On Monday morning June 19th, 1905 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania history was made when Harry Davis and his brother in law John P. Harris arranged 96 seats in an empty building and – BOOM – the world’s first movie theater was born. The name of this theater was “Nickelodeon” and it was constructed with the combination of the cost of admission and the Greek work for theater, a nickel and Odeon. Over the past 112 years the movie theater industry has completely revolutionized and it will continue to do so. During the fourth quarter of 2015, AMC reported their concession revenue to be $215.3 million dollars, that is the highest revenue that a movie theater chain has ever recorded. As a current manager at Cinemark 24 in Valley View, Ohio, I would like to share with you, from an insiders point of view, 5 Ways to Improve Your Movie Theater Experience.
1. Join your theater’s rewards program.
In order to thank and reward the frequent movie goers and in an attempt to others hooked, most modern day theaters offer rewards programs. For example, Cinemark offers “Connections.” Once you sign up with your name and email address, Cinemark offers a “Connections” tab under the main menu of their mobile app. This takes you to the way that you redeem your points, your very own QR scanner. From this screen you have two options, one is to Scan and the other is to Redeem. You use the Scan option when making purchases such as movie tickets, gift cards, popcorn, candy and even food and alcohol – if offered at that theater. The Redeem tab is put into use when you want to be rewarded for all of your accumulated points. The Cinemark mobile app also offers a feature called CineMode, which dims your phone’s screen and silences it for the duration of the film automatically. If you don’t touch your phone the whole time, you get rewarded more Connections points. Other major movie companies, such as Regal Cinemas, AMC and Cineplex Entertainment, all offer similar rewards programs. All of these programs have one thing in common – to benefit the customer.
2. Have a problem or need help? Talk to one of the employees.
This tip is pretty self-explanatory. While training to be a theater manager in my building, one of the basic rules of customer service when dealing with a problem is to make sure that we ask the customer that is having a problem if they reported the issue as soon as it appeared. Nine times out of ten the response is that they did not. To ensure that every single guest that enters the building has a good experience theater staff is trained to quickly intervene in almost any situation and resolve it. With the revolution of the theater industry there are a lot of new things that are now involved with going to the movies such as online ticket ordering, reserved seats and full service bar and restaurants that are not always the easiest to understand. If you need help or feel that you do not fully understand something, ask for assistance because a majority of the time it will be an easy fix for one of the employees or managers on staff.
3. Buy your tickets in advance and arrive early.
One of the most recent parts of the movie theater industry’s revolution is reclining, reserved seats. AMC theaters was the first of the four major movie companies to do this, Cinemark is now in the process of following but both Regal and Cineplex Entertainment are yet to catch on. The first time buying reserved seats can be a bit confused but once the customer gets a knowledgeable sense as to what is going on, the benefits of the system are prominent. Theaters encourage the usage of their websites for customers to purchase their tickets in advance, that way when they arrive to the building the lines at the Box Office are one less thing the customer has to worry about. Even with reserved seats it is always best to arrive early. Lines at the concession stand are very time consuming, which will be addressed in tip number five. You will want to be sure that you are able to find the theatre to be accessible with no obstacles and if you do have issues with the theatre’s accessibility, you will have extra time to have them resolved. As a result of ADA standards and random theater inspections it is very rare that customers find issues with theaters accessibility but if you think that you might need some extra time or assistance feel free to stop in a bit before the scheduled start time of the movie you would like to see and I guarantee that any theater’s staff will be willing to accommodate to your needs.
4. Research ahead of time.
One common problem that movie theaters consistently encounter is that customers are misinformed about the show times for that day. They come to the theater for a 5:40pm start time that really began at 4:15pm and the best piece of advice for this issue is to make sure that you are using the theaters primary website for information. What I mean by this is that if you and your party are planning on attending an AMC theater on a Friday night for the 7:05pm new release action thriller, make sure that you are using www.amctheaters.com and that you have selected the right location. Or if you are planning on attending a Cinemark theater for the Thursday night, midnight release of the blockbuster of the summer, make sure that you are using www.cinemark.com and that you have selected the right location. The most common mistake when it comes to this scenario is that people do not select the right location and since show times change from theater to theater, this causes problems. The second most common mistake is that people tend to use www.fandango.com to order their tickets and the problem with this is that movie theaters change and update their show times on a day-to-day basis and fandango does not.
5. Think while in line.
No matter how you spin it, there are long lines at the movie theater. The movie theater industry has attempted to change this fact for the Box Office aspect of the industry with the advancements made in reserved seating and online ticket ordering. One thing they have yet to touch are the lines that customers suffer though while waiting for their food and concession items. Most theaters not only have a concession stand but also have a full service sit down restaurant or a café and some even have a full service bar. One thing that has actually made all these lines worse is the reserved seating because all of the customers share the common mindset that they do not have to arrive early for their show because they already have their seats. And although this is mainly true, where most people make the mistake is they do not factor in time to retrieve the delicious, fresh and buttery popcorn that seems to complete their movie theater experience. My words of wisdom on this topic are simply to advise you to think about what you actually want order while you wait in the line. From observation at my theater, as well as others, more than half of the time that each transaction at the concession stand takes is the customer staring blankly at the screens trying to decide what they want. But if they were to have done this in the previous 10 minutes that they were in line it would greatly speed up the entire process.
As far as the basics go, I think that just about covers it. Growing up going to the movie theater to catch one of my favorite flicks and spending endless amounts of time in the game room used to be one of my favorite things to do. The experiences that I had when I was a child was a large part of the reason that I initially applied to work where I do today. Being a manager I am now able be a part of the reason that children who attend my theater have the same memories and experiences that I did. After all, where else can you share happiness, sadness, love, anger, excitement and countless emotions with so many strangers? The only place that I can name is the movie theater. Hopefully these five tips make it a little easier for you to enjoy it.