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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Event Review: Sneak peek at Air Canada’s transformed loyalty program event in Montreal [Guest post]

 

Today we welcome a new contributor to Rewards Canada as we collaborate with Anshul Singh of Points, Miles & Bling.  Based in Ottawa, Anshul is well known in the Canadian points and miles circuit hosting weekly virtual points & miles events, having presented at PointsU and much more. His first contribution to Rewards Canada is a look back at Air Canada's event this past July announcing the new Aeroplan program. The timing for this post was perfect as Rewards Canada was not able to attend this event in Montreal. We look forward to more collab's with Anshul! Now here's his recap of the event:

Having waited over a year for details on the new Aeroplan program, I was excited to receive an invitation from Air Canada, for a sneak peak into the new Aeroplan program. Without hesitation, I confirmed my availability for the media event, which was held in Montreal on July 29th, 2020. The event was to host a group of up to 20-25 people, including AC folks, in Montreal.

The day of the event started with a scheduled pickup at the hotel. In keeping with strict COVID guidelines, each guest was provided with a separate car and brought to the event venue. In fact, the Health and Safety guidelines for the event were shared in advance:

Health and Safety
“Please note that all attendees must wear masks/face coverings throughout all indoor areas as mandated by the province of Quebec. Masks will be available at the event, however please ensure you have your own upon arrival to the venue. Upon registration we are pleased to provide you with your own Air Canada CleanCare+ kit which contains hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes, and a face covering.
 
With an abundance of caution, the presentation will take place in a tented outdoor area at L’espace Canal with physical distancing seating arrangements in place. Masks may be removed while eating or drinking.”

The venue L’Espace Canal, is a chic urban space with waterfront terrace, which made for a picturesque setting to this marquee event. Once at the venue, I followed the Air Canada signs through the building to access the event space in the rear of the building.  Air Canada event staff was on site to guide me to the terrace for the presentation. Upon registration, I was handed a welcome package in an Air Canada bag which included AC cloth masks, a CleanCare+ kit (hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes, bottle of water), name tag, AC branded pen and book! With registration completed, I was able to network and chit-chat with AC staff and other guests arriving at the venue - Masks on!




The Agenda for the day was presented as following;

Agenda
10:00 – Arrival and Registration
11:00 – Session begins
12:45 – Lunch
17:00 – Session concludes
The presentation area (media tent) on the terrace was setup with physical distancing in mind, including the snacks and coffee section which was managed by the venue staff, who helped serve the items on hand:


The sessions were led by senior Air Canada executives, Mark Nasr, VP – Loyalty and eCommerce, and Scott O’Leary, Managing Director – Loyalty Planning and Development. Before they did that, the attendees were instructed to keep their phones and recording devices in a sealed envelope (provided with the welcome package), while AC staff came around to make sure that was happening. What?! This was the first indication that this was going to be a special presentation and not just a bullet points of takeaways. It became pretty evident that this was no run of the mill media event, since the Air Canada team not only showcased the new Aeroplan program, but they were also keen to hear first reactions from the group. The conversations were candid, and feedback was genuine. Mark and Scott did not shy away from any uncomfortable conversations, including current program shortcomings, and even disclosing some of the rationale behind the final decisions that went into features of the new program.

Having led us in a deep dive of new brand, and flight rewards, our minds soaked with exciting new information, the AC team had one more trick up their sleeves. As the scheduled lunch rolled up, I chuckled at the sight of venue staff pushing Air Canada food trolley towards us. Lunch included AC Signature Class boxed meals, with 2 main options, Chicken Curry, and Vegetarian Lasagna. Chef Antonio Park himself was in attendance, who shared the sustainable food sourcing vision at Air Canada, specifically the need to engage with Canadian food providers, in a COVID stressed global food supply chain. 

Currently, for flights departing Canada, an all-inclusive pre-packaged meal box crafted by Chef David Hawksworth on flights to Europe and Israel, Chef Antonio Park on flights to Asia, and Chef Vikram Vij on flights from Canada to India - feature a hot main course, salad, dessert and packaged bread.



  • Salmon and Apple mix, rocket tomato salad, Olive balsamic vinegar
  • Curried Chicken and wild rice
  • Oka, medium Cheddar, Brie, crackers, fruit

, 
  • Caramel Custard
  • Prawn, mango and avocado salad, honey and chili vinaigrette
  • Grilled eggplant and zucchini lasagna, tomato sauce 
  • Oka, medium Cheddar, Brie, crackers, fruit


  • Lemon tart

Post-lunch sessions were equally engaging as we discussed the nuts and bolts of new AC status, family account, priority rewards, and the suite of credit card perks . If you haven’t read about the details of the new AP program yet, I recommend the following;

 
 
I realized how immersed I was throughout the seven hours, when the closing comments for the event sneaked up on me. The sessions were truly engaging, and a reaction inducing affair. Far from your typical ‘media event’, the 7 hours seemed short, and my mind was rushing with scenario based examples and questions. The only thing that would make it better, if they allowed us access to the new portal and let us play in that sand box for another 7 hours☺. The world is not perfect, but this media event nearly was. 

Be sure to check out Points, Miles & Bling!

 
All images courtesy of Anshul Singh except the title image courtesy of Aeroplan

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