Village Cinemas gets smart about loyalty

Who goes to the cinema these days? The answer: plenty of people.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground might have three million people go through the turnstiles each year. But Village Cinemas gets 12 million bums on seats a year.

Presenting to the dm Forum on 21 February, Mohit Bhargava (head of sales and marketing at Village) explained that last year Australian cinemas sold 84 million movie tickets!

“Going to the cinema is the highest form of paid participation entertainment in the country,” said Mo.

With so many customers and so many cinemas, how do you keep a customer loyal to your franchise?

Mohit painted the picture of how poorly Village Cinemas was managing its loyalty program. He used one particularly rusted-on customer, let’s call him Bob, to demonstrate how bad things were.

Bob and his 8-year-old son attended their local Village cinema for the screening of Captain America. As usual, both of them were in full costume. With much anticipation and preparation for their night at the movies, Bob’s reward ticket was rejected because it had expired.


Can you imagine how that made Bob feel? He called the contact centre. He tried to get his problem resolved through Facebook. To no avail – he had to buy a ticket.

“This guy had been in our program for 15 years,” said Mo. “He was worth $428 per annum and we didn’t help him. He was the movie star of our business, but he certainly wasn’t treated like one.”

With poor loyalty experiences like Bob’s, drastic action was required. “We realised we needed to widen the scope of loyalty,” said Mo. “Customer loyalty was siloed and didn’t consider the customer experience.”

Realising the damage being done, Village has established a “single customer view now, regardless of where Bob is interacting with us.”

“We’ve stopped obsessing about ‘bringing Bob back one more time’ and started focusing on his loyalty, his rewards and his in-cinema experience. Because the customer experience is now the currency.”

The good news is Bob did come back. He remains loyal to Village Cinemas and importantly, remains passionate about dressing up for a blockbuster.

Customer loyalty…it doesn’t stop at rewards.


Thanks to Mohit Bhargava from Village Cinemas for presenting to the dm Forum in Melbourne.