In spite of coronavirus, many Americans are planning a summer road trip getaway. According to a AAA Northeast survey, 68% of members say they’ll hit the road in the U.S. at some point this summer. AAA advises all travelers to follow CDC guidelines, and limit travel to states where COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations are on the decline. Careful planning is more important than ever: identify clean and convenient rest stops along your route in advance, research restrictions and executive orders in place in states through which you plan to drive, and sanitize your vehicle as well as your gas pump when you stop for fuel. Ask hotels for detailed cleaning protocol information, pool, beach, and elevator restrictions, study campsite regulations, and limit stops along the route to your destination.
AAA Northeast Travel will offer a host of safe summer travel and road trip tips in its second SmartDepart webinar Thursday, June 25 at 4pm. Tomorrow’s panel will feature travel expert Anne McAlpin, a veteran of CNN, Oprah and The View; John J. Goodman, Director of Media and Public Relations at the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, and Paula Twidale, Vice President of AAA Travel, one of North America’s largest leisure travel agencies.
SmartDepart is comprised of a digital travel resource hub, a video channel hosting safety discussion panels, and a travel advisor safety certification program. The first panel discussion launched June 9, during which leaders from Hertz, American Airlines, Marriott and Princess Cruises discussed the future travel landscape and how their companies are responding to adapt to this new travel “normal.” AAA’s Diana Imondi will again host Thursday’s 45-minute discussion, which aims to educate travelers on the challenges they face, as well as to answer questions AAA members may have around enhanced safety initiatives.
“Safety and advocacy have always been pillars of the AAA brand, but now with heightened sensitivity and constant changes in the travel and tourism industry, we want to make sure travelers have a simple and central resource to keep them informed. We are proud to launch SmartDepart, which offers our members a one-stop safety hub and the opportunity to connect with a travel professional who has been educated on the many diverse sources of information,” says Cyndi Zesk, Vice President of Travel Services at AAA Northeast. “We see it as our responsibility to be on the forefront of what’s next in travel, which today very much includes safe travel practices.”
The SmartDepart Agent Certification program, launching this summer for all AAA Northeast Travel advisors, is a formal learning program customized by the Learning & Development professionals at AAA Northeast. The program will compile insights into the safety, cleaning, policy and amenity changes taking place with travel’s top brands, as well as the latest information around border closures, mandatory quarantines and destination preparation. This designation positions AAA’s professional travel agents with the tools, training and resources needed to guide their clients.
“Our travelers have many questions about the changing landscape of travel and how these changes will impact them and their plans. They are looking for information about boarding procedures on airlines, health check requirements for cruise travel or mask regulations,” says Allison Villasenor, Managing Director of Product, Partnerships and Innovation for AAA Northeast. “And we’re poised to set up our travel agents with answers to these questions and more, so we can continue our commitment to member safety.”
To register for the SmartDepart panel discussion on Thursday, June 25 at 4pm, please