five Diamond hotels in Canada doubled to four with the addition of the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver and The Ritz-Carlton Montréal. The country is also home to five Five Diamond Restaurants, representing nearly 10 percent of the total.

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

 

About AAA Inspections

AAA is the only rating system that conducts on-site professional evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with more properties than any other rating entity, AAA is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. For 77 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections and publish the results, on a system of One to Five Diamonds, to guide member travel decisions.

Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants are listed in AAA trip planning products: the eTourBook® guides and AAA Mobile® app for tablets and smartphones, the TripTik® Travel Planner and Travel Guides on AAA.com, and AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA/CAA offices. Travelers can learn about AAA inspections and Diamond Ratings at AAA.com/Diamonds.

 

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Hi Res
Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Calif.
Hi Res
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Fla.
Hi Res
Trump SoHo New York, New York, N.Y.
Hi Res
Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Hi Res
The Ritz-Carlton Montréal, Québec, Canada
Hi Res
Capella Pedregal Resort and Spa, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Hi Res
Benu, San Francisco, Calif.
Hi Res
Salt (in The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island), Fernandina Beach, Fla.
Hi Res
Eleven Madison Park, New York, N.Y.
Hi Res
Le Bernardin, New York, N.Y.

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Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies, Charlestown, Nevis
Hi Res

Evolving travel and hotel trends spur revisions to Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines used by AAA hotel inspectors

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 31, 2012) – The voice of the consumer just got louder during the only comprehensive North American hotel inspections and ratings performed by experts.

AAA has updated its Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines for lodgings, the blueprint for assigning ratings of One to Five AAA Diamonds following successful on-site inspections at more than 30,000 hotels throughout North America. The new guidelines incorporate member expectations regarding hotel fees, recognize emerging shifts in design trends and reflect a more personalized approach to enhancing guest comfort and satisfaction.

“Traveler expectations and travel industry capabilities continue to evolve,” said Michael Petrone, director AAA Tourism Information Development. The new guidelines address changes that have occurred since the last update in 2007. With input from AAA’s full-time hotel inspectors, AAA members and industry professionals, the updated guidelines reflect current AAA member expectations and travel trends.

AAA Diamonds: Expert Ratings Guided by Member Priorities

“The biggest changes reflected in this update were prompted by AAA member feedback,” said Petrone. “In a time when travelers are challenged to manage costs amid changing gasoline prices and airline add-ons, members are fed up with hidden hotel costs. For example, charges are sometimes assessed for an in-room safe, on-site fitness center or pool — whether the guest uses them or not. Members want all-inclusive, published room rates with no surprises at checkout.

“Additionally, today’s family often travels with four or five electronic devices and can face dramatic increases in accommodation costs when properties charge daily Wi-Fi usage fees. The growing expectation is for in-room Internet access that is both high-speed and free,” added Petrone.

Now, as part of the travel information collection process, properties charging resort and Wi-Fi fees will receive points off their evaluation score, which could impact their overall rating. To facilitate member decision making, AAA’s digital and printed hotel listings will indicate if a resort fee is charged, and Wi-Fi reporting will shift from on-site availability to in-room availability and fees.

Another changing trend is increased focus on property exclusivity. The new guidelines continue to emphasize guest comfort and satisfaction while recognizing greater flexibility and differentiation in how hotels achieve this goal. For example, while improved bedding may have similarities across properties, approaches to enhanced décor may be wide ranging. Hotels may incorporate self-serve, playful or artistic elements such as check-in kiosks, interactive touch screens, digital signage, mood lighting or fragrances in social areas. At the higher rating levels, service standards have been updated to include a more creative approach to the personalized guest experience.

AAA inspectors have also noted growing member expectations for more amenities at lower rating levels, particularly in regard to technology. Examples include flat-screen televisions, portable device docking stations and jack packs that allow transmission of digital information on TVs. Other preferences growing in prevalence include sustainable design features, products and eco-friendly services. Relevant changes for each market segment are noted in the revised guidelines and will be reflected in the on-site evaluation report inspectors provide to all properties.

The AAA Diamond Rating Guidelines are updated as industry standards and member demand dictate and will continue to be a mirror of the most recent hospitality trends. View the new AAA Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines for lodgings, available to properties on the AAA.biz/Approved website.

AAA Inspectors: On-Site and In the Know

AAA’s professional inspectors get an in-depth, inside view of every AAA Approved property. They strive to avoid any treatment or services not extended to every guest to experience properties the same way members do, supplementing this view with a broad knowledge of the larger marketplace. “This comprehensive, real-time expertise sets AAA’s hotel ratings apart from any other source,” said Petrone.

“Because AAA inspectors are fully immersed in the industry, across all segments and markets, on a daily basis, they’re in an ideal position to observe industry trends as they emerge. Seen in isolation, for example, vivid design colors, open room designs that incorporate the bathroom or an infusion of natural lighting may appear unique; seen across multiple segments or geographic areas, these attributes may well be trends that prompt the next guidelines update,” explains Petrone.

Since 2007, other design trends noted by the inspectors and reflected in the revised guidelines include open and active lobby areas, dramatic headboards, wood and laminate flooring options and the increased use of glass, marble and stone. Amenities incorporate sustainable and allergy-free products and expanded fitness options. Technology trends include easy-to-use alarm clocks, single-use coffee makers and power stations for gadgets and devices.

About AAA Inspections

AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is the only comprehensive on-site inspection program of its kind, using published guidelines to evaluate, Approve and rate lodgings and restaurants on a scale of One to Five Diamonds. For 76 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections and publish the results for member travelers.

Listings of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants can be accessed in the downloadable eTourBook guides at AAA.com/ebooks, online at AAA.com/Travel and in the TourBook guides available at AAA and CAA offices. Travelers with smartphones can access Diamond Rated property listings using AAA’s free app or AAA Mobile Web, at AAA.com/mobile.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

Exclusive savings available on hotel stays, theme park tickets, car rentals and more

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 4, 2012) – As the summer travel season approaches many Americans will be carefully planning a vacation within their budget. A little research and advance planning can result in big savings. Last year AAA/CAA members saved nearly 2 billion dollars using AAA discounts and the Show Your Card & Save® program. AAA recommends travelers take advantage of cheaper prices by booking early and researching any available discounts such as those available to AAA members on hotels, car rentals and attraction tickets.

“Higher gas prices and tight household budgets continue to cause anxiety for some travelers who are currently planning a summer getaway,” said Gail Acebes, director, AAA Partnership Programs. “AAA is pleased to offer members many discounts on travel products and services that will ease the financial burden of a memorable vacation.”

AAA membership provides extensive discounts to make a summer getaway more affordable. The following is a partial list of travel discounts available to AAA members:

Lodging Discounts

AAA members who stay at AAA preferred hotels receive discounts ranging from five to 15 percent off the best available rate and the comfort of a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. Preferred hotels include Best Western, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, The Hilton Family including Hampton; Marriott brands including Renaissance; and Starwood Hotels & Resorts including Sheraton and Westin.

Lodgings vary greatly by cost and amenities. AAA categorizes its 31,000 AAA Approved hotels on a scale of One to Five Diamonds to help travelers identify properties that meet their needs and budget.

Car Rental Discounts

As the exclusive car rental partner of AAA, Hertz offers members a wide variety of money-saving  discounts and exclusive offers.  AAA member benefits include the guaranteed best rate available at time of reservation by booking channel; reduced rate for NeverLost®GPS, Hertz’s customized on-board navigational system, a discount on Hertz prepaid rates, a discount on the Fuel Purchase Option, no charge for additional qualified AAA drivers, free use of a child safety seat and more.

Savings on Train Travel and Sightseeing Activities

Whether heading home for a summer holiday or to another great North American destination, AAA members are eligible for exclusive savings on train travel. Members receive 10 percent off Amtrak passenger rail fares with three-day advance booking by visiting AAA.com/amtrak. Members also receive 10 percent off Gray Line sightseeing tours of one day or less by visiting AAA.com/grayline.  

AAA offers discounts at some of the most popular attractions for a summer getaway. In addition to saving on tickets and admission fees, AAA members save 10 percent at select merchandise and dining locations at Universal Orlando® Resort and Universal Studios HollywoodSM. Visit a AAA office at home or at your destination for additional AAA area discounts.

Stock up on Summer Travel Supplies

Additional savings can be found on summer travel supplies including clothes, bathing suits, film, sunscreen and even a new book to read pool-side at many retailers including:

  • Target.com:  $10 off online purchases of $100 or more
  • Banana Republic Factory Stores: 10 percent off on all purchases
  • Gap Outlet: 10 percent off on all purchases
  • Payless Shoesource: 10 percent off regularly priced merchandise

Travel Planning

Although last minute discounts can be found on travel, typically the best bargains and availability are accessible to those who book in advance.  If you are planning a complex summer vacation consider visiting a travel agent. A qualified travel agent, such as your AAA travel agent, works directly with travel providers and will be better equipped to negotiate discounts for you and advise you on other savings or benefits that may be available. 

Finding discounts on the road has never been easier. AAA now offers digital and mobile travel planning tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ including free apps that can map a route and locate AAA Discounts and gas prices near a user’s location. Visit AAA.com/mobile for more information.

Travelers can find AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants in the TourBook® guides available at AAA offices, the eTourBook guides at AAA.com/ebooks, online at AAA.com/Travel and from smartphones using AAA Mobile Web or the free apps at AAA.com/mobile.

Last year, members saved nearly $2 billion by taking advantage of AAA/CAA discounts including those available through the Show Your Card & Save® program. AAA’s Show Your Card & Save program is one of the largest member discount program in the world offering more than 164,000 locations for savings worldwide including 110,000 retail locations in North America and popular online retailers. Visit AAA.com/discounts for a complete list of retailers and offers.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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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