Behind the Scenes of the Transformed Aeroplan

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How do you reinvent a long-standing program with deeply passionate fans? When the ambition is to be the best, the process of envisioning change has to be just as grand. “This has never been done before,” says Mark Nasr, Vice-President of Loyalty and eCommerce at Air Canada. The latest Aeroplan transformation, which rolled out November 8, involved a total brand redesign – conceptualized by Air Canada’s in-house creative team that knew the strategy most intimately – as well as consumer research that went “deep and wide.”

Over 20 months, members of the in-house team listened to 36,000 consumers from around the world. They engaged in a type of research called ethnography, sitting down with people in their homes to see how they planned travel and venturing through airports. Nasr recalls an anecdote with one participant that showed how opinionated people are about loyalty programs: “His mother was not part of the research, but when she overheard the conversations the interviewers were having, she decided to join – and proceeded to share a few hours of advice.”

November 9, 2020
An illustration of luggage in front of an airport window overlooking the fin of a parked Air Canada plane

In developing the transformed Aeroplan, “we started with only two things. One, our CEO told me, ‘Show us what the best travel loyalty program in the world looks like,’” says Nasr, noting that they hadn’t committed to making the ideas a reality at that point. “And two, we wanted a program that would appeal to all of Air Canada’s customers. Everything else was informed by research.”

Notably, the listening, building and designing phases overlapped, so concepts could go back in the cycle for feedback. Recurring themes came through loud and clear: the importance of family and close friends in loyalty decisions directly inspired new features, including Aeroplan Family Sharing. Up to eight family members can now earn and redeem points in a shared plan, and collectively get preferred pricing if anyone in the group is an Elite Status Member or primary Aeroplan credit cardholder.

“Our Family Sharing feature is the most generous of its type anywhere in the world. I’m not just talking about airline programs, but broader loyalty.”

“Our Family Sharing feature is the most generous of its type anywhere in the world. I’m not just talking about airline programs, but broader loyalty,” says Nasr. “And it’s extremely expensive for us to provide.” But in the research process, the concept proved a hit: “We listened, then designed, then prototyped. In some cases it was a slam dunk and in others it was a total flop. We kept the slam dunks and dropped the flops. When we got it right, people said, ‘This is something I’ve always wanted,’ or ‘It’s fair – this is the right thing to do.’”

The research process also involved checking out both the direct and indirect competition. “We knew some of the best loyalty experiences out there weren’t even in travel,” Nasr says. They benchmarked against more than 40 programs in a half-dozen countries, looking at other airlines, hotels, proprietary credit cards and retail. “We figured out exactly how they worked, spoke to members and learned from them.”

All the time and effort it took to transform Aeroplan has created what Air Canada proudly considers the most beneficial loyalty program in the country. “There is no program in Canada that has a higher rate of reward,” says Nasr. “We’re very excited to be able to offer it.”

Air Canada flight information on a mobile device with an Aeroplan loyalty card

Five Great Reasons to Be Part of Aeroplan

  • No More Cash Surcharges Redeeming for a flight reward won’t require paying extra out of pocket – potentially saving you hundreds of dollars.

  • More and Better Ways to Earn Points Collect points on every Air Canada® flight you book in cash on aircanada.com or the official app, no matter what the fare class.

  • Aeroplan Family Sharing Up to eight family members can earn points together – and reach rewards faster – for free.

  • Flight Rewards, Simplified No restrictions or blackout periods. If there’s a seat available on an Air Canada flight, you can book it with points.

  • New Aeroplan Elite™ Status The benefits of being loyal include preferred pricing on flight rewards, complimentary checked baggage and much more. Plus, you can upgrade a friend’s travel experience with a Status Pass – an industry first.

 

For full details on all the new Aeroplan features, visit aircanada.com/aeroplan.

3 Ways to Get the Most from Your Points

  1. Redeem for flights your way. Don’t have quite enough points to book a ticket? You have the flexibility to use Points + Cash.

  2. Get extra perks with ease. Members will be able to use their Aeroplan points for popular extras, such as in-flight Wi-Fi or upgrading to a higher cabin class.

  3. Use your points far away, or close to home. Beyond travel rewards, you can redeem for everyday shopping, entertainment and much more.

The nose of an Air Canada plane

Behind Aeroplan’s Fresh New Look

Andy Shibata, Managing Director, Brand

  • What inspired Aeroplan’s new brand identity? “Fully designed by Air Canada’s in-house creative team, we took cues from the program, which is modern and progressive. Even though Aeroplan is a brand with over 35 years of rich history, we had the opportunity to really inject a new energy.”

  • How did you translate that in the logo? “With Aeroplan being brought into the Air Canada ecosystem, we wanted to make sure people understood the connection. You will see familiar elements like the maple leaf, or rondelle, and the design of the “E” is composed of three “masks,” referencing the front of our planes.”

An illustration of the newly redesigned Aeroplan credit card in black and grey

Earning Faster is in the Cards

  • Preferred Rates When making Air Canada purchases, you will collect points at a higher rate. Plus, you will redeem flight rewards at lower rates, using fewer points.

  • Elite Status You will earn Status Qualifying Miles and Segments just by making eligible everyday purchases on an eligible card.

  • Shareable Perks Eligible secondary cardholders will now enjoy a free first checked bag, lounge access and priority airport benefits when travelling on their own.

 

Learn more about Aeroplan’s upgraded credit card benefits at aircanada.com/cards.

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