Parkland and Air Canada 2024 Loyalty Expo Session: Forming Strategic Partnerships for Acquisition and Delivering Increased Benefits for Rewards Members

Parkland is an international fuel distributor, convenience retailer, and fuel supply and refinery company operating in 23 countries, including Canada, the United States, and countries in the Caribbean and South America. From a loyalty perspective, the Canadian market is the most established and mature. The brand’s Journie™ Rewards program provides savings to members across Canada, and Parkland recently launched the program in Puerto Rico.
Parkland is scheduled to present alongside Air Canada/Aeroplan at this year’s Loyalty Expo, held June 4-6 in Orlando, FL. Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Michael McDowell, Vice President of Loyalty and Partnerships at Parkland, about the upcoming presentation, ensuring a seamless experience for members when programs are connected through partnerships, and what attendees will learn from Parkland’s and Air Canada’s joint presentation.

Parkland formed a partnership with Air Canada’s Aeroplan® at the end of 2023. Can you tell our listeners what made this partnership attractive to both organizations? 
McDowell: Parkland was seeking established programs to help accelerate member acquisition. It’s a very competitive market in Canada from a fuel perspective, and we look for ways we can extend our Journie™ Rewards program reach, our value proposition, and our customer experience. Partnerships are a great way for us to do that.
Aeroplan is the most established airline program in Canada—one of the biggest programs in the country with the largest membership. Overall, in an airline program, there is very low frequency; at most, an airline program experiences mid-frequency. Top travelers will bring a higher frequency. Aeroplan sought partners that could help drive everyday earn and redemption options that would appeal to their members.
Aeroplan’s members listed fuel as one of their top choices for earning points and receiving benefits. For Parkland, it was a perfect match because we brought a great value proposition with coverage across Canada. This was a great program to extend to Aeroplan members.
Since the partnership launch in November, Aeroplan has seen an increase in its redemption numbers and engagement. The average membership shows more engagement where redemption activities and more high-frequency earn opportunities have appeared.
For Parkland, it’s accelerated our acquisition. We’ve also taken a share from our competition in Canada by having Aeroplan customers choose our sites because of the opportunity to earn in Aeroplan. Both programs are linked to earn even more.
What key elements were in place or implemented to ensure a seamless experience for loyalty program members of both brands as Parkland and Aeroplan came together?  
McDowell: Parkland doesn’t compete with Aeroplan or any of its existing partners—and vice versa—so the situation that presented itself was ideal. We didn’t have an airline partner.
Aeroplan also partners with Starbucks and Uber, two of its higher-frequency partners. Adding Parkland to that group gave them a different retail experience and an opportunity to provide more for Aeroplan members through our C-store and fuel retail partners.
Parkland provides the value of fuel savings. Look at any consumer report—we’re in high inflationary times, experiencing a high cost of living. Grocery and fuel/gas are the two things that consumers are looking to save a buck on. Parkland was a perfect fit.
The other piece is Aeroplan was interested in using their marketing channels to drive our program, and we were very interested and willing to use our marketing channels to drive theirs.
The mutual benefit and the lack of one program pushing ahead of the other—which you see frequently in loyalty partnerships where one program overreaches the other—have added to the partnership’s success. The synergies between our operations and the marketing muscles that both of us are flexing promote both of our programs equally.
Who would most benefit from attending the Parkland/Air Canada session at the Expo? 
McDowell: Matt Hall is the Head of Loyalty Planning and Development at Air Canada, and he’ll represent the Aeroplan program during the presentation at the Loyalty Expo.
We’ll discuss how our two programs came together. We’ll go into more detail about what we talked about today—the things to look for when considering partnerships and not just the obvious, like a demand for fuel rewards or access to a large and well-established program.
We’ll look at the finer details that we ironed out early in the negotiation and commercial agreement phase that helped us understand how to find synergies across all points.
For example, we’ll discuss the integration of technology—how did that work? How could we emphasize the importance of a great customer experience for both Journie™ Rewards members and Aeroplan members when integrated? Much of Parkland’s business is on-site at the gas station, so Aeroplan focused on what it was going to feel like for its customers—what’s the experience?
We’ll review elements that are important to ensure you have a successful partnership that goes beyond the financials of exchanging points and rewards or the operations of how you’ll work together. Many components become important as you get further into the partnership. We’ll also talk about the customer response, which is backed up by the data we’re seeing regarding incrementality increasing in the program.
Please visit to learn more about Loyalty360’s upcoming Loyalty Expo, including details on the event agenda and how to register.

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