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Travel Executives Help With Costly Summer Travel

6/12/2008

TRAVEL EXECUTIVES HELP VACATIONERS AVOID SUMMER OF DOOM AND GLOOM
Annual Leisure Travel Summit Brings Best Western, AAA and Cheapflights.com Together to Discuss Where to Find Added Value in Increasingly Costly Travel Environment

NEW YORK (June 12, 2008) – As fuel prices continue to soar, airlines cut back on capacity and many hotels sneak in fees on everything from Internet access to local calls, travelers are experiencing more road blocks than ever when booking vacations. Executives from Best Western International, the American Automobile Association (AAA) and Cheapflights.com recently gathered at an annual media conference to address issues and offer ideas for how to still have a great vacation this summer.

“Despite the unprecedented pressures on travelers this year, people need vacations and are looking for ways stretch their budget,” said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Best Western International. “Reservations at our 2,300 properties in the U.S. and Canada remain strong, and we attribute that to our reliable pricing and focus on guest care.”

All North American Best Western properties offer free high-speed Internet access, with ninety percent providing complimentary breakfast. The World’s Largest Hotel Chain’s annual summer promotion, which begins June 20, rewards guests who stay at least six nights with a $50 Best Western Travel Card that can be used at any Best Western hotel worldwide. Members of AAA earn the Travel Card after just five nights.

Families in particular will be changing the way they travel this summer, according to Amy Graff, Best Western’s leisure travel expert. “One-tank trips” and weekend road trips are increasing in popularity as families explore their own backyards. She said people are visiting less well-known amusement parks, zoos and other attractions that are equally as fun but also still affordable.

According to Betsy Sell, AAA’s managing director of travel products, gas prices are impacting travelers and businesses more than ever before, but consumers remain resilient.

“The average price of gasoline has reached more than $4 per gallon for the first time in history. While we predict road travel will decrease this July Fourth holiday weekend as we forecasted for Memorial Day, people still want and deserve to travel,” she said. “Whether they turn to destination options closer to home or will simply take fewer, shorter trips, we are here to help them find options to maximize their travel budgets.

AAA has introduced several programs to help consumers manage their road trips and costs. One such online service is TripTik® Travel Planner, available at AAA.com. TripTik maps out itineraries, spots the location of gas stations in the U.S. that are on the route and provides their fuel prices. A second online tool is the Fuel Cost Calculator, (www.fuelcostcalculator.com) which allows users to enter their starting point, their destination and the make and model of their car to calculate the gallons of fuel needed and the cost for the trip.

“TripTik Travel Planner was designed to map your route to a destination so you can adjust your time on the road accordingly,” said Sell. “It gives you driving directions, estimated drive time, total trip distance and turn-by-turn directions.”

Carl Schwartz, Chief Travel Officer for travel search engine Cheapflights.com, said that with competition growing and airfares increasing, consumers are doing more pre-purchase research than ever before.

“Consumers who once visited one or two Web sites before buying are now reviewing five to six sites,” he said. “They have also become much more flexible with their travel dates—all in an attempt to save money.”

Cheapflights.com caters to people who can be flexible with its destination-based travel search model, which provides deals that aren’t dependent on specific dates to destinations around the world.

“Flexibility is key,” said Schwartz. “With the freedom to build travel plans around the most affordable fares, travelers can control costs. We simplify the process for trip planners by offering deals in real time and in an easy-to-use format.”

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL
Best Western International is THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,0001 independently owned and operated member hotels in 801 countries and territories worldwide. An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Best Western's diverse property portfolio, its greatest strength, stems from a business model designed to give owners maximum flexibility to address market-specific needs. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a five-year mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. Since 2004, Best Western has served as the Official Hotel of NASCAR®. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.

*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.

ABOUT CHEAPFLIGHTS.COM
Cheapflights.com is the best place to find cheap flight deals and up-to-date travel information. As a leading U.S. travel search engine, the site publishes one of the largest selections of airfare deals available online from a huge range of flight providers. Every day, travelers can search more than one million flight deals from both traditional and low-cost airlines, as well as smaller specialty-travel providers, plus handpicked deals and flight offers exclusive to Cheapflights.com. The site’s Flight & Travel Info section and Flight News blog are packed with destination travel guides, travel tips, news and information to help flyers enjoy the best possible travel experience, every time they fly.

ABOUT AAA
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 50 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.

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