Posts Tagged ‘Public Speaker’

AAA Hotel Inspectors Looking for Well Connected Properties

April 9th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (April 9, 2018) – AAA recently updated its hotel Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines, the criteria inspectors use to evaluate more than 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The new guidelines, developed with input from AAA inspectors, members and industry professionals, reflect the importance of connective technologies that allow guests and lodging operators to interact on an increasingly personalized basis.

Ratings previously given for the traditional business center have been replaced by a score for connective technology, which reflects the hotel’s overall capability to connect with its guests. This includes not only the availability of free Wi-Fi and USB ports, but also robust mobile apps, interactive kiosks, mobile key technology, and the availability of digital messaging services at high-end properties.

Additional Resources

“AAA members put a high value on the availability and use of convenient, leading-edge technology at hotels. They expect properties to have up-to-date devices and free internet access, but also for the hotel to connect with them via technology,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “Thanks to the proliferation and rapidly increasing sophistication of hotel mobile apps, guests today can do a lot right from their smartphones and tablets.”

This translates to guests being able to book, check in and choose a room from a hotel’s app at a time and place that is convenient for them. While on-site, hotel guests can use these technologies to request more pillows and order breakfast, and increasingly, use their phone as a room key to bypass hotel staff upon check-in if they choose. Some properties are beginning to incorporate robotic bell staff and voice-controlled guest rooms, a peek at the technological possibilities of the near future.

AAA’s inspectors now also review a hotel’s technological capabilities, particularly guest request systems, as part of the anonymous overnight service evaluation conducted at Five Diamond properties. Inspectors use the hotel’s digital systems during their stay, and evaluate responsiveness, communication, presentation and follow-up.

Additional changes to the Diamond Rating guidelines reflect the proliferation of open-concept lobby designs with increased focus on gathering spaces and social seating arrangements; the popularity of shower-only bathrooms; the use of modern materials, especially for flooring; and the trickling down of high-end details—such as plush bedding, large, flat-screen televisions and sleek bathroom lighting—from upscale properties to the midscale and budget categories.

“The updated guidelines reinforce AAA’s longstanding pledge to provide our members with reliable travel information through on-site inspections and accurate ratings for all AAA Inspected & Approved hotels,” continued Petrone. “We include members in the review process to ensure the requirements reflect their expectations and the ratings emphasize their priorities.”

The new guidelines are currently in use by AAA’s professional inspectors and are available to hotels on AAA.biz/Approved.

AAA began field inspections of lodgings and restaurants in 1937, which evolved into the Diamond Ratings for hotels in 1976. The assignment of a rating of One to Five Diamonds marks the completion of a successful on-site evaluation by a professional AAA inspector. To learn more about AAA Diamond Ratings, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. 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’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

AAA provides more than 58 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 36 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (March 26, 2018) – Consumers can now look beyond their fingertips to find a AAA Diamond Rated restaurant. AAA has made it as simple as asking Amazon Alexa or Google Home for suggestions. With access to 31,000 AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants, the voice-based technologies can help consumers pinpoint a restaurant locally or find the perfect place to dine while traveling on a vacation.

Additional Resources

  • Amazon Alexa: 1 | 2
  • Google Home: 1 | 2

“Consumers want information instantly and easily. Voice-based technologies, like Alexa and Google Home, are driving this trend,” said Ramon Millan, vice president, chief technology and digital officer at AAA’s national office. “AAA continues to innovate and promote these exciting new approaches and, in so doing, is meeting and exceeding the needs of AAA members and other consumers alike while providing the most convenient access to Diamond Rated restaurants.”

Using the technology, consumers can interact in an instant with the trusted information from AAA’s TourBook guides to find local restaurants and even get an explanation on the AAA Diamond Rating system. To find a AAA Diamond Rated restaurant, use these commands and tips:

  • “Alexa, tell AAA to find me a restaurant.”
  • “Okay Google, tell AAA Restaurants to find me a restaurant.”
  • Be sure to pronounce AAA as “Triple A.”
  • Alexa users must enable the skill before they can access Diamond Rated restaurants.

AAA is working to apply the technology to be compatible with other voice-based devices and expand the capabilities. To learn more about AAA’s Diamond Ratings, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Move Over Baby Boomers, Millennials Embrace Family Travel

March 15th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallAAA survey reveals an estimated 88 million Americans will take family trips this year.

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 15, 2018) – Led by millennials, some 88 million Americans plan to take family vacations this year. According to the latest research from AAA Travel, 44 percent of millennials are planning a family getaway, more than members of Generation X (39 percent) or baby boomers (32 percent).

“Just like generations before them, millennials see a family vacation as one of the best ways to create memories and reconnect with loved ones,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. “No matter their age, families are going on not just one, but multiple vacations throughout the year to revisit favorite destinations and experience new places.”

Additional Resources

  • Infographics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

As travelers seek new sights, AAA expects family trips abroad to be a hot trend in 2018. Of families who will take a trip this year, 35 percent plan to visit an international destination – a nine percentage point increase from just two years ago. Based on advance travel bookings, AAA predicts the top five most likely international destinations for families will be:

  1. Cancun, Mexico
  2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  3. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. Dublin, Ireland

“We’ve seen increased demand for international travel overall, and that trend is now starting to appeal to families,” continued Sutherland.

For families staying stateside, expensive gas prices – the highest prices seen since 2014 – are not stopping vacation planners from packing up their cars for a road trip. They remain the most popular option for family vacations, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those planning a trip expected to hit the roads.

Additional AAA family travel highlights for 2018:

  • Families are taking more trips per year. One in four (27 percent) traveling families is planning to take three or more family vacations in the next 12 months, 12 percentage points more than in 2016.
  • Family travelers are looking for new experiences. Three-quarters (73 percent) of families that are planning a vacation this year are seeking a destination they have not previously visited.
  • Families are seeking R&R. When looking for these new experiences, families are choosing destinations with attractions such as beaches and mountains (61 percent), opportunities for sightseeing (59 percent) and relaxation (56 percent).

AAA’s travel experts recommend that families plan their trips with AAA’s Diamonds in mind. AAA’s professional inspectors assess nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean to assign AAA Diamond Ratings. Every AAA Inspected & Approved hotel and restaurant is acceptable for the type of experience it provides. Ratings, from One to Five Diamonds, help travelers find the level of services, facilities and amenities they’re looking for on their vacation. Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments in the AAA Mobile app, AAA Travel Guides and TripTik Travel Planner.

To help families even further, AAA’s inspectors have identified some of their favorite family-friendly hotels for 2018. To learn more and begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/TravelTips.

AAA’s family travel research is the result of a telephone survey (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,005 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted January 26-28, 2018. This study has an average statistical error of ±7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Five Diamond dining establishments are noted for specialty ingredients, advanced culinary techniques

ORLANDO, Fla. (February 21, 2018) – AAA has unveiled 68 restaurants that earned the AAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for this year’s Five Diamond Restaurants list. The eight new honorees feature a range of culinary trends from frequently changing tasting menus to open kitchens with counter seating.

Just 0.2 percent of the more than 31,000 AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants are Five Diamond Rated. To qualify for the rating, a restaurant will consistently provide leading-edge cuisine of the finest ingredients, uniquely prepared by an acclaimed chef and served by expert service staff in extraordinary surroundings.

Additional Resources

“Attaining a Five Diamond Rating is an exceptional accomplishment that signifies meticulous attention to detail, creativity in enhancing comfort, outstanding service and memorable guest experiences,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “And as more mid-scale and even budget properties are adding amenities for comfort and convenience, hotels that aim for a Five Diamond Rating must stay far ahead of the curve to differentiate themselves through advanced design concepts, highest quality furnishings and scrupulous attention to guests’ expectations.”

“Five Diamond restaurants have evolved over the years to meet the changing expectations of restaurant enthusiasts who are increasingly sophisticated about cuisine,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “Guests want to learn about cooking techniques, ingredient sourcing and the latest trends. They are looking for a wide-ranging dining experience that includes being educated and entertained. No longer does world-class necessarily mean formal attire and opulent surroundings. And that’s where AAA’s Diamond Ratings can help guide the discerning diner.”

While some Five Diamond restaurants still have lavish surroundings, others feature counter seating or chef’s tables overlooking or surrounding the cooking area. And many Five Diamond restaurants, including most of those new to the list this year, have tasting menus offering a frequently changing array of intricate small dishes prepared from the finest ingredients and presented in an interactive environment.

Of note about the eight honorees added to the Five Diamond list this year:

  • Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare – New York City. Prepaid guests enter this “hidden restaurant” in Hell’s Kitchen through an unmarked passageway in the back of a grocery store. From the 18-seat chef’s table or one of a few side tables, patrons watch as an extravagant tasting menu is artistically prepared before their eyes, offering nearly three hours of culinary bliss.
  • Manresa – Los Gatos, California. This elegant restaurant offers a creative, artistic menu filled with local and global influences. Fresh dishes from a menu likely to change daily may include rack of veal, spring lamb or abalone. The wine pairing is highly recommended.
  • McCrady’s – Charleston, South Carolina. This is half of a dual-concept eatery, shared with a tavern that has a more casual menu and is a good spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. McCrady’s offers a 10- to 12-course menu of small dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. Diners sit at a black walnut counter in front of a gleaming open kitchen. The set menu may include sea urchin, local clams, Magwood shrimp, fresh cobia, aged beef, Ossabaw Island pork or foie gras.
  • Pineapple and Pearls – Washington, D.C. At this unassuming storefront restaurant, guests are greeted with a glass of champagne. The welcoming, expert staff guides patrons through a set tasting menu of courses. The all-inclusive experience is prepaid, including wine pairings or mock cocktails, so don’t expect a bill after the meal.
  • TEMPO Contemporary Cuisine by Martin Berasategui – Cancun, Mexico. Dishes may include red tuna tartar, roasted butterfish, lobster, Kobe beef and rabbit. Options include an eight-course tasting menu that changes regularly. Guests enjoy professional, attentive service and excellent wine selection assistance. Business-casual attire and closed-toe shoes are required.
  • The Catbird Seat – Nashville, Tennessee. This intimate, sleekly designed restaurant features super-local ingredients including produce grown seasonally in the restaurant’s patio garden. Counter seating surrounds the open kitchen. The multi-course tasting menu changes often but is always a highly interactive and adventurous experience, with chefs describing every course.
  • Topper’s Nantucket, Massachusetts. This charming waterfront restaurant, inside an elegant beach inn, can be reached by complimentary water taxi service, a scenic one-hour cruise along the bay with pre-dinner cocktail service. The changing prix-fixe menu may include fine caviar, black truffles, lobster, rack of lamb, tender sirloin or oysters farmed right off the docks. Beautiful sculptures separate linen-covered tables, and the wine list includes 1,500 different labels and 25,000 bottles.
  • VetriPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania. This namesake restaurant of Chef Marc Vetri offers a multi-course culinary symphony led by knowledgeable servers. The menu varies to include fresh seasonal ingredients, but the Swiss chard gnocchi is a staple that melts in the mouth. Fresh breads, pasta and pastries are made from sustainable, house-milled grains. Vegetarians and guests with dietary restrictions are easily accommodated. Cooking classes are offered, ranging from bread and pastry baking to wine courses.

“It is no small feat to be named a AAA Five Diamond restaurant. Receiving this rating is a rare honor that signifies the highest-quality flavors and innovative presentations, with personalized service in memorable surroundings,” added Petrone. Restaurants receiving a Five Diamond Rating undergo a number of checks and balances including multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts to ensure credibility.

AAA Four Diamond restaurants are also an exclusive group, offering distinctive, creatively prepared cuisine, skillfully served in a notable environment. Only 2.1 percent of AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants – 665 – made the Four Diamond list for 2018, including 52 added this year.

AAA began field inspections of lodgings and restaurants in 1937, then went to a formal rating system in 1963 that in 1976 evolved into the Diamond Rating system for lodgings. (The Diamond Ratings for restaurants started in 1985.) The AAA inspectors who assign these ratings have a wide range of hospitality experience – their resumes include stints as hotel managers and food and beverage experts – that gives them an authoritative perspective. Inspectors provide an unmatched first-person, on-site view of emerging trends. To see the complete lists of 2018 AAA Four and Five Diamond restaurants, visit AAA.com/DiamondAwards. To see which cities and states have the most award winners, see AAA Four and Five Diamond Restaurant Facts.

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. 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’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

AAA provides more than 58 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 36 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

 

Restaurant Images

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York City

(Photo Credit: AAA, Adriana Rodriguez)

Manresa, Los Gatos, California

(Photo Credit: Eric Wolfinger)

McCrady’s, Charleston, South Carolina

(Photo Credit: Andrew Cebulka)

Pineapple and Pearls, Washington, D.C.

(Photo Credit: AAA)

TEMPO Contemporary Cuisine by Martin Berasategui, Cancun, Mexico

(Photo Credit: AAA)

The Catbird Seat, Nashville, Tennessee

(Photo Credit: Anthony Tahlier)

Topper’s, Nantucket, Massachusetts

(Photo Credit: Topper’s)

 

Vetri, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(Photo Credit: AAA)

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 14, 2017) – ‘Tis the season to traditionally spend with family and friends and this year Americans are traveling in record numbers. AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Jan. 1. This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

Additional Resources

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

For the 97.4 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

By the Numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: The majority of travelers – 97.4 million – will hit the road (a 3 percent year-over-year increase).
  • Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
  • Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.

Holiday Headache Hotspots
Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. For example, drivers in New York City could see travel times peak at three times a normal trip between 3:30 and 5:30pm.

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier
New York, NY Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:30 – 5:30 PM 3x
Los Angeles, CA Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:30 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
Washington, DC Thursday, Dec. 21 3:00 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
San Francisco, CA Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:00 – 5:30 PM 2x
Chicago, IL Thursday, Dec. 21 4:00 – 6:00 PM 2x
Boston, MA Thursday, Dec. 21 2:30 – 4:30 PM 2x
Seattle, WA Wednesday, Dec. 20 4:00 – 6:00 PM 2x
Atlanta, GA Thursday, Dec. 21 4:30 – 6:30 PM 1.5x
Houston, TX Wednesday, Dec. 20 5:30 – 7:30 PM 1.5x
Detroit, MI Thursday, Dec. 21 3:00 – 5:30 PM 1.5x

Source: INRIX

Travel Tip: Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.

Pricey pump prices to decrease
The 90 percent of holiday travelers choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014. This December’s national average price is $2.47 (Dec. 1-13), which is 28 cents more than last December. The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.

Airfare and hotel rates trend cheaper, car rentals increase year-over-year
Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. On average, 2017 airfares are 5 percent less expensive compared to 2016. Overall, competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline. Travelers can also find savings at AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels. On average, a Three Diamond hotel nightly rate is $156, a two percent year-over-year decrease. The Two Diamond nightly average rate is $121, a five percent decrease from last year.

Similar to Thanksgiving, car rental rates are more expensive on the year. At $74, the daily car rental rate increased 11 percent. This sets a new five-year record high rate for year-end holiday travel. The increase is on par with the rate increases seen at Thanksgiving.

Top 10 Year-End Holiday Travel Destinations
For a second year, Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Warmer weather destinations reign supreme in winter months with Cancun, Kahului (Maui) and Montego Bay gaining in popularity as holiday spots compared with last year.

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Anaheim, Calif.
  3. Cancun, Mexico
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Kahului (Maui), Hawaii
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  8. Miami, Fla.
  9. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  10. New York, N.Y.

Travel Tip: Airports will be busy and security lines may be longer than usual around the holidays. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of their flight. During peak travel times, contact your airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier. This time of year travelers need to also be aware of potential weather delays. Make sure to check flight status regularly before traveling to the airport. To expedite travel, AAA recommends enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

Lockouts, flat tires to strand nearly one million motorists
The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and AAA expects to rescue nearly one million (901,600) motorists. Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called for roadside assistance over the holidays. For members in need of roadside assistance, download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP. For added convenience, Wazers can now request AAA roadside assistance directly from the Waze app by tapping the Report menu.

Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America, for an inspection. In case of an emergency, be prepared by keeping a cell phone and charger with you at all times. Carry an emergency kit with a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water.

Travel Tip: Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday road trip and schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy. Also, be aware of the dangers of driving distracted. Drivers should designate a passenger to serve as their official text messenger and navigator.

Download the AAA Mobile app before your holiday getaway
Before heading out on your year-end holiday road trip, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & 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.

About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-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 Markit 2017 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

On-Site Inspections Reveal the Best Of One, Two and Three Diamonds

ORLANDO, Fla. (August 15, 2017) – With 59,000 Diamond Rated establishments from which to choose, AAA has unveiled a new Best Of designation to give travelers another way to find great options for any trip or budget. Currently just seven percent of AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants have earned the “Best Of” distinction. These establishments have overall ratings in the top 20 percent for their Diamond Rating level, no member complaints in the past 12 months and, for hotels only, A Rated cleanliness and condition.

Additional Resources

“When travelers are choosing a Diamond Rated hotel or restaurant, they should think of each additional Diamond as an indicator of more extensive services offered. AAA doesn’t approve substandard properties, which separates our ratings from the rest,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections and Diamond Ratings. “Whether an establishment offers a simple environment or extensive luxury, it provides members with a good choice for the type of experience provided.”

The vast majority of AAA’s Diamond Rated establishments ‒ 90 percent of hotels and 97 percent of restaurants ‒ earn a rating of One, Two or Three Diamonds. Undergoing evaluation from one of AAA’s professional inspectors, these hotels and restaurants meet AAA’s rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and they offer travelers more casual and affordable options that are often just as charming and memorable as their higher rated counterparts.

“Every AAA Diamond Rated establishment must consistently meet and exceed the expectations of the most discriminating traveler — the AAA inspector,” continued Petrone. “It’s a great accomplishment for any property to be listed as AAA Inspected & Approved. Those at the One, Two and Three Diamond levels are the most common and frequently visited by AAA members. This new Best Of designation highlights those at the top of their rating level.”

Here is a sampling of the diverse One, Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants across North America that have earned a Best Of designation. Travelers can find more selections at AAA.com/123Diamonds.

Best Of One, Two and Three Diamond Hotels

Mountain Waters Resort – Portland Creek, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (AAA One Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
These cozy, well-kept cabins with decks are located in a quiet and picturesque wooded setting. Fishing is popular here as the renowned Salmon River and Portland Creek Pond border the property. Guests can immerse themselves in the outstanding natural surroundings thanks to the lack of internet and cell phone reception.

Cowboy Village Resort – Jackson, Wyoming (AAA Two Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Located near dining and specialty retailers, the village offers a wonderful selection of studio and one-bedroom log cabins. All cabins have a picnic table, seating on a covered porch and a sofa bed as an added bonus. In the main building, the upscale lobby features an impressive floor-to-ceiling fireplace, the perfect spot to sit and relax.

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – Lake Buena Vista, Florida (AAA Two Diamond)

AAA Inspector Notes: Giant football helmets, hockey sticks and baseball bats decorate this sports-themed property. Abundant recreational amenities include dive-in movies and play areas with ping-pong, corn hole and foosball games. Guests can easily quell their hunger pangs at the food court and purchase souvenirs at the convenient on-site Disney store.

Inn at Cape Cod – Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Massive, iconic columns define the front porch of this Colonial-style mansion with grounds shaded by stately trees leading to a 100-acre nature reserve. Rooms are outfitted with rich furnishings, pillow top mattresses, soft triple sheeting and high-end bath amenities. A 24-hour coffee and tea station is available on each floor and complimentary homemade cookies are offered every afternoon.

Ocean Place Resort & Spa – Long Branch, New Jersey (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
A great option for a sunny escape, this hotel features sleek, modern rooms (some with ocean views); a luxury spa; beach club access; and a laid-back tiki bar. The hotel features dozens of mature palm trees brought in from the Gulf Coast to give the resort a distinctly Floridian feel.

Best Of One, Two and Three Diamond Restaurants

Rodeo Goat – Dallas, Texas (AAA One Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
This is the place for diners who have ever thought their burger needed grilled peaches, a fried egg or blackberry compote on top. Those and other creative ingredients are combined to make a distinctive burger menu. Get there early; the place fills up quickly, especially at lunchtime.

Tupelo Honey Café – Chattanooga, Tennessee (AAA Two Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Traditional Low Country favorites such as fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits are served in heaping portions. The menu features twists on Southern staples, such as nutty fried chicken served with smashed sweet potatoes, asparagus and a side of goat cheese grits.

Sava’s – Ann Arbor, Michigan (AAA Two Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Locals love the expansive Sunday brunch buffet offering everything from homemade pop tarts to egg dishes that change weekly. For lunch and dinner, the seasonal menu features fresh salads, small plates, steaks, juicy burgers and pasta. Friendly servers are always ready to make a recommendation, such as the lobster BLT topped with thick-cut bacon.

The Boiler Room – Omaha, Nebraska (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
The menu changes often and is focused on local, farm-to-table ingredients and pre-Prohibition era cocktails. The two-level space, a restored boiler room originally built in 1887, offers guests a bird’s-eye view of the expert chefs working diligently in the kitchen to prepare delicious meals.

Outpost – Goleta, California (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
This restaurant offers retro California style with original artwork and a lively atmosphere. The covered patio area features views of the fire pit and pool at AAA Three Diamond Rated The Goodland hotel. For a tasty alternative, try the duck tacos paired with a local wine from the surrounding area.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Consumer Appetite for Electric Vehicles Rivals Pickups

April 18th, 2017 by Jessica Souto

ErinSteppAAA unveils top electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 18, 2017) – Despite lower gas prices, a new AAA study reveals that consumer interest in electric vehicles remains high, with the survey showing that more than 30 million Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. With rising sales, longer ranges and lower costs, AAA predicts a strong future for electric vehicles, and announces the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.

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“With their lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies, electric vehicles are poised to be a key vehicle of the future,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “Tesla — a standout in AAA’s evaluations — has helped widen the appeal of electric vehicles by showing they can be stylish, performance-focused and filled with cutting-edge technology.”

Despite the fact that gas prices are about 40 percent lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15 percent are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.

Concern for the environment remains the primary motivating factor for electric vehicle shoppers, but AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool lanes are all influential. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one third (32 percent) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.

Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70 percent rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle – equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance – ahead of safety technology (50%), brand (48%), style, color and design (46%) and smartphone connectivity (34%).

With a focus on the future, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center rates and ranks electric vehicles, hybrids, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG), diesels and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles for the annual AAA Green Car Guide.  Vehicles are rated on the criteria that matter most to car buyers, including ride quality, safety and performance.

“While desire for green vehicles is strong, making the leap to an electric, hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicles can be daunting to car shoppers,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “AAA’s rigorous evaluations help take the guesswork out by providing an unbiased evaluation of these vehicles based on more than a dozen individual criteria.”  

In 2017, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:

Category Winner
Overall Tesla Model X 75D
Subcompact Car Chevy Bolt EV Premier
Compact Car Volkswagen e-Golf SE
Midsize Car Lexus GS 450h F Sport
Large Car Tesla Model S 60
Pickup Ford F150 XLT Super Crew
SUV Tesla Model X 75D

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.

While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to “range anxiety” – the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.

“Range anxiety stems from seeing gas stations, not charging stations, on every corner,” continued Brannon. “While electric vehicles may not yet fit every lifestyle, the number of charging stations has quadrupled over the last five years and battery ranges support average commutes.”

To assist with range anxiety, drivers of electric vehicles can find the closest charging station via the AAA Mobile app or AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. In 2017, charging station availability has grown to more than 15,000 locations across the United States.

Additional survey data, study methodology, infographics, photos and video can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA advises drivers to save $50 per month for car care fund

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 4, 2017) – According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses, and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.

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“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”

Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost can soar higher when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

“Anticipating your vehicle’s needs before problems strike is important,” continued Nielsen. “While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run.”  

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
  • Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a trusted repair facility. Visit com/autorepair to locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.

If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ErinSteppNew AAA survey reveals that Americans still leery of a driverless future

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 7, 2017) – A new report from AAA reveals that the majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to fear the fully self-driving car. Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and only 10 percent report that they’d actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles. As automakers press forward in the development of autonomous vehicles, AAA urges the gradual, safe introduction of these technologies to ensure that American drivers are informed, prepared and comfortable with this shift in mobility.

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“A great race towards autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “However, while U.S. drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle.”

In 2016, a AAA survey found that three-quarters of Americans reported feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car. One year later, a new AAA survey found that fear is unchanged. While the majority are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, the latest survey also found that the majority (59%) of Americans are keen to have autonomous features in their next vehicle. This marked contrast suggests that American drivers are ready embrace autonomous technology, but they are not yet ready to give up full control.

“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver – and they’re correct,” continued Brannon. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Half (54%) of U.S. drivers feel less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while one-third (34%) feel it wouldn’t make a difference and only 10 percent say they would feel safer.
    • Women (58%) are more likely to feel less safe than men (49%).
    • Baby Boomers (60%) are more likely to feel less safe than Generation X (56%) or Millennials (41%)
  • The majority (59%) of U.S. drivers want autonomous vehicle technology in their next vehicle, while the remainder do not (25%) or are unsure (16%).
    • Millennials (70%) are the most likely to want the technologies, compared to Generation X (54%) and Baby Boomers (51%).
  • Three-quarters (78%) of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.
    • Baby Boomers (85%) are more likely to be afraid than Millennials (73%) and Generation X (75%) drivers.
    • Women (85%) are more likely to be afraid than men (69%).

To educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to the on-going, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies. Previous testing of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, self-parking technology and lane keeping systems has shown both great promise and great variation. This variation may be particularly concerning to consumers, with AAA’s survey revealing that 81 percent of Americans feel that automated vehicle systems should all work similarly and consistently across all vehicle manufacturers. Future AAA testing will look at how well systems work together to achieve higher levels of automation.

“Every year, we lose approximately 35,000 people on America’s roadways, most as a result of human error,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA’s managing director of Government Relations and Traffic Safety. “Connected and automated vehicle technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce this number, and automakers, government agencies and safety organizations like AAA must continue working together to ensure that these new vehicles are safely tested and deployed.”

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ellen Edmonds Contact TileSeventy percent of U.S. drivers at risk for costly, dangerous rust damage

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2017) – As the end of winter approaches, millions of Americans will face pricey vehicle repairs from rust damage caused by chemicals used to de-ice roadways. According to a new AAA survey, U.S. drivers paid an estimated $15.4 billion in rust repairs caused by de-icing methods over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. AAA warns drivers, especially the 70 percent (150 million) who live in areas affected by snow and ice, to take action to prevent dangerous rust-related vehicle damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical vehicle components.

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“While the application of de-icing salts and solutions is critical to keeping our nation’s roadways safe every winter, it’s important that drivers pay attention to warning signs that their vehicle may be suffering from rust-related damage,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This can be much more than a cosmetic issue, it can also create serious safety issues for drivers by impacting brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections.”

AAA strongly urges drivers who experience any of the following vehicle malfunctions to immediately move the vehicle off the road to a safe location and have it towed to a trusted repair facility.

  • In-dash warning lights for brakes and other critical systems.
  • A “spongey” or soft feeling when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
  • An unusually loud exhaust sound or the smell of fumes in or around the vehicle.
  • The prominent smell of gasoline or diesel fuel when the vehicle is parked or running.

In recent years, many state and local transportation departments have shifted from using rock salt to liquid de-icers to combat ice and snow on the roadways. These newer alternatives are more effective than traditional salt because they can be applied before a snowstorm, have a lower freezing point and melt ice and snow faster. However, these same characteristics can be even more damaging to vehicles since the chemicals remain in liquid form longer and are more likely to coat components and seep into cracks and crevices where corrosion can accelerate.

“In the last five years, 22 million U.S. drivers have experienced rust damage to their cars due to salt and liquid de-icers,” continued Nielsen. “In addition to the safety risk, repairs to fix these problems are often costly, averaging almost $500 per occurrence.”

While some rust damage is unavoidable, AAA recommends drivers take the following preventative steps in order to reduce the possibility of vehicle damage:

  • When possible, limit driving immediately before, during and after winter storms when salt and de-icing solutions are being applied and are at their highest concentrations.
  • Frequently wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to the undercarriage. This will loosen, dissolve and neutralize road salts. Many drive-through car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.
  • Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.
  • Repair any body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
  • Before the start of winter, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
  • Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring. Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed.

Pothole damage is another concern for drivers, as snow and ice melt and roadways begin to crumble. A new AAA survey found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage significant enough to require repair in 2016, with repair bills ranging from under $250 to more than $1000. To address this issue, AAA believes that more funding is needed to keep pace with critical repairs and ongoing maintenance of the nation’s roadways.

When pothole or rust damage occurs, it is imperative to choose a reputable repair facility. The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network includes nearly 7,000 facilities which have met AAA’s high standards, including, certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits such as priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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