Fandango wants to get more butts into cinema seats this summer with the rollout of VIP+ — its first loyalty-rewards program that will offer monetary credits to customers.
The online movie-ticketer’s Fandango VIP+, launching later on Tuesday, will grant points worth $6 in credits for every four tickets purchased through Fandango. The credits can be applied to buying more tickets from Fandango, digital movie and TV show rentals from FandangoNow, or merchandise from Fandango FanShop.
“Our No. 1 goal is, how do we drive more people into the theater — and how do we drive people to advanced ticketing,” said Fandango chief marketing officer Adam Rockmore.
Fandango VIP+ is currently set as a four-month promotion over the summer, with the credits for movie-ticket purchases available until Aug. 31, 2018. After that, Fandango may tweak VIP+ or expand it, Rockmore said. In any case, all accrued VIP+ credits will continue to be redeemable after Aug. 31.
“We are going to listen to our customers to hear what works. We want to make sure we have this thing right,” he said.
The company’s VIP+ effort comes as Fandango faces aggressive new rivals: studio-backed upstart Atom Tickets and movie-theater subscription player MoviePass. Asked if the program was designed to boost Fandango’s competitive position, Rockmore responded that VIP+ is designed to keep its user base coming back for more: “Our consumers have known us and loved us for 18 years.”
Fandango is launching VIP+ ahead of the summer moviegoing season, starting with “Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War,” which hits theaters April 27. Other major summer releases include “Deadpool 2,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Ocean’s 8,” “Incredibles 2,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “The Equalizer II,” “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” and “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.”
“It looks like it could be an unprecedented summer at the box office,” said Rockmore. “We looked at the movie slate, and tried to determine how we could drive greater frequency [of movie-ticket purchases].”
VIP+ builds on the Fandango VIP loyalty program, which the company launched in March 2015. The regular free-to-join Fandango VIP program includes perks like being able to get refunds and exchanges for tickets and access to select free movie screenings, music and video downloads, and special discounts.
Rockmore said the VIP+ program, with real monetary credits, makes more sense now that NBCUniversal-owned Fandango has three commerce components — ticketing, the FandangoNow streaming service, and FanShop, launched a year ago. “We needed to seed the system,” he said, to give customers an array of options to redeem their points. Today, the Fandango FanShop offers a variety of exclusive and limited-edition collectibles, T-shirts, jewelry, fashion accessories, home goods, fine art, and posters from popular films and movie franchises.
The company sees VIP+ further boosting the “virtuous cycle” of the different parts of its business, covering the entire moviegoing lifecycle. It already ties them together in one-off promos. For example, starting Tuesday, to drive up interest in advance ticket sales of “Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War,” FandangoNow is offering up to 20% off the purchase of select Marvel Studios digital movies. In addition, with a purchase or rental of select Marvel movies, fans will receive a code for a free “Avengers: Infinity War” poster (shipping and handling not included) and 10% off Marvel merchandise on Fandango FanShop.
Here’s how Fandango VIP+ works: Users first must be enrolled in Fandango VIP. For every movie ticket purchased through Fandango, Fandango VIP members will receive 150 “VIP+ Points” applied to their account within 12-24 hours. Once members reach 600 VIP+ Points, they will receive a $6 discount code to be used for future movie ticket purchases, digital movie purchases and rentals on FandangoNow, or movie merchandise on Fandango FanShop.
In addition to receiving benefits from the Fandango VIP+ rewards program, Fandango ticket buyers will continue to receive partner perks from exhibitor partner programs, including AMC Stubs, Cinemark Connections, Regal Crown Club, and Marcus Theatres’ Magical Movie Rewards. Members of the standard Fandango VIP program also can apply ticket purchases to theater-chain loyalty programs.
Fandango plans to launch a VIP+ marketing campaign spanning online, TV, outdoor, and print, with the tagline “The Summer of More.”
Fandango VIP+ is available only in the U.S.; more info is available at fandango.com/VIP-Plus. The company also owns MovieTickets.com, which operates in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Ingresso.com in Brazil and Fandango Latin America; however, the VIP+ program applies just to Fandango properties.
Watch Fandango’s 30-second ad for VIP+: