Archive for Friday, April 23, 2010

More Kansans choosing vacations that see them venturing not too far from home

AAA adds roadside services to make trips even easier

April 23, 2010


When Kansans hit the road, they increasingly rely upon technology and count on connectivity to help keep them on their way.

AAA is banking on it, bolstering its business plan with goals for boosting roadside assistance, tapping into advanced communications and steering toward advancements for handling electric cars or anything else that scientists or engineers can come up with in moving people from Point A to Point B.

“There will be a ‘Next Big Thing,’ and it will be exciting,” said Jim Hanni, executive vice president for AAA, and the top administrator for its Kansas region. “You’ll continue to see a growing presence with AAA in providing automotive service. That’s where our members expect us to be and that’s the way they think of us, and that will be very, very important.”

The club’s focus comes as Kansans continue to search for relatively short, economical trips to get away from home in search of culture, recreation and other enjoyment in the midst of a rough economy. As travel officials are projecting a slight increase in industry numbers this year, state leaders are planning to launch an in-state marketing campaign May 12 — one to encourage close-to-home travelers to invite their friends and family to join them for the rides.

“People still have a need and a desire to travel, even through these tough economic times,” said Becky Blake, director of travel and tourism for the Kansas Department of Commerce. “It’s one of those last things people want to give up.”

More people traveling means more people signing up as members of AAA, which saw its statewide tally bump up by 2 percent during the past year, Hanni said. The club has about 15,000 members in Douglas County alone.

Members get discounts on products and services from travel companies, hotels and other operations outside the traditional travel industry. AAA also offers insurance, and is perhaps best known for its traditional “TripTik” trip-planning services and 24-hour roadside assistance.

Such traditional services are advancing with the times. AAA offers GPS-enabled mapping services, with directions to attractions, restaurants and gasoline stations along the way. New iPhone “apps” can steer customers toward discounts, or to summon roadside assistance.

And the AAA truck that shows up to help is offering more assistance than ever before. Sure, the driver still can pour gasoline into a tank or change a flat tire, but now there’s the option of getting a replacement battery installed right there on the side of the road.

Next up: even more repairs, without ever having to get a tow.

“We’ll try to do more and more at the roadside,” Hanni said. “If you’ve got a busted hose or a belt or something that can be done right there, why not do it? It’s called on-the-go service. That’s what we’re working on.”


finance 7 years, 7 months ago

God help us. Now we don't even have the resources to escape (however momentarily) the state of Kansas that has condemned us to miserable existence.

finance 7 years, 7 months ago

" Kansans continue to search for relatively short, economical trips to get away from home in search of culture, recreation and other enjoyment."

Yep, culture, recreation, and enjoyment--things by default lacking from a definition of "living in Kansas." Who's surprised here? Duh.

LogicMan 7 years, 7 months ago

“If you’ve got a busted hose or a belt or something that can be done right there, why not do it?"

Do they carry spare dilithium crystals? The mothership needs some so that I can go on vacation to the Delta Quadrant. Haven't traveled there in a millenium or two.

boothillbilly 7 years, 7 months ago

I love Kansas' state parks, but they need more staff. The last two times I went camping, 1. there was a man who let his dog loose. The dog jumped in our car and whizzed all over the passenger side front seat. Later, the man apparently mixed his meds with an antivenin, and was shouting how he didn't want to hurt people, he just wanted to kill them. The police and park serviced showed up two hours later, after we called. 2. While camping at Pomona, a man showed up by our campsite at 9 pm, started blasting loud music, and getting aggressive and drunk. When I politely asked him to turn the music down (as my wife and I wanted to get to bed), he started screaming racial slurs at me, and then proclaimed for the next hour and a half, that real Americans like music (which was not the issue), and that he would come over and "send y'all back to Iran." (Disclosure: I, nor my wife, are Iranian, nor of Persian descent) We were unable to locate a park ranger, camp steward, and rather than tolerate this abuse, left.

Kansas has some great resources, but needs to make sure that people feel safe while visiting them.

kristyj 7 years, 7 months ago

to spite the Kansas Dept. of Commerce & stay within your budget, go where the real action is, Nebraska!

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