I remember seeing one of these places called an “Avion Holiday Boutique” while I was in a mall last year. From the outside it looked extremely fancy. While it got my attention, I assumed that it was simply some kind of private club event for specific people and so I never bothered to go inside see what it was all about. Funny enough, this year I was given the opportunity to be an “Avion VIP” for a day that would give me access to this boutique and to tell you all what it is about.
As you may notice, this boutique is organized by RBC and it is designed for people who have one of its Visa based Avion credit cards. So for me, I am always interested in learning about finance related resources. As well, since this is a credit card I thought it would be interesting to find out the perks and benefits of this card. For your reference, you can learn more details about this at the official site at http://www.rbc.com/avionvip
These were the locations:
Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby
Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto
Halifax Shopping Centre in Halifax
St. Laurent Centre in Ottawa
As mentioned in its literatures, the boutique offers the following perks:
Valet parking (at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto ONLY)
Coat and parcel check
VIP lounge and café
Gift wrapping service
Services available at the Avion Holiday Experiences:
Gift wrapping voucher at in-mall gift wrap centre
Snacks and beverages
A festive holiday gift
I personally visited the Avion Holiday Boutique that is located in Metropolis Metrotown in Burnaby BC.
Upon first impression it did seem like something that was very lavish. You are greeted as if this is like entering into some five star hotel where inside there are options to do things such as coat checks while getting free snacks and refreshments. To enter, you would normally need an RBC Avion Visa card. I was given this pass as my entry to see what this place was all about.
Immediately upon entering there is a café where you can get free snacks and drinks. Financially this could be very beneficial if you are one to go to the malls a lot as the price of drinks and snacks are usually always ridiculous I find. A small cup of tea can easily be almost two dollars and things like a cookie or bag of potato chip is usually a dollar as well. Add that up if you are visiting with friends and family and that small total can really add up.
There seemed to be a lot of reward items on display to show what people can get with the card’s reward plan as well.
The busiest service at this location seemed to be the gift wrapping service where members who buy items at the mall can get their gifts wrapped for free. Another good way to save money.
I decided to go in the lounge to get a feel for the whole atmosphere while seeing if there were any people to mingle with. Cause for me, I am here not only to learn about the venue but how actual customers feel about the financial service itself.
As you would expect, everything was very Christmas themed oriented due to the holidays. The color design scheme introduced a funny blunder while I was there. There was a lady that came in and attempted to sit down on this chair as you can see here:
As she walked straight ahead and sat down she had this peculiar face as she felt the chair was awkward and uncomfortable. What had happened was she wasn’t really paying too much attention and simply sat down on that small table which she thought was the chair. She was told afterwards and everyone had a good laugh.
I got to observe the general demographic of clients for this card and for the most part it seemed like it was geared towards professionals. I rarely saw a younger demographic such as college students as an example which made me wonder if this card is simply for the rich as they say. So it made me want to learn more where a person like me usually wants the best value for my money as opposed to the aura of having something expensive and luxurious.
I was talking to a lady who has been a customer for a very long time where she actually visited this boutique in a different location. I was aware that there were different types of Avion cards and so I asked her which one she used. Her reaction was kind of interesting as she said she just has the normal one and not the higher end one. This would usually imply to me that the annual fee can be considered pretty high. As you can see for comparison sake, depending on which card you get it could range from $120 to $399 a year. So I guess you can kind of see why like a student would be discouraged over this card.
I then asked if she was here at the mall to do some Christmas shopping. Surprisingly, she said no as she was simply there with her mom as a way to spend time while enjoying the free café and lounge. There were a lot of other malls that were actually closer to where she lives, but for this person this Avion Holiday Boutique was good enough to get her to come to this mall instead.
That kind of shows how much she valued a service like this from a credit card company I thought. She even mentioned herself that no other bank that offers a credit card service has done things like this. So to her, things like the fees pay for itself through the perks and benefits that you get which you can’t get anywhere else.
As a further example, I know holiday shopping can get hectic in a crowded mall. Another big group of people I noticed that came in here were families with children. They could come in this lounge with their strollers and all to relax in a comfy space. Usually parents would have to sit at like a crowded food court that probably isn’t as ideal if you have like fussy children. So this in a sense gives you more of a home type of comfort while at the mall. So I guess like there, would you feel the value in having something like this more than pays for the annual fee?
I did ask one of the employees there too and his general thoughts were that this card pays for itself if you do things like a lot of traveling. At the same time, he suggested to me that this card is probably ideal for those who charge about $1000 a month on it. In an un-optimized spending example, I used an example if you were to use your points for an airline ticket. In this case, you get 15,000 points and every every 100 points equals $1 for this airline. So with the lowest Avion card you basically come out ahead for the first year regardless. Assuming you don’t take advantage of any other perks or benefits like this Avion Holiday Boutique, then the $1000 a month kind of fits in-line with the annual fee. Again though, I can’t really put a price on things like peace of mind while at a mall as everyone is different. Although, I do know if you are a frequent visitor then the fees you may have paid as a result of not having this service could be more.
Just for your information too, I was reading before that this lounge was supposed to offer free Wi-Fi and charging stations for people. I was confused as I didn’t see like a charging station at first. I even saw one couple who was expressing the same as they looked at the official site to see the same. One guy then started to look around all over for like an outlet with no luck. Just for the record, I asked about this and you have to apparently ask the person at the front desk to give you one of these chargers.
The Wi-Fi is definitely there too and you have to ask for the password.
My final task was to try out what seemed to be the busiest feature of this lounge which was the gift wrapping service. There was apparently an app you could download too for this where it would do things such as alert you when your gift was ready to be picked up.
The employee was very polite and professional as she took the time to explain the whole process. In a nutshell, you would enter your details on the screen where you could also choose things like the type of giftwrap to be used. For the gift to wrap I decided to give her this Super Mario Maker game which is a present for my nephew.
I even told her the game cost like $1000+ at some places as you can see here:
Of course I am not that crazy to pay that price if you are all wondering. I was then told it would take about an hour and half to get it wrapped as they had a lot of stuff as you can see. So, I proceeded to go to the mall and look at other things as if I was a regular shopper.
I actually walked around to see that the actually had mini lounges in the mall as well. Here, people could inquire about the actual lounge and get things like free cookies and chips.
This was funny as for some odd reason when I went there to take some pictures and to talk with the staff for some reason more people in the public gathered wanting some free cookies and all. Even the staff member was telling me that was oddly coincidental. I kind of felt bad as they will probably run out of offerings fast and so I mostly just took the photos and was on my way.
Eventually, I went back to the lounge to retrieve the wrapped gift. This was the result:
I was actually surprised they gave people a free bag too. Even more things to add to the list in terms of money saving benefits. With that, my visit to the RBC Avion holiday Boutique was complete.
So what did I learn overall? This venue was kind of a good way to show that for this bank they are trying to think of ways to make people’s lifestyle easier where the value of its services can be more than just money itself. Sure, like with this Holiday Boutique you can save a lot of money with café and gift wrapping services, but the real benefit I feel is the peace of mind and convenience of having like person VIP service at a mall. So for all you Avion cardholders you should definitely take advantage of this free perk. Something to think about too for people who don’t have this credit on whether or not the benefits can actually save you more money. There are actually people there to answer all your questions about the card itself too if you were thinking of signing up. That is just incase you had a mindset like me before where the place simply looked intimating where it seems like they only want cardholders to even get near the space. A note too, you can even go in as a guest and enjoy the offerings if someone you know has a card.
Disclosure: I am part of the RBC® Avion Holiday Boutique Influencer Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.