Tag Archives: AAA

Hyatt_Regency_Scottsdale_Resort_and_Spa_at_Gainey_Ranch_1

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale earns honor

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch received the esteemed AAA Four Diamond Rating. Hyatt Regency Scottsdale has maintained this celebrated rating consecutively since 1988.

Hotels at this level are committed to providing every guest with a personalized experience and attentive service in comfortable, high-quality surroundings, according to AAA. They typically offer an extensive array of amenities and guest services.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale is part of a select group of establishments within North America. Currently, just 1,535 hotels and 754 restaurants hold the AAA Four Diamond Rating.

“We are honored to be recognized as a AAA Four Diamond hotel,” said Peter Rice, General Manager. “At Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, we are committed to exceeding guest expectations and providing a premier travel experience. This rating acknowledges the hard work and dedication of our staff.”

“AAA is pleased to recognize Hyatt Regency Scottsdale as a Four Diamond hotel,” said Michael Petrone, director of AAA Tourism Information Development. “To maintain the exceptional standards required for this rating on a daily basis is an outstanding achievement. AAA Four Diamond establishments are attentive to guests needs and consistently deliver memorable travel and dining experiences.”

gasoline

Arizona gasoline prices keep falling

Arizona motorists are paying less at the pump again this week.

Officials with Triple-A Arizona said Thursday that the average statewide price for unleaded regular gasoline is $3.62 a gallon. That’s down by nearly 6 cents from last week.

This week’s national average is $3.50 per gallon, a decrease of more than 9 cents from last week.

Tucson has the lowest average gasoline price in Arizona at $3.38 a gallon while Flagstaff has the highest at $3.85.

Missouri has the lowest average gas prices in the continental U.S. at $3.14 a gallon with California having the highest at $4.07 a gallon.

GPEC Profile: Mike Tully, President And CEO Of AAA Arizona

Mike Tully
President and CEO, AAA Arizona

As president and CEO of AAA Arizona, Mike Tully has a keen interest in getting the state back on the road to prosperity. That probably explains why for the past seven years Tully, who joined AAA Arizona in 1998 as chief financial officer, has been a member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s Finance Committee.

“GPEC’s role in our community is critical,” Tully says. “Attracting high-quality jobs to our state improves our health and economic performance, and makes the state a more attractive place for residents, as well as people moving to our beautiful state. As a membership organization representing nearly 800,000 people, AAA has a vested interest in the livelihood of Arizona.”

In addition to Tully’s position on the Finance Committee, AAA Arizona has a representative on the GPEC board of directors. That’s just part of the relationship.

“From a business perspective, we have used GPEC as a resource when we evaluated expansion opportunities, moving a large portion of our California operations to Arizona,” Tully says. “GPEC was invaluable in our ultimate decision, which resulted in nearly 800 new jobs being brought to our state.”
GPEC’s mission to create a competitive, vibrant, diverse and self-sustaining regional economy is critical to all of Arizona’s industries, Tully says.

“Ensuring that Arizona continues to improve the diversity of high-paying quality jobs is more obvious than ever, as seen by our recent recession,” he says. “Our precipitous decline as the No. 1 job growth state to No. 50 is symptomatic of our lack of industry diversity.”

Tully has been instrumental in driving the tremendous growth of AAA over the past decade, including expansion of its membership, financial services, insurance and travel operations. Prior to joining AAA, Tully owned an export finance company that arranged structured trade finance transactions for exporters throughout the United States.

The AAA executive has deep Arizona roots, having earned his Bachelor of Science degree in finance in 1987, and a master’s in business administration in 1991, both from Arizona State University. In 2007, he graduated from the advanced management program at Harvard Business School. Tully also holds a CPA certification.

As for travel trends in Arizona, Tully says the future remains murky.

“Our short-term forecast is flat, although shorter trips and drive trips continue to be popular,” he says. “While business travel is picking up in many areas of the country, it has yet to rebound in the Southwest.”

Likewise, international travel to Arizona continues to be weak, which hurts even more because international travelers generally spend four to five times the amount of money as domestic visitors.

www.aaaaz.com

Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

ATA Profile: Jim Prueter, Senior Vice President of AAA Arizona

Jim Prueter
Senior Vice President, AAA Arizona
www.aaaaz.com

As senior vice president of AAA Arizona, Jim Prueter is part of a company that provides automotive, insurance and travel services to nearly 800,000 Arizona members. He’s no stranger to AAA, having worked as vice president of AAA Mid Atlantic in Philadelphia, and as executive vice president of AAA Chicago Motor Club. But he didn’t get his first taste of the travel industry side of the company until 1998, when he arrived in Arizona.

In his current post, he is responsible for heading up the largest leisure travel agency in Arizona, AAA Travel Agency. In addition, he is the publisher of AAA’s member magazine, Highroads Magazine. With a subscription of nearly half a million, the magazine is the largest in the state. In his various professional affiliations and as current chair of Arizona Tourism Alliance’s board of directors, Prueter recognizes the importance of tourism advocacy efforts.

“It is vitally important that the Arizona travel industry has a voice that is heard by our elected officials, the business community at large and the public. Tourism has a huge economic impact on our state, that is largely unknown, that must be heard,” Prueter says.

The ATA, Prueter says, is a driving force in spreading the message about the enormous impact the travel industry has on the state’s economy.

“The ATA serves as a catalyst and voice for the Arizona tourism industry dedicated to providing advocacy and generating awareness of the industry by providing education and leadership to the industry,” says Prueter. “Over 37 million domestic and international overnight travelers visited our state in 2008, spending some $18.5 billion. That equates to more than $51 million pumped directly into our economy every day. It is the only industry that brings prosperity to all 15 Arizona counties.”

He adds that taxes paid by visitors have a direct and measurable benefit on Arizonans, generating $2.6 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues in 2008.

“The point is, out-of-state visitors spend money that benefits businesses far beyond traditional travel entities. The purchases travelers to Arizona make generate taxes that create tax revenue that fund jobs and public programs, such as police, firefighters, teachers, road projects and convention centers,” Prueter says.

The dismal economy certainly put a strain on the industry, as did the faltering state budget and bad press regarding corporate meetings (Meetings account for more than 70 percent of resort revenues in the state).

To counter this, Prueter encourages individuals to join organizations such as the ATA, the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, the Arizona Restaurant Association, local convention and visitors bureaus and other industry organizations. His goal is to continue to work with the ATA on advocating tourism to all industries. With events such as the Unity Dinner and the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the ATA will continue its efforts on behalf of travel and tourism in Arizona.

Getting the industry back on track will take some time, but Prueter offers this advice: “Don’t sit on the sidelines wringing your hands … Let them know what the economic impact of the Arizona tourism industry means to their business and the positive impacts travel has to the benefit of all Arizonans.”


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

Companies Can Get Better Understanding Of Customer Experiences Through Service Blueprinting

Companies Can Get Better Understanding Of Customer Experiences Through Service Blueprinting

Not too long ago, Mike Tully discovered something important about the perception of time. The AAA Arizona president and others in his organization were not on the same clock as members requesting roadside assistance.

AAA Arizona measured effective responses from the point when its personnel dispatched tow trucks until those trucks actually arrived on the scene. Members started their countdowns from the moment they phoned in for help. Sometimes that meant a difference of eight or nine minutes — something that became abundantly clear when members called back before tow trucks even hit the road.

Fortunately, AAA Arizona and many other businesses are now gaining important customer-experience insights through a technique called “service blueprinting,” which asks organizations to evaluate and improve services by looking at them through the eyes of customers.
The concept of utilizing the customer’s perspective to develop a comprehensive service blueprint dates back several decades to a technique first discussed by G. Lynn Shostack, a one-time Citibank vice president, in the Harvard Business Review. The tool has evolved through the years and, now, has been outlined in great detail by three researchers with ties to Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

“Service Blueprinting: A Practical Technique for Service Innovation,” was published in the California Management Review this past May and co-authored by Mary Jo Bitner, Amy L. Ostrom and Felicia N. Morgan. Bitner is academic director for ASU’s Center for Leadership Services and the PetSmart Chair in Services Leadership at the W.P. Carey School of Business, while Ostrom is an associate marketing professor there. Morgan, a former ASU doctoral student, is an assistant marketing professor at the University of West Florida.

In working with companies, Ostrom says, it became apparent there was a need for an in-depth paper that included case studies of businesses that used blueprinting and realized its value.

“The technique, in a broad sense, is really focused on having people internally within an organization come together to help them really understand what it is they’re offering to the marketplace,” Ostrom says.

The objective is to get a handle on the actual customer experience and look for ways to improve and innovate. It involves mapping everything from face-to-face customer contact to behind-the-scenes support services.

“You end up getting a very, very clear diagram of what the customer’s walking through,” Tully says.

AAA Arizona was able to identify something of an annoyance for customers dealing with different departments. As a company that provides multiple products ranging from insurance to travel assistance, it’s not unusual for members to take care of different needs on a single call. AAA discovered customers were being asked to provide the same membership information each time their call was transferred from one department to another.

The organization now has a vice president who works on tightening up the service encounter for customers, eliminating any unnecessary hoops they’re being asked to jump through.

The benefits of a service blueprint can be wide-ranging. Organizations are able to chart how they provide services to customers, and then compare those findings with competitors’ practices.

“When you’re able to do things that customers value and do them better than your competitors, I think in general, that puts you in a much better situation,” Ostrom says.

Although some companies already make considerable efforts to understand their customers’ needs, oftentimes they don’t quite have a big-picture view of everything customers go through as part of the service experience. Blueprinting provides such insights and may indicate the need for additional research.

And, as Tully suggests, satisfied, happy customers usually deliver stronger profits.

“I clearly think it does contribute to bottom-line performance,” he says.

Blueprinting is not just something for service-oriented businesses.

“Any company can use it because every company, to be honest, tends to be (a) service business when you really think about what they do,” Ostrom says.

A company might not be focused on providing services for external customers, but every company provides internal services.

Developing a comprehensive service blueprint requires collaboration across an entire organization, with input from front-line employees, middle management and senior management.

“This process of bringing people together within the organization that don’t tend to talk to one another normally gives them a picture of what the customer experience is that’s just different than they get through other techniques,” Ostrom says.

Service blueprinting is also flexible and can be modified to address a company’s unique situation. Examples include a business that interfaces exclusively with customers online or one that has to target the needs of different types of customers.

Ostrom has been working with companies on service blueprinting for some time through the Center for Services Leadership. But her first daylong workshop was scheduled in January and future such workshops are in the planning stages.

The full-day format allows Ostrom ample time to offer an overview of the technique and then guide attendees through the modification process.

“We find once people learn the tool and get some exposure to working with it in their own context, that gives them the knowledge they need to go back and start using it more widely within their own organization,” she says.