The event was being held at Airship 37, a cool venue in its own right on the edge of downtown Toronto. Outside of the main entrance there were displays of some the Aeroplan merchandise rewards for the outdoors and a Fiat from Avis to highlight their partnership with Aeroplan.
As you enter into the first room of Airship 37 was set up somewhat like a airport departure lounge with continuous 'airport' announcements running on the sound system. There were also displays from Air Canada showcasing the past and present as AC celebrates their 75th Anniversary.
The second room had merchandise and experiential rewards grouped into regions like Paris and San Francisco. Rewards that could be seen ranged from Kate Spade and Burberry bags to a display of their experiential reward from Essence Workshop in Montreal where you can redeem miles to create your own fragrance (starts at 16,500 miles). Other items included Me to We Jewellery created by Masaii Mamas (employing Kenyan moms!), guitars signed by whole slew of Canadian artists and bands, another one signed by Nickleback and a framed and signed photo of past Toronto Maple Leaf captains all available to Aeroplan members. According to Aeroplan, 25% of miles redeemed are now for non-travel rewards from their merchandise and experiential rewards catalogs. Some of the most popular rewards that members have been redeeming for include helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon and Napa Valley Wine Tours.
There was also frequent break dancing exhibitions from Unity Charity, one of the charities benefiting from the Aeroplan Beyond Miles program. The charity helps impact the lives of youth across Canada and their goal is to raise 500,000 Aeroplan Miles so they can go across Canada to help youth become role models and leaders in their communities. If they reach 90% of the goal, Aeroplan will the donate the rest.
The highlight of my visit was sitting down with David Klein the VP of Marketing & Innovation for Aeroplan. We spent an hour talking about the ins and outs of Aeroplan, the benefits to members, the challenges the program has, current status of earning and burning Aeroplan miles and future enhancements to the program. Often one forgets the challenges seen by programs in running such a large program but the general consensus with most Aeroplan members is that they like what the program is doing in areas such as adding many more 'coalition' partners to earn miles with despite the many complaints seen about the lack of award ticket availability and the sliding scale ClassicPlus flights seen on the redemption side. One thing that many Aeroplan members don't know about as was pointed out by David is that because of the sliding scale of ClassicPlus flights some award flights to Europe this past summer actually priced out less than Classic flights because of the ultra competitive pricing seen on Transatlantic flights. I guess that the takes away the original wording of the program stating the ClassicPlus flights start at a 30% premium above Classic flights.
For the future they are constantly working on new technology and enhancements including one that may be seen soon to make searching and/or finding award flights easier than it is now. One item they are always working to make even better is their Aeroplan app and don't worry non-Apple users you should see an Aeroplan app soon as well.
All in all it was great to make it out to this years Aeroplan Media Day to learn more about the program and what they are planning for the future.