I have to be totally honest here: I have no idea how Pizza Express make money through their club scheme. In all probability they want to get people through the doors.
The club works a little like this...
You pay around £40 to join. This gives you several privileges.
Firstly you get a quarterly voucher. This is a meal and drink voucher valid for one main course and a soft drink or wine.
Secondly you receive a £10 voucher on your birthday. How nice!
Thirdly. you can build up a loyalty card up to 10. When you have done so, you again receive a £10 voucher.
Fourthly, they tend to send you a questionnaire which gains you another £10 voucher for filling it out.
Fifthly, they give you priority tickets to Jazz events and Christmas lunches. I tend to ignore these however.
I must admit, that if you are frequent user, you can save around £40 a year by joining. I wish they would include the supermarket pizzas somewhere in the deal, because I am a loyal buyer of those!
In all, the deal seems to be good. I've never had a problem with it and in the end everyone seems to be a winner (maybe not Pizza Express). I recommend using it if you are a pizza-holic.
Pizza Express is the only Italian Chain of restaurants that I regualrly eat in. I dislike the stodgy Pizza Hut pizzas and find Ask's service as poor as the food. I have never had a bad meal here and 9/10 service is excellent. I had been using vouchers for BOGOF or set meal deals but when I read a review on it's club i joined immediately with my other half. Here is my review;
What does it cost?
One membership costs £45 for a year or join as a couple for £80 for both.
What are the perks?
Every quarter you get sent a voucher for a free main meal of your choice and selected drink. This includes wine, beer and any soft drink. A typical pizza costs aroun £8-9 and a glass of wine £3.50 so each voucher can save you around £12. I opted for a Padana pizza and glass of Montepulciano, my partner a Padana with an optional extra of chicken (at no extra cost) with a Sicilian lemonade soft drink. Perfect!
Saving £12 x 4 visits, per person (Total £48)
After your quarterly visit you get the option to complete an online survey/questionairre about your visit. It is straight forward and doesn't take very long. This is mianly so they can make sure all of their restaurants are performing well and that you as a club member are satisfied and happy. After each quarterly review you will be sent a £10 voucher. You can fill in surveys after each visit and they often reward this with free vouchers for garlic bread or dough balls.
£10 x 4 surveys, per person (Total £48 + £40= £88)
On your birthday you also get sent a £10 voucher.
You also get a voucher for one free person into the Jazz Club on specified dates with one paying adult
If you visit between 3-5pm and order a main meal you will get a complimentary dessert not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.
You get given a diners cars which is stamped everytime you visit, including when you use your free vouchers. After your 10th stamp you can send it away and they send you a £10 voucher.
(Total savings £98 + £10 = £108)
You get a magainze sent every 3 month and a diary when you join.
For every 3 people you dine with you get a complimentary bottle of wine worth around £15. It can't be used in conjunction with other offers but it can be used with your free vouchers.
You can also book a table in advance on a friday and saturday
On renewal you also get a free bottle of Prosecco worth around £15.
The savings come in at over £100 !!!!
Overall If you are a big fan of pizza express like I am, then this card it for you. Yes it seems costly to join but then you make your money back almost 3 times in all the freebies and offers. It's a card that rewards your loyalty and gives you that extra special treatment. the vouchers are a great excuse to go out for lunch or have a night out with a great meal.
Update - November 2009.
Do you know what? They made it better! It's still the same price, but they now give a voucher for a free bottle of Proseco (Italian sparkler) with your membership every year when you renew (or two for a joint membership) and you can now submit a members questionnaire every quarter for a £10 voucher. This all just makes this great scheme even better!
This is a bit of an addicts club (could have been called 'Pizza Anonymous' I suppose) but I am a big fan of it. Now in my 6th year of continuous membership, I continue to enjoy the benefits - and the pizza - and heartily recommend it.
*It works like this...*
Membership is £40 per annum for one person, £80 per annum for a couple. Four times a year, each member is sent a voucher, valid for the quarter, which can be used at any time in any Pizza Express restaurant in the UK. The voucher entitles you to a main course of your choice (pizza, pasta dish or salad) and a drink - a glass of wine, a beer or a soft drink. With most main course dishes at £8 - £9 and a glass of wine or beer at about £4 or more, you can immediately see that this means you get your money back, if not more.
£8 food (say) and £4 drink (say) = £12 for a visit X 4 visits per annum = £48 - or £8 more than you paid: However, this is not all...
Around your birthday, Pizza Express Club will send you a birthday card and in it is a £10 Pizza Express voucher. This can be used on one of your regular visits with your members dining voucher or on any other occasion:
£48 plus £10 birthday voucher = £58
Furthermore, you are given a collector card (a little loyalty card, like the ones from the coffee shops). Each time you eat at Pizza Express, you show the card and it is stamped. Once you have 10 stamps, you can send it back to Pizza Express Club who will send you another £10 voucher. You will eat there at least 4 times a year (with your quarterly dining vouchers) so that is worth at least £4 more, at the rate of £1 per visit
£58 plus £4 (minimum) loyalty card stamps = £62
On top of all this, you are sent a members Mystery Shopper report. You can complete this and send it back after any visit to a PE and, on receipt of it the PE Club will send you another £10 voucher. Just like your birthday voucher, you can use this against anything in the restaurant - towards some wine, starters, and desserts, whatever.
£62 plus £10 mystery diner report = £72.
There are a few other perks (although the ones above are arguably the most valuable):
In addition to the above:
* PE Club members can book tables on Friday and Saturday nights, when usually other people cannot
* You will receive one free ticket each year to the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London - but it comes with conditions that make it not very useful
* If you go for the Christmas party lunch in the run up to Christmas (e.g. with your work colleagues) and you are a PE member, PE will give you one free bottle of wine for every four people in your party - but take my advice, DO NOT order the turkey and stuffing pizza...ugh!
*So why do they give money away*
The mystery diner report would be pretty valuable to any company. On any given night of the year, a few of the restaurants are probably being surveyed by PE club members, who fill in a report that examines a lot about the operation of the unit and send the information to the centre. This is very worthwhile. Most companies do this anyway, but many of them pay other people to go in and collect this information - here, PE has got the club members doing it for very little - but I think it's worth it. By the way, they do listen to what is said and they do act on it, too - I know this from personal experience, where things I have pointed out have been dealt with, and rapidly.
In all likelihood, you will eat more than the pre-paid main course and one free drink - so the company will get some of the money back.
The whole scheme promotes loyalty and a sense of belonging - and I don't feel the same sense of loyalty to any other pizza chain, for sure. If I am away from home on business, I try to find a PE in the town I am visiting and eat my evening meal there. It is reasonably priced, it is almost invariably better than the hotel meal (if the hotel I am in even serves one - not often, in budget hotels) and I always get a good welcome and shown to a good table when they know I am a PE club member - maybe I would have anyway, but it feels good to me.
If two of you join together on a joint membership, they give you all of the above, but twice over. Finally, when you renew the third time, they send you a voucher for a free bottle of wine, too!
It's a great deal and I recommend it to pizza lovers everywhere.
One last thing and you may recognise this: At times, my partner and I need an incentive to get us out of the house. If we have our quarterly vouchers to use and it is getting to the end of the quarter, we have to make the effort and go out, rather than vegging at home. We invariably enjoy it and are grateful we were forced out, so there is a reason for joining - this is a club that will get you out of the house, but will only force you to have some nice food when you go out!
There is also another offer just added in March/April 2009, which is that as long as four people are dining together and each order a main course (to be paid for, not on vouchers or BOGOFs) then the restaurant will give you a bottle of wine per table as long as at least one of you is a PE Club member - and that is worth about another £15 - can't be bad.
Originally published by me on Ciao under the same name and updated to be posted here.
The PizzaExpress Club
PO Box 57651
Tel 0208 830 5161