Turning Aeroplan Points into a Samba Days Experience Gift Box

Collecting airline miles can drive some people right up the wall. This was certainly true for Ottawa residents Carrie-Ann and Jody Jeffrey, who used some of their accumulated Aeroplan points for a rockclimbing lesson at the city’s Coyote Rock Gym in July.

“I had always assumed that we would use our points toward flights and we are saving them to go to Europe next year,” says Carrie-Ann Jeffrey. “Then we saw the number of programs offered with Aeroplan partners – there are tons of different adventures and restaurants and other things.”

“We thought this would be a fun thing to do,” says her kayaker husband, Jody, a web designer with the Canadian Red Cross. “It’s good to get out and put the body to work.”

With instructor Andrew Noel standing by, Jody held the safety ropes in place while his wife scaled the wall on her inaugural climb.

“That was great,” said the 33-year-old mother of two after landing safely. “I’m afraid of heights, so being up that high, you really have to have a lot of trust in your partner.”

The rock-climbing experience is part of Aeroplan’s Samba Days Explore Ontario Gift Box, available for 12,000 miles. Samba Days offers various themed activity packs, each featuring a number of experiences.

“We have several gift boxes in the program,” says Aaron Carr, Aeroplan’s general manager of travel products and services. “It’s really an extension of our activities and experiences category, which is helping us build at-destination experiences for members to enjoy whether they are staying at home or travelling and looking for something to do with their families while they’re away.”

International travel, particularly European destinations, is “really strong” at this time, says Jill Morison, the senior vice-president of rewards for Air Miles. “Another trend, on the back of the strength of the Canadian dollar, is rewards travel to the U.S,” she says. “Cruising is also strong and a full array of cruising is available via Air Miles.”

Susan Bowman, the vicepresident of marketing and supplier relations for Transat Distribution Canada – an Air Miles partner – says that the greatest growth in types of cruises has been in river trips and premium cruising. “Some people reduce the cost of a trip but often trade up for luxury so they can use Air Miles to have an even better experience when travelling.”

Ms. Bowman says customers are increasingly turn-ing from Internet bookings to working with full-service travel agencies, and notes that making arrangements to take a cruise or other trip at an Air Transat travel agency (Marlin Travel, TravelPlus or Club Voyage) is another way to earn Air Miles for the next trip. “Just for coming in to one of our consultants, people earn miles on the vacation they are taking and, later on, can use those miles to travel again. Air Miles is a great program for us to participate in.”

Air Miles is a unique program “in that you earn miles on your everyday purchases across a vast array of sponsoring locations in three ways,” says Ms. Morison. “You earn base miles for your core purchases and, very often, sponsors have certain products in their stores offering bonus miles. Then, if you use an affiliated credit card for your purchase, you can earn miles a third way. We are the largest coalition program since our launch in 1992. We have about 10 million active

Air Miles collector accounts – about two-thirds of the households in Canada.”

WestJet also runs a loyalty program in partnership with MasterCard and the Royal Bank of Canada. The rewards system is based on the amount spent, rather than miles travelled, and the reward is in currency, WestJet dollars, rather than points.

WestJet dollars are collected on an affinity RBC reward card and can be used to make purchases towards flights.

via Consumers use rewards to find adventures, National Post

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