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Spring 2004
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AAA's Internet TripTik Makes Getting Detailed Directions Faster

As a safety-conscious organization, the American Automobile Association (AAA) advocates driver training, consistent car maintenance, and security for drivers and pedestrians. In fact, AAA has dedicated much focused effort on the positive effects of safe driving including reduced insurance costs, improved mileage, and a better overall driving experience. The last thing it would do is promote increased speed as a way to save time.

  click to enlarge
Internet TripTik Overview map showing a full route plus the corresponding narrative information.

However, AAA works hard to save its members time in other ways. One program it uses is the customized routing maps it offers for trip planning, which they've provided to members under the trademarked name "TripTik" since 1932.

For those unfamiliar with the service, TripTik is a personalized, hand-plotted routing for any destination in the United States or Canada. Offered to AAA members free of charge, it gives a clearly marked path to follow and contains valuable information about mileage and driving time, as well as gas, food, lodging, construction, and detours, potentially saving drivers a great deal of time.

An ArcIMS-based online version of the popular service, Internet TripTik (, was first made available to AAA members in the winter of 2000 to provide them with an online driving direction service.

Since then, however, the site has continually improved its functionality and has become increasingly popular among the association's 46 million members. This is one area in which the association's position is that faster is better.

According to Ramin Kalhor, AAA's director of GIS Development and Support, Internet TripTik's average response time used to be six to nine seconds, and now it's in the two- to three-second range. "That's as much as 300 percent improvement," says Kalhor. "So far this year we have seen a 30 percent increase in Internet TripTik requests over the same period last year."

Kalhor attributes the faster response time to a variety of improvements. "Esri advised us on how best to handle the data with ArcSDE and display it in ArcIMS," he says. "Another factor was upgraded hardware and software, so there's enhanced performance from that. In addition, we installed a new database, which was Oracle.

"Although there is some temptation to compare it to other Internet direction sites, it really is a different tool. First of all we are able to show all the AAA-rated points of interest (POIs). Hotels, restaurants, places where AAA members can show their cards and save, approved auto repair shops, AAA offices, and events are all routable points on the service. There is additional information available about the points of interest. And we keep adding to this list."

The depth of information and travel services that AAA is able to link to its POIs in the Internet TripTik come from years of researching and rating these places for its publications such as the TourBooks it has published for more than 90 years. For instance, by clicking on a hotel icon, a member can see the AAA "Diamond" rating and information about the hotel and immediately make online reservations with AAA's exclusive discount rates. For tourist attractions, users can view helpful information such as phone numbers, hours of operation, and price of admission.

"We also have information about detours and construction along the route," adds Kalhor. "We have bridge and ferry information including ferry schedules, winter closures, and scenic road information including a detailed description."

In fact, Internet TripTik's ability to save its users significant drive time by pointing out construction sites and available ferries was cited by a July 2002 Wall Street Journal article. In the article "Planning That Road Trip Online May Be Trickier Than You Think" (Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2002), AAA was rated "Top Choice" in a comparison of five routing products.

"Internet TripTik also has some functional features that set it apart from other Internet direction sites," explains Kalhor. "It provides the ability to pan and zoom the map as you would in ArcGIS Desktop. TripTik itself is a big part of the AAA member service program. The TripTik brand is not just limited to the Internet TripTik. Many clubs still provide the traditional manual version that you can get from walking in the office. Internet TripTik is really a new format or method of delivery of this product that we've had for many, many years."

In addition to supporting the launch of the Internet TripTik application in 2000, Esri has been assisting AAA with its digital mapmaking needs since 1997—and it produces more than 39 million maps each year.

For more information, contact Ramin Kalhor (tel.: 407-444-8177, e-mail: or visit

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