Carlson Marketing to Be Sold to Canadian Groupe Aeroplan

Groupe Aeroplan Inc., an international loyalty-management corporation headquartered in Montréal, has entered into an agreement with Carlson Companies Inc. to purchase its loyalty-marketing division, Carlson Marketing.

Carlson Marketing planned 729 meetings and 385 incentive travel programs in 2008, counting it among the largest meeting-management companies in the United States.

The purchase, expected to close in December, will extend Groupe Aeroplan’s footprint into the United States, and expand its presence around the world. However, Carlson Marketing will continue to operate independently out of its headquarters in Minneapolis and its offices in 14 countries. Groupe Aeroplan currently owns Aeroplan in Canada, LMG Insight & Communication and Nectar in the United Kingdom, and a 60 percent stake in Dubai-based Rewards Management Middle East.

Carlson Marketing President and CEO Jeff Balagna and Fay Beauchine, president, engagement and events, will continue in their roles, and no staffing changes are planned as a result of the acquisition, according to Barry Wegener, senior director, marketing and communications.

Wegener does not predict any change in business emphasis due to the sale, but remarks that Aeroplan and Carlson Marketing can learn from one another. Aeroplan, he says, is especially experienced with “coalition” programs, in which loyalty points can be earned from and redeemed at a variety of companies. Carlson Marketing, he says, has earned its reputation for creating loyalty programs around individual companies.