I spent the past weekend at a conference in Atlanta with my wife and granddaughter. I hate Atlanta – too hot, too many people, too much traffic – but while I was there, I got to try out Regal’s new pilot program for their rewards card. It is currently in Beta and I am not sure what other markets it is in (certainly not our Asheville one).
I have to say both that I hate it and that I cannot wait until it comes to Asheville. Periodically, theaters and stores will revise their rewards programs in order to ‘serve you better’. This is typically market speak for we are taking away what you liked about our program and giving you something far worse and cutting your benefits but we’ll make it shiny so you won’t notice (looking at you Best Buy).
Their current program gives you a point per dollar spent, with a lot of caps and restrictions, namely a maximum of 20 box office credits per day (two tickets at most theaters will put you over that) and only a handful of credits for concessions. Every 50 points nets you something (small popcorn, small soda, movie ticket) in a set rotation.
The new program removes the point caps and restrictions (nice) and allows you to choose your own reward (incredibly nice) but makes those rewards much more expensive (gotcha!). It changes the point system to one you can spend and makes it a point per penny instead of per dollar so switching makes you think you are getting a lot more.
What makes the new program worthwhile? Well, in addition to the now overpriced FREE drinks, popcorn, and movies, you can use your points for movie tchochkes! The most expensive thing they had were 27″x40″ movie posters of current and upcoming features for 11,000 points. Some tchotchkes were already sold out like Jurassic World pins and a pretty nifty Mad Max backpack.
I would much rather earn points for tchotchkes than continue to get FREE popcorns that I save for my wife, small sodas that I have to pay to upgrade, and movie tickets where I’m going to go to the movie anyway.
The new program also had bonus points for daily movie visits at three different levels of membership (a la the new Coke Rewards program). Thankfully unlike Coke, the program does not rely on social media to up your level. On your sixth visit, you get Emerald status (250 extra points per day you attend I think). On your 20th visit of the year, you get the highest level which nets you 1,000 bonus points per day you attend. I will say that the points plus the highest bonus level points did not equal as fast as you earn rotational rewards now.
Sadly, while I was in the program for seeing a movie in Atlanta, as soon as I went to a movie on my return to Asheville, it switched me back to the regular rewards program and now I have no access to the beta test. /sigh if only I had spent those points before seeing Jurassic World.
It was fun while it lasted and I look forward to the corporate-wide rollout. With a good enough set of movie merchandise, I could see making Regal my go to destination for the movies.