Tomorrow I will attend the 2018/19 Entertainment Canberra launch. So I decided to tally up how much money I have SAVED from my Entertainment Book membership over the last year.
Years ago a good friend used to go out of her way to convince me to buy an Entertainment Book for a project she was fundraising for at her church. I was polite but firm. “No thank you,” I said. “I wouldn’t use it.”
Fast forward to three years ago, and I decided to investigate what was actually in these books. Were they just a marketing con geared to extorting soft-hearted do-gooders who wanted to support a charity? Were they only useful for people who ate out a lot? Or was there actually something in them? I had volunteered to attend the Entertainment Book launch event for my work’s families network and wanted to investigate if there was anything of value in the memberships I was selling.
Let me say that a lot has changed with the books in recent years. For one thing, they are no longer JUST a hardcopy book. Over the last year, I have been using the Entertainment Book’s electronic membership, and I have been pleasantly surprised. I love flicking through the hardcopy book, but I discovered I love swiping through the online savings opportunities even more. There are a few features in the phone app version that I like:
- It is always on my phone, and my phone is nearly always with me, so I tend to use it more.
- It feels less like I am presenting a voucher when I redeem the deal on the app. I feel almost cool in fact, like a technology-enabled savvy spender.
- It has a ‘near me’ feature that helps me identify places that are close to where I am. Sometimes the offerings are places that I would otherwise have overlooked.
- It uploads new deals automatically. Often the new deals are new restaurants, and as a foodie I love finding out about new places to try.
- It records the approximate value of deals that have been redeemed. This makes it easier for me to keep tabs on my savings (more on this below).
The second thing I like about the Entertainment Membership is that there is a higher quality of restaurants and experiences than in the past. I was at an event recently where someone shared about how she once tried to use an Entertainment Book voucher for an event with family. They didn’t receive the same quality of food or service as other diners. “I could see plates of oysters being carried out, but they weren’t for us because we were on a different deal,” she said.
The last time Neil and I used the Entertainment Book (less than a week ago), the staff were so excited and happy that we presented it. “It is so good that you are able to know about us because of the Entertainment book,” she said. “I hope you will come again.” And we will, because once we tried it we liked it.
I consider myself to be a discerning (cheapskate) diner and let me say that I am often pleasantly surprised that some exceptionally good restaurants are featured in the book. The 2017/18 book was pretty good and having had a sneak peek at the 2018/19 Canberra book, I consider there is a good selection of upper-end restaurants. Nor is it just about dining; there are some good deals across a wide range of other products and experiences.
How much did I save?
I’m sure I have forgotten something, even with my app helping me remember what I have redeemed vouchers for. The big savings were on accommodation and eWish cards (which I use for purchases at Woolworths, Big W and at certain Caltex service stations).
|Item purchased in 2017/18||Savings|
|eWish cards, $1,000 @ 5% discount||$50|
|JB Hi-Fi gift cards, $200 @5% discount||$10|
|Accommodation – Pier One Sydney, one night||$70|
|Accommodation – Lake Crackenback, three nights||$210|
|Chemist Warehouse – $10 for purchases over $50||$30|
|Virgin Australia – 5% off when purchasing gift vouchers||$30|
|Petals flower delivery – 20% off||$20|
|Restaurants/dining out (including McDonalds and Subway)||$200|
Not bad for a $60 membership! And as I am already very frugal, I don’t spend a lot of money – just holidays and occasional dinners out with my fiance, trips to visit family and presents (e.g. gift vouchers and flowers). I would ‘save’ more if I shopped at Woolworths using the eGift vouchers, needed more petrol (I now cycle several days a week), travelled more or ate out more.
When I sell the Entertainment Book, people often say to me “oh, I wouldn’t use it”. People with kids say they wouldn’t use it as they don’t go out. And people without kids say they wouldn’t use it because they don’t go to kids style activities. There is a lot in the book; you don’t have to use everything to get your $60 back. By purchasing a book, 20% ($12 if you are buying a $60 Canberra book) goes to a cause you are supporting, so it is a win win situation.
As I was writing this, my Neil said that I should mention that the Woolworths Money app, which we have both downloaded on our phones, makes it much easier to keep track of our gift cards. It is helpful when using the gift cards to know how much you have remaining, especially if you need to use more than one gift card to complete your purchase.
Do you have an Entertainment Book? If so, how much did you save? How often did you use it?