Earlier this week, the Rs 2,182-crore PVR Cinemas, the country’s largest multiplex chain, launched a loyalty programme across 600 screens. Ajay Bijli, chairman, PVR Cinemas, spoke to Vanita Kohli-Khandekar on the hows and whys. Edited excerpts:
It would seem that as a multiplex chain, PVR would have taken to loyalty programmes much earlier. Why now?
We have looked at it several times. And even benchmarked with AMC, Regal
(some of the larger US/global chains). Nobody had a good programme. Then we started looking at airlines, hotels, started talking to our customers. We looked at companies
and checked what percentage they give back as points. We cherry picked ideas from hotels, airlines, from Starbucks…. This whole process took us a couple of years and now we have come up with a programme that tracks audiences by habits, movies, shows, seats they choose and a whole lot of things.
What kind of increase in walk-ins and other targets have you set for the programme?
We ran a pilot for six months without any advertising, with just an icon on our app and the response has been positive. We got 26,000 members. The programme is essentially free — you pay a Rs 300 activation fee in lieu of which you get food vouchers for the same amount. Then you collect points. In the first phase, we hope to return five per cent through points to our patrons. As the base builds up, we should be able to offer more freebies and treats on birthdays, anniversaries, have special movie nights. Our current base is 80 million (that is the number of tickets sold by PVR in a year). More than 60-70 per cent of the tickets are bought online. So, currently, we track the frequent buyers and some metrics online. But once the system is running, we can track even the people who buy offline and figure out trends. My chief financial officer and team think the target is a 10 per cent increase in footfalls. But I am more worried about the product and the experience, if that is good, the results will come.
Would the data the loyalty programme throws up be shared with studios, so that they can figure out their content and marketing better?
Once we have a large enough base (which shows trends) and have used it for our company, we don’t mind sharing it with production companies.