Posts Tagged ‘Spokesperson’

Organizations Collaborate to Improve the Customer Experience and Provide Innovative Transportation Solutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 1, 2018) – AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, and Lyft, the fastest growing rideshare company in the U.S., have announced the start of new collaboration to provide innovative mobility solutions to AAA members and customers. Through a new program in select markets, AAA and Lyft will offer mobility options to drivers who find themselves without a vehicle and in need of transportation.

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The program offers free rides to customers at select AAA owned and operated Car Care Centers. Until recently, AAA has offered car care customers complimentary shuttle rides to their destination – work, home, school or somewhere else. With Lyft’s concierge platform, select AAA locations can now schedule complimentary Lyft rides for customers traveling to or from AAA Car Care Centers. Customers do not need the Lyft app or a smartphone. AAA is introducing these ride share resources in response to member demand for access to quick, hassle-free transportation.

This program is currently operating at AAA Car Care Centers in Maryland and select cities* in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“When it comes to transportation, people want options.  Providing a time-saving and convenient ride resource means one less worry for our busy members and customers,” said Marshall Doney, AAA president and CEO. “AAA Clubs and Lyft are playing an important role in exploring and testing mobility opportunities. Over time we expect the collaboration to offer additional transportation resources to meet the evolving needs of members.”  

In addition to the AAA Car Care Center, Lyft and CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer, are now providing motorists with the option of receiving Lyft credits during the auto insurance claim process, depending upon their individual vehicle circumstances. This pilot, launched in early 2017 and now available throughout CSAA Insurance Group’s 23 state and District of Columbia service area, is the first-of-its kind in the industry, and is part of CSAA Insurance Group’s ongoing work to serve the evolving needs of AAA members.

“We’re excited to help provide more transportation solutions for AAA members and customers,” said Gyre Renwick, VP of Lyft Business. “By offering an easy and affordable transit option for passengers while their vehicles are out of service for repairs, with Lyft credits or through our Concierge platform, we’re helping to create a seamless customer experience for both customers and AAA agents.”

This collaboration between AAA and Lyft is just the beginning of a partnership that will continue to deliver new and innovative mobility options to meet the demand and needs of AAA members and customers.

*Select cities operating Car Care Program: Indiana: Aurora; Kentucky: Alexandria, Florence, Ft. Wright, Newport and Walton; Ohio: Beavercreek, Cincinnati, Dayton, Fairfax, Forest Park, Franklin, Harrison, Huber Heights, Lebanon, Maineville, Milford, Perrysburg, Toledo and West Chester; Pennsylvania: Clifton Heights, Downingtown, Philadelphia, Warminster, Wayne, West Chester and Willow Grove; Virginia: Fairfax East, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Glenside, Manassas, Richmond and Swift Creek (Richmond).

About AAA: As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 35 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.

About Lyft: Lyft was founded in 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation. Lyft is the fastest growing rideshare company in the U.S. and is available to 95 percent of the US population as well as in Ontario, Canada. Lyft is preferred by drivers and passengers for its reliable and friendly experience, and its commitment to effecting positive change for the future of our cities, as the first rideshare company to offset carbon emissions from all rides globally.

AAA urges parents of teens to be engaged during the dangerous learning-to-drive process

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2018) – Teen drivers put everyone on the roadway at risk of a deadly crash, especially if they are bringing teen passengers along for the ride. New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash increased 51 percent. In contrast, when older passengers (35 or older) ride with a teen driver, overall fatality rates in crashes decreased eight percent. Considering the increased risk created by a combination of teen drivers and teen passengers, AAA emphasizes the need for teen drivers to gain adequate supervised training, especially in different driving scenarios, before taking what could be a fatal drive.

In 2016, teen drivers were involved in more than 1 million police-reported crashes resulting in more than 3,200 deaths. Researchers pinpointed that when teens were carrying teen passengers, fatality rates jumped:

  • 56 percent for occupants of other vehicles
  • 45 percent for the teen driver
  • 17 percent for pedestrians and cyclists

“This analysis shows that in crashes where teen drivers are behind the wheel with a teen passenger, a larger portion of those killed are other road users,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This study also found the fatality rate of a teen-driver related crash increased when factors like speeding or driving at night, were introduced.”

“Teens simply lack experience behind the wheel, which increases the odds of a deadly outcome, not just for the teen driver, but for their passengers and others on the roadways,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of AAA State Relations. “Parents of teens must take this rite of passage seriously by setting and consistently enforcing rules to limit teenage passengers in the vehicle.”

Supervised driving – with parents in the passenger seat as the coach – is the first step to teaching teens how to become responsible and safe drivers. AAA offers a multitude of resources at TeenDriving.AAA.com to help coach teen drivers, in addition to these tips:

  • Require teens to log at least 100 hours of supervised practice driving with a parent before driving solo.
  • Begin by practicing driving in low-risk situations and gradually move to situations that are more complex: highways, nighttime, driving in the rain, and on and around challenging roadways (e.g., curves).
  • Allow no more than one non-family passenger under the age of 20 to ride with the teen driver during the first six months of driving.
  • Use slightly different routes each practice session.
  • Practice adjusting speed based on three factors: visibility, on-road traffic and different road

“Strong coaching and diversity in practice driving sessions are key when teens have their learners permit.  And, once teens have their license, consistent parental involvement is essential,” Ryan said.

Other AAA resources available for parents include the StartSmart Online Parent session to coach their teen through the learning-to-drive process and Teaching Your Teen to Drive, a one-hour live action DVD and illustrated in-car handbook that parents can use to support supervised driving lessons. These and other parent/teen resources are available on TeenDriving.AAA.com.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About the study: Data used in the Everyone’s at Risk 2018 brief came from the 2016 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Crash Report Sampling Survey System (CRSS). The FARS database includes all motor vehicle crashes on public roadways that resulted in a fatality within 30 days of crash. The CRSS database is a nationally representative probability sample of all police-reported crashed in the United States.

About AAA: As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 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. Find more information on AAA clubs at AAA.com.

Gas Prices Remain Stable Amid the Aftermath of Hurricane Florence

September 17th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

While Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas over the weekend with life-threating storm-surge, rain and flooding, it has had little to no impact on gas prices, with the national average, holding steady at $2.85 on the week.

Gas prices have not seen much movement because unlike the Gulf Coast, which is home to dozens of refineries, the Carolinas house only pipelines and terminals. This means U.S. crude processing is not impacted and therefore neither are gas prices nationally.

Prior to Florence’s arrival, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the Lower Atlantic Region’s total gasoline stocks — which includes West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — measured at 27.9 million bbl. That is 10 percent higher than the 5-year average for this time of year.

“Gasoline stocks in the hurricane-impacted area are healthy, but delivery of gasoline will be an impediment to meeting demand in coastal areas this week,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “As power is restored, water recedes and roads open-up, we will have a better idea of how quickly fuel deliveries can be made to gas stations in the area. And while fuel availability at stations is a concern, AAA expects station outages to be short-lived.”

According to the Department of Energy, states are working closely with industry to expedite resupply shipments to impacted areas. AAA will continue to monitor hurricane recovery efforts and fuel resupply.

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.52), Mississippi ($2.54), Arkansas ($2.57), Louisiana ($2.58), Tennessee ($2.59), South Carolina ($2.60), Missouri ($2.60), Texas ($2.60), Virginia ($2.62) and Oklahoma ($2.64).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly changes are: Colorado (+10 cents), Indiana (-6 cents), Delaware (+6 cents), Florida (-5 cents), South Carolina (+5 cents), Louisiana (-4 cents), Alaska (-4 cents), Utah (-4 cents), Iowa (+4 cents) and California (+4 cents).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Hurricane Florence drove up gas prices in North Carolina (+3 cents) and Virginia (+1 cents) this past week. All other states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region saw prices decrease by a few cents or remained stable.

For motorists in coastal parts of North Carolina and Virginia, fuel availability post Hurricane Florence is a concern. As residents evacuated, panic-buying and tank-topping set-in, leaving some gas stations with low to no fuel at their pumps. The positive news is that Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regional gasoline inventories sit at a healthy 66.7 million bbl, which is not only the second highest inventory level recorded for the region this year, but a level not seen in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region since March 2016. This means that the region has adequate supply on-hand, and, weather-dependent, could be a resource to assist with resupply in the hurricane-impacted area, once water levels subside, roads are passable and power is restored.

South and Southeast

Hurricane Florence pushed up South Carolina’s ($2.60) state gas price average by just a penny on the week. Otherwise, pump prices for the majority of the South and Southeast are getting cheaper or seeing no change. Florida saw the largest drop of 3-cents during the last seven days while a one-cent drop was seen in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Pipelines and terminals are located in South Carolina, but were unaffected by the storm. Those facilities deliver approximately 3 million b/d of refined products to the eastern U.S. Once delivery trucks are able to take to the roads, the South and Southeast pipelines and terminals will help with resupply to the coastal areas.

As Gulf Coast refineries have not been impacted by the hurricane, processing continues as normal. South and Southeast gasoline inventories built by 600,000 on the week, according the EIA’s latest report. Total inventories measure at 81.2 million bbl, which is a healthy level for this time of year.

Great Lakes and Central

As area refineries undergo maintenance, state gas price averages in the Great Lakes and Central region are as much as five-cents more expensive since last Monday: Iowa (+5 cents), Nebraska (+4 cents), Ohio (+4 cents), and South Dakota (+3 cents). Only Missouri ($2.61) and Kansas ($2.66) saw a drop in pump prices on the week.

Today, there is a 32-cent difference in the most expensive state gas prices in the region carried in Michigan at $2.93 and least expensive at $2.61 in Missouri.

As pump prices see relatively small volatility, gasoline inventories continue to hover at the 53.1 million bbl mark. However, with unplanned and planned maintenance at some Great Lakes and Central refineries, inventories could decline this fall.

Rockies

On the week, Utah (-2 cents) and Idaho (-1 cents) motorists are paying less to fill-up. In fact, gas price averages across the Rockies states are mostly moving toward a return to pre-summer pump prices. Here is a snapshot of state gas prices since Memorial Day, at their highest summer price and today’s price:

  State gas price average on May 24, 2018 (start of Memorial Day Weekend) Highest gas price average this summer by state State gas price average on September 17, 2018
Colorado $2.89 $2.91 $2.91
Idaho $3.17 $3.26 $3.21
Montana $2.91 $2.95 $2.95
Utah $3.15 $3.21 $3.13
Wyoming $2.87 $3.00 $2.98

As demand begins to drop in the region, gasoline inventories took a small draw and continue to hover near the 6.5 million bbl mark. Gas prices will continue to trend cheaper as demand draws into the fall.

West Coast

The West Coast remains the nation’s most expensive region for retail gasoline, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.77) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.64), Washington ($3.38), Alaska ($3.31), Oregon ($3.26), Nevada ($3.20) and Arizona ($2.87). Prices in the region remain relatively flat compared to last week, except for a one-cent jump in California and Arizona.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast motor gasoline stocks totaled 28.4 million bbl during the week that ended on September 7 – a gain of 100,000 bbl from the previous week. Stocks are 1.3 million bbl lower than where they were at this time last year, which could support a price spike if supplies remain low amid an increase in demand.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 40 cents to settle at $68.99. Oil prices have edged higher last week following the release of the EIA’s weekly petroleum report that showed crude stocks fell by 5.3 million bbl last week. If supplies fall again in this week’s report, crude prices could climb further. Dwindling supplies have put a spotlight on shrinking global crude inventories, which could cause oil prices to push to $70-$80/bbl this fall. Continued decline in crude production from Venezuela and anticipated reduced crude exports from Iran due to U.S.-imposed sanctions that go into effect in November could place greater pressure on the market. In the near term, U.S. crude production has not been impacted by Hurricane Florence, as there were no refineries in Florence’s path.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

AAA: New Cars Lose $3,000 Annually from this Single Expense

September 13th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Drivers should keep resale value top of mind when buying a new vehicle

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sep. 13, 2018) – AAA’s 2018 Your Driving Costs study reveals the largest expense associated with purchasing a new car is something many drivers fail to consider – depreciation. In fact, it accounts for almost 40 percent of the cost of owning a new vehicle – more than $3,000 per year – and is influenced by a number of factors, including shifting consumer preferences. AAA urges car buyers to think about both market trends and length of ownership when shopping for their next vehicle purchase. 

“New vehicles offer the latest designs, cutting-edge technologies and warranties that offer peace of mind,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But, car owners that like to change vehicles frequently should be thinking about the resale value – not just the purchase price – when choosing their next ride.”

Additional Resources

AAA’s annual analysis found demand for sedans has slipped as American appetite shifts to SUVs and pickup trucks. As a result, depreciation costs of these once-popular vehicles increased up to 13 percent as compared to last year. Electric and hybrid vehicles, however, have seen a gain in popularity with 20 percent of Americans saying they will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent the previous year. This year, these vehicles also saw a dip in depreciation and offer many cost benefits such as lower repair and maintenance bills, making going green a more affordable choice than in years past.

Buyers often only give priority to purchase price and monthly payment when choosing a new car, sometimes selecting a vehicle based on the best deal available. The length of car ownership, however, is of equal importance. Consumers who plan to keep a vehicle for only a few years should be cautious of deep discounts and incentives offered by automakers and dealers. These are often designed to sell less popular models and directly influence depreciation. Low down payments and extended finance terms can also have a similar effect. Stretching a car loan over five, six or even seven years may be an effective way to lower payments, but owners may quickly find themselves owing more than the vehicle is worth.

Leasing is similarly affected since payments are based in part on the projected residual value of the car at the end of the lease, serving as a good indicator of which models experience higher or lower depreciation. Since resale value is not a factor at the end of the lease period, buyers who prefer less popular models or only want a vehicle for a short time, may consider leasing a more viable option.

“The secret to minimizing depreciation costs?” continued Nielsen. “Keep your car for a long time and keep it well-maintained or even consider buying a quality, pre-owned vehicle.”

AAA’s Your Driving Costs found the average cost to own and operate a new vehicle in 2018 is $8,849 per year. The figure is calculated based on the cost of fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and loan interest. The study examined 45 top-selling 2018 model-year vehicles across the following nine categories.

Vehicle Type Annual Cost*
Small Sedan $6,777
Hybrid $7,485
Small SUV $7,869
Electric Vehicle $8,384
Medium Sedan $8,866
Minivan $9,677
Medium SUV $9,697
Large Sedan $9,804
Pickup Truck $10,215
Average $8,849

*Based on 15,000 miles driven annually

While the latest technology, style and options make them attractive to car buyers, a new car may not be the most economical choice for some buyers. Vehicle owners looking for alternatives to new car ownership or ways to minimize their operating costs should consider the following:

  • Buy (gently) used – By driving a pre-owned vehicle in good condition, ownership costs are significantly lower. A safe, reliable vehicle can be found at an attractive price point.
  • Fuel responsibly – Avoid wasting money on premium grade gasoline unless your vehicle specifically requires it and, if you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans considering an electric car, these vehicles offer lower fuel and maintenance costs.
  • Show your car some love – It sounds counterintuitive, but spending money on routine maintenance can actually save you money in the end. To keep engines running cleaner and longer, consider switching to synthetic oil and upgrading to a higher quality fuel TOP TIER™ gasoline.
  • Slow down – When gas prices are high, small changes in the way you drive can make a big difference.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. Additional information and detailed driving costs, including those for fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and finance charges can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com or AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 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: 1-in-5 U.S. Drivers Want an Electric Vehicle

May 8th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 8, 2018) – American appetite for electric vehicles is heating up. A new AAA survey shows that 20 percent or 50 million Americans will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent in 2017. With lower-than-average ownership costs, increased driving ranges and the latest advanced safety features, AAA sees a strong future for electric vehicles. To help “green” car shoppers make an informed choice, AAA conducts independent, rigorous test-track evaluations of plug-in hybrids, hybrid and fuel-efficient, gas-powered vehicles.

“Today, electric vehicles have mainstream appeal,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “While concern for the environment is still a major motivator, AAA found U.S. drivers are also attracted to the lower long-term costs and advanced technology features that many of these vehicles offer.”

Additional Resources

Perhaps fueling American’s desire for electric vehicles, AAA’s survey found that “range anxiety” is beginning to ease. Among those unsure or unwilling to choose an electric vehicle for their next car, 63 percent (down 9 percent from 2017) cited not enough places to charge as a detractor while 58 percent (down 15 percent from 2017) expressed concern over running out of charge while driving. Not surprisingly, range anxiety is less of a concern for millennials (48 percent) than Generation X or Baby Boomers (64 percent and 66 percent, respectively).

While range is important to most (87 percent) electric and hybrid vehicle shoppers, it is not the only consideration. Reliability is king with nine-in-ten (92 percent) of those likely to by an electric or hybrid vehicle stating it is important when evaluating which car to buy. Electric and hybrid car shoppers are also prioritizing crash ratings (77 percent), cost (71 percent), acceleration and handling (69 percent) and advanced safety technology such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance (60 percent). Fewer drivers are concerned with style, color, or design of the vehicle (34 percent) or brand of the vehicle (33 percent).

To help drivers looking to making the switch or find their next green vehicle, Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center conducts extensive and thorough testing of high fuel efficiency, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles each year, and assigns ratings based on criteria important to buyers such as ride quality, safety and performance.

“A first-time buyer may feel overwhelmed or confused by the differences between gas-powered, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “Our evaluations are designed to help drivers select a safe, comfortable and reliable vehicle – not just the most efficient one.”  

In 2018, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:

Category Vehicle
Overall Tesla Model X 75D
Subcompact Car Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Compact Car Nissan Leaf SL
Midsize Car BMW 530e i-Performance
Large Car Tesla Model S 75
Pickup Ford F-150 4X4 XLT Sport
SUV/Minivan Tesla Model X 75D
Best Under $30K Kia Niro LX
Best $30K – $50K Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Best Over $50K 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.

Although Americans may be more eager to buy an electric vehicle, having the right infrastructure will be critical to its widespread adoption. In 2018, the availability of charging stations had grown to more than 16,000 in the United States and, although anxiety over range has reduced, AAA’s survey found consumer expectation for charging time while on the road may not align with reality. Seven-in-ten (68 percent) Americans feel that while out driving, a charging time of no more than 30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to wait.

“Today’s drivers are accustomed to a quick fill up at the corner gas station, but electric vehicle charging can sometimes take several hours,” said Brannon. “With a little planning, electric vehicle owners can avoid a roadside inconvenience and, as technology improves, charging times will too.”

Drivers can access charging station locations through AAA’s Mobile app or TripTik Planner. Additional survey data, study methodology, graphics, photos and video can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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.

 

Summer Travelers Seek Fun in the Sun

May 1st, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (May 1, 2018) – Millions of Americans are counting down the days until their summer vacations, with most U.S. travelers planning trips to warm-weather destinations. Orlando has retained its top spot as the most visited domestic travel destination, while Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii, have both grown in popularity compared with last summer.

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“This is shaping up to be another banner season for travel as Americans look to get out and enjoy themselves in the summer sun,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president, AAA Travel and Publishing. “Travelers are making plans now to visit theme parks, sail away on cruise vacations, relax at the beach and explore cities in the U.S. and across the globe.”

Domestic Travel

The top domestic summer travel destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips June 1 through August 15, are:

  1. Orlando, Florida (1)
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii (4)
  3. Anchorage, Alaska (2)
  4. Seattle, Washington (3)
  5. Los Angeles/Anaheim, California (5)
  6. Maui, Hawaii (7)
  7. Fairbanks, Alaska (6)
  8. Las Vegas, Nevada (8)
  9. Boston, Massachusetts (13)
  10. Salt Lake City, Utah (14)

*Number in parentheses indicates summer 2017 ranking.

Road trips remain the most popular family vacation option for those staying stateside, despite higher gas prices. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those planning a family trip are expected to hit the roads this year.

International Travel

“Many Americans, including those traveling as a family, will venture overseas for their summer vacations,” continued Sutherland. “More than one-third of families who are planning a trip together this year will visit an international destination.”

Rome has regained its standing as the most popular locale for international summer vacations, while Dublin and Paris both continue to climb in the rankings. Beach destinations in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico can also expect an influx of travelers this summer.

AAA’s top international summer travel destinations include:

  1. Rome, Italy (3)
  2. Vancouver, British Columbia (1)
  3. Dublin, Ireland (4)
  4. London, England (2)
  5. Paris, France (7)
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica (8)
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (5)
  8. Calgary, Alberta (10)
  9. Cancun, Mexico (6)
  10. Amsterdam, Netherlands (9)

*Number in parentheses indicates summer 2017 ranking.

Summer Travel Tips

AAA’s travel experts offer their top tips for travelers planning summer vacations, including:

  • Plan ahead – Book early for the best deals and availability on hotels, airfare, car rentals and more.
  • Work with a travel agent – Travel agents often have access to extra amenities and added benefits to help plan the perfect summer vacation. They can also be a tremendous help in the event something changes or goes wrong on your trip.
  • Be flexible – If your schedule permits, avoid traveling during peak times this summer, including Memorial Day weekend and around Independence Day, to encounter less congestion and fewer crowds.
  • Safety first – If driving, get plenty of rest before setting out on your road trip. Schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy.
  • Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready – Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Pack an emergency kit that includes a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.
  • Pack your patience – Summer is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Expect heavy crowds and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.

To help travelers plan their summer vacations, AAA’s professional inspectors have assessed nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. 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.

For more information and to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.  

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.

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)

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