By AAA of Western and Central New York
AAA Western and Central New York immediately felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the travel business line. Initially, travelers chose alternate destinations, then some were anxious to return home, and now many are disappointed over having to postpone trips, even within the U.S.
“We went from full speed ahead to putting on the brakes,” explained Carol DiOrio, vice president of travel at AAA Western and Central New York. “Right now, we are seeing a pent-up demand for travel with travelers postponing, rather than canceling, trips and booking future vacations with a positive outlook.”
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 100% of non-essential employees must work from home, AAA’s IT department worked around-the-clock to transfer work stations to homes and set associates up with tools to work remotely.
AAA emergency roadside service and auto repair are considered essential. After all, doctors, nurses and essential workers need to get to and from work safely in good working vehicles, and consumers often rely on AAA during a breakdown, even if that’s a trip to the store or pharmacy.
AAA has advised all associates who continue to work outside the home to practice social distancing, and extra safeguards are in place. For instance, at AAA Car Care Plus in Clarence, the waiting room and restrooms are not open to the public. AAA technicians take precautions to sanitize vehicles before and after service.
While AAA Western and Central New York is facing financial challenges like most other companies, leadership is doing everything possible to protect associates and to provide peace of mind. President and CEO Tony Spada announced all active associates will continue to work and be paid through May 2.
“Throughout this pandemic, we want our associates and their families to be safe and healthy, and that includes their financial well-being,” he said. “By supporting our workforce, we are making an investment in our future as our associates are our most important asset.”
“Luckily, we have the technology to keep our operations up and running even if our physical Travel & Insurance Centers are closed,” said Susan Was, vice president of human resources at AAA. “Associates continue to service our members, and any available time is spent on training initiatives to educate our workforce and prepare them for the future.”
Business leaders continue to analyze and evaluate the situation with hopes the pandemic will be resolved in coming weeks. One area that has not been negatively impacted is the insurance division, which offers home, auto, life, renters, commercial and pet coverage.
“Our associates have the ability to provide quotes and issue policies over the phone or via email,” said David Hodge, vice president of insurance. “It’s business as usual, and we’ve seen a lot of people taking time to review their policies with more spare time on their hands.”
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.