AAA iPhone app maps out route for member discounts

AAA launched its first iPhone application on April 21, paving the way for more applications from the automotive organization.

Company: AAA
PR team: In-house
Campaign: AAA Discounts iPhone App launch
Duration: April-ongoing
Budget: Approximately $10,000

AAA launched its first iPhone application on April 21, paving the way for more applications from the automotive organization. Using GPS, the free app finds nearby stores and other businesses offering discounts to AAA members. “This is very timely in the current economy,” says PR manager Heather Hunter.

Strategy
To launch the application, the in-house team decided to use a combination of traditional and social media tactics. Part of the “Show Your Card and Save” program, the iPhone application fits into the company's messaging about making AAA members aware of the other, non-travel-specific benefits the organization offers. “The AAA is so much more than roadside service,” Hunter says. “We want to communicate to our members the benefits we have.”

Tactics
AAA pitched lifestyle, travel, and personal finance media and blogs. “We also used social media to complement that strategy and that proved to be really successful,” Hunter says. AAA used its TravelViews blog to make the announcement of the application, and included information on how to download and use it. The organization is also on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, driving interested consumers back to its Web site.

Results
AAA's Discounts iPhone app made it to the top 20 free lifestyle applications in the iTunes store, and between April and July 27, more than 500,000 consumers had downloaded the application. There were more than 900 mentions in social media, Hunter says. “It was much more successful than we expected in such a short time,” she adds.

Future
AAA plans to release more iPhone applications; the next version will focus on roadside assistance. “Eventually,” Hunter says, “we'd like to have ones on our travel information, like our diamond ratings.”

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