Does Aeroplan have a brand plan?

29 Oct

Aeroplan logo to read Aeropain

Hurricane Sandy looks set to do further damage to Aeroplan, Air Canada’s frequent flyer loyalty program.

As Sandy plays havoc with travellers’s plans, the subsidiary is going to be taxed to the max to keep customers happy. I don’t like their chances of success.

Already the social media scene is alive with complaints such as this one:

Derek Riedle versus Aeroplan on Facebook


But this is nothing new. Check out this spirited customer rant from 2009. It seems that, fundamentally, nothing has changed. What’s the real issue here?

In a word, smug complacency. Ok that’s two words.

Aeroplan has no pressing need to have rockstar customer experience because of the lack of established competition. Very dangerous for a brand.

Customers have short tempers and long memories and when fledgling brands like RBC Avion finally get some traction, the verdict on Aeroplan will be uncompromising.

The Brand Interventionist Recommends

* Changes at the top. The Chinese have a saying: The fish rots from the head down. If the current leadership can’t right this stinking ship, maybe it’s time for change.

* Fess up. There’s really no point in pretending that everything is fine and dandy. A public mea culpa, followed by a clearly defined new customer/brand touchpoint strategy will be well-received. The public likes to give a business a second chance when it admits where it’s let them down. Failure to do so will just be taken as indifference.

* Immediately improve feedback channels. The biggest gripes seem to be customer service in nature, namely: poor feedback channels and rude staff. Improve the former, sack the latter. Since natural disasters are going to happen, a disaster strategy should be in place, with a significant ramping up of resources to deal with the increase in customer issues. Fast response, empathetic staff and maximum flexibility to resolve issues promptly will win advocates.

I predict the next few days will be among the worst ever for Aeroplan, and certainly dismal for its customers.

Perhaps this ill wind will blow some good.


4 Responses to “Does Aeroplan have a brand plan?”

  1. JP October 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    My wife and I can’t stand using Aeroplan either. Having a family of three ensures that almost every time we need to use our points, and trust me when I say we have a ton of them, they never have enough regular miles for us. We need to always use the Aeroplan Classicplus Points which are not redeemable at 100% face value. They go down in value by around 25%, it’s brutal. The tough part is trying to decouple our Aeroplan from mine, my wife’s, and my business credit cards. #gotcha! The issue is that the company is extremely profitable and no longer part of AC and Avion has “miles” to go to catch up and I haven’t seen them even making a dent after many years in market. Aeroplan is number one and Air Miles is number two, Avion is a distant number three.

    • Doug Brown October 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      JP, I wonder if you were also a lucky participant in the their “Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em” points promotion from last year. As I was unable to travel during the time, I lost ’em.

      I appreciate that some people, like yourself, soldier on for lack of a suitable alternative. Sorry to hear about your hard luck experience with them. The devaluation of your Classicplus points is brutal.

  2. Chris Burdge (@b_WEST) October 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    Guess I’ve had my head in the proverbial sand. I’ve had a RBC Card for about 20 years, before it was called Avion – can’t remember what it was back then. Anyway, it works for me. I put everything on the card and about once a year or so the family gets a free flight somewhere.

    In terms of airline CS – we went to Australia on Qantas last year and I was excited as I’d heard lots of great things about them. The return trip went from a scheduled 24 flight to 58 hours of hell with family in tow. I captured an interesting exchange with their ‘customer service’ person on my iPhone and after tweeting that they contacted me and offered a refund + a bunch of miles that I’ll never use. Brutal. I guess it depends who you get. The training doesn’t ‘take’ for everyone…

    • Doug Brown October 31, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      You had them by the short and curlies Chris. But if you didn’t have the incriminating video evidence, it’s doubtful they would have laid out the booty for you. Sad. But great that you had the stones to pull out your iPhone and catch the moment!

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