Flats with benefits
After-sales service can make or break a company. And developers are now structuring unique loyalty programmes to set themselves apart in this respect. These initiatives go beyond the garden, pool and sports facilities to offer discounts on retail and luxury brands and deals at local restaurants, laundry services and salons.
Some are stepping up with community engagement activities like arts and crafts workshops for children and music concerts too. Part of the motive is to ease the transition to a new neighbourhood, part of it is also to enhance the sense of acquiring a lifestyle along with a flat.
“Since real estate is largely driven by sentiment and customer recommendation, a happy customer can go a long way in building a strong brand image for a developer,” says Santhosh Kumar, vice-chairman at Anarock property consultants. “And unlike expensive marketing and advertising campaigns, loyalty programmes cost a lot less and deliver tangible results.”
For instance, at Nahar Group, there are special discounts on membership to the Nectarfield club nearby, also developed by Nahar, as well as further discounts on the salon and certain other facilities at the club.
“For me, it’s just a better return on investment,” says Ketan Bhagat, 42, a resident at Nahar’s Rosa Alba property for four years. “These activities are what differentiates ours from other townships and stand-alone apartment blocks.”
At Sunteck Realty, there are various loyalty programmes under the different brand categories. For instance, residents of at Signature Island, can avail various concierge services at different luxury hotels in the vicinity at a discount. The company has also launched co-branded cards similar to credit cards. “Our loyalty programmes are designed to suit the lifestyle of our customers,” says Kamal Khetan, chairman and managing director of Sunteck.
At EKTA World, referral benefits are transferred to customers in the form of vouchers, either for gold or discounts on home furnishing brands like Pepperfry. A similar programme run by Kalpataru developers has led to a chunk of their sales coming in via referrals, says a spokesperson.
There’s been a slight change in the functioning of membership and loyalty programmes after the enactment of the Real Estate (Development & Regulation) Act 2016, which established the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) in each state. To ensure transparency and compliance, developers offering such schemes must now register their project with RERA or register their scheme through a registered RERA realty agent.
“Real-estate referrals are not considered legal unless the agent or person making the referral is registered. Some developers are therefore now engaging channel partners and RERA-registered platforms to deal with such referrals,” says Kumar of Anarock.
As in most segments today, aggregators are popping up to bridge the gap. The Mumbai-based tech loyalty platform Loyalie has even set up a separate tech platform to deal with realty-related loyalty and referral benefits programmes. It is called ConnectRE and has been registered under RERA. ConnectRE essentially helps builders extend loyalty programmes to all current and past customers across all their projects.
“Some builders are rewarding customers with 1% of the sale value, in cases where there is a successful booking through their referrals,” says Akhil Saraf of Loyalie.