Scene Devalues Its Points - Make The Most of It.
As most of the country has already heard, the ever so popular Scene Rewards program is changing the way members can earn and redeem some, not all, Scene points. Despite the disappointment, we have a few tips to make the most of the situation.
First, we want to make clear the change does not impact redemptions on general admission tickets. It only impacts Scene redemptions for Premium and VIP tickets.
A little background: Scene has 6.6 million members and is one of Canada’s largest and most successful rewards programs. It is owned by Cineplex, which has 80% of the Canadian theatre market – Cineplex, AMC and Empire Theatres. Members can redeem their points for free movies and get discounts on concession food and other stuff from Cineplex owned theatres.
Let’s review the changes:
|Current Redemption||New Redemption (As of Nov 4,2015)||% Change||Current Earn Rate||New Earn Rate (As of Nov 4, 2015)||% Change|
|General Admission Movie Ticket||1,000 pts.||1,000 pts.||0%||100 pts.||100 pts.||0%|
|Premium Movie Ticket (Where available: 3D, UltraAVX, IMAX, D-Box||1,000 pts.||1,500 pts.||-50%||100 pts.||150 pts.||+50%|
|VIP Cinemas Movie Ticket (Where available)||1,000 pts.||2,000 pts.||-100%||100 pts.||200 pts.||+100%|
What’s really got members in an uproar, is that Scene is devaluing the points that people have ALREADY earned. Of course the devaluation will only impact those intending to redeem for Premium or VIP movie tickets.What this clearly shows is that Scene has not touched General Admission tickets. What has changed, is that it will cost 500 more points, or a 50% increase, to redeem for a Premium Movie Ticket, and 1,000 more points, or a 100% increase, to redeem for VIP Cinema Movie Tickets. You’ll also notice that Scene is giving away more points when you see Premium or VIP movies.
The impact of requiring members to redeem more of their existing points to see movies, is the same as inflation i.e. the devaluation of your savings, except in this case you saved points, not money. As Ronald Reagan famously said “inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” Scene may have just taken 50% of your points away – again, if and only if, you intended to redeem for Premium or VIP movie tickets.
How To Keep The Value of Your Scene Points
If you redeem for general admission tickets, the value of your points will remain the same.
If you want to redeem for Premium or VIP movies, the only way to maintain the value of your current points is to redeem them before November 4th.
For those of you that don’t, or won’t, have enough points to see a Premium or VIP movie by November 4th, you can easily make up for the difference by getting the Scene Visa credit card now – it has no annual fee and will give you a 2,000 point sign-up bonus. If you get the card now you’ll have plenty of time to catch-your new Premium or VIP flick at the old 1,000 point redemption rate. If you miss the November 4th date, you’ll still have an extra 4,000 points that you got for free. With no annual fee, there’s no cost or risk to the decision.
Scene Still Offers Great Value
The truth is, Scene members were getting a GREAT deal before the change and are still getting a great deal now. Whereas members used to get the equivalent of 10% – 15% discounts on all movie tickets, now most redemptions will provide an 8-10% discount (still a great deal in our view).
Think about it, you got 100 points for a general admission movie with a value of $12.95. With 1,000 points (10 movies or $129.50 spent), you were able to redeem for an IMAX movie worth $19.99 or a general admission movie worth $12.99. That means you were getting a 15% discount ($12.99 divided by $129.50) at IMAX movies and a 10% discount for General Admission ($12.99 divided by $129.50) – great value when compared to other loyalty programs.
Now members will continue to get the equivalent of a 10% discount for General Admission tickets, but they’ll receive a 10% discount at IMAX movies and an 8% discount at VIP movies.
Why The Scene Program Had To Change
When the program first started in 2007, the VIP and Premium movie tickets were largely unavailable, as a result Scene started off with only 1 redemption rate for all tickets, because general admission was really the only ticket in town. Then, since 2007, VIP and Premium tickets have become a larger portion of Cineplex’s business. The problem is those tickets are worth $20 instead of $13 – so allowing members to redeem the same amount of points for either ticket was a huge arbitrage opportunity.
It was only a matter of time till the loophole was closed. Members should just be glad Cineplex didn’t do the same thing to general admission tickets, despite inflation of movie ticket prices in Canada and the United States of 18% since 2007! After 7 years, despite the rise in the cash cost of tickets, there’s been no corresponding rise in the cost of redeeming points for general admission tickets – a nice deal.
Moreover, there are approximately 6.6 million Scene members. Of those about 200,000 have a Scotia Scene Visa credit card and about another 1.5M have the Scotia debit card. That means Cineplex is funding the entirety of the discounts for the other 5.1 million Scene members who don’t have a Scotia Scene debit or credit card on its own. That’s a lot of money.
So it’s true, members intending to redeem for VIP or Premium tickets may get their existing points devalued. However, for the vast majority of members who redeem for General Admission tickets, they won’t be impacted at all – and will be spared the effects of inflation. Regardless, despite the devaluation of VIP and Premium redemptions, on a go forward basis, Scene points still offer fantastic value.
What Scene Should Have Done Differently
We can’t comment on whether or not Scene should have required additional points to redeem for Premium and VIP movies. On the surface, their explanation seems to make sense.
That said, what Scene could have done differently is offer members more notice. Instead of giving members 3 months notice, they should have given them at least 6 months. This would have given members more of an opportunity to redeem points at the same rate they thought they’d be worth when they earned them and created more good will.
Alternatively, Scene could have grandfathered points already earned. In that scenario, members would be able to redeem points earned prior to November 4th at the old redemption rate – even when redeeming after November 4th.