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    The digitisation of the cinema has allowed for some exciting developments within the theatre; 4d experiences, 4k/laser projectors, and improved 3d films to name a few. Too often though, cinemas ignore another key part of their customers’ experiences- and it starts before they sit down for the film.

    The cinema lobby today

    Exhibitors have always tried to maximise their revenues by attracting audiences with new technologies, but when audiences think of lobbies the first images they conjure up can be of stale popcorn, bad carpets, and apathetic staff. Although some steps have been taken to bring lobbies into the same age as their auditoriums with digital signage and better seating, it is still seen as little more than a throughway to the main event.

    Some exhibitors have realised that this underused real estate has the power to turn precious first impressions into repeat visits. These trend setters have embraced the reinvention of the lobby by clearing space for sit-down cafes, replacing posters and concessions menus with digital screens, and attracting younger audiences with free wi-fi and device charging points.

    Cinema lobby The Picturehouse Central in London has a cafe, bar, and restaurant as well as a concessions stand

     

    These advancements are a good start but the untapped potential for lobbies stretches beyond them to drive ever more engagement and efficiencies. Industry experts have known for years that audiences are attracted to interactive experiences and will pay for them not only with their money, but their time and their personal details.

    We took a look at what innovations cinema lobbies could take advantage of in the near future to claim their rightful place at the forefront of entertainment.

    What the lobby of the future might look like

    It tells a story
    So called ‘follow me’ advertising would bring consumers on a branded journey on the paths leading them from the front door all the way through to the big screen and back again. A drinks brand from your concessions stand might stimulate demand with a user journey that shows customers:

    • Screens near the front door- The person in the ad is parched in a desert
    • On the way to the concession stand- A refreshing drink with droplets of condensation appears before them
    • On the way to their seats- A drinks can is popped open, showing customers where to find the discount code on the can for their next purchase
    • On the big screen- The ad shows a group of friends sharing drinks and popcorn and flashes an offer audiences can redeem at the concession stand

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    It offers consumers the best deals for both them and the cinema
    The internet of things could be coming soon to stockrooms near you! By linking stock details to lobby promotions cinemas can run discounts on those 5000 chocolate bars nearing their expiration dates, and automatically push the relevant marketing to the right screens.

    It is a multi-purpose space
    Flagship cinemas are already starting to embrace the idea that their lobby customers don’t necessarily have to be there just to watch a film. They have complemented the traditional concessions stand with a café, restaurant, bar or VR experience area to capture clientele with different interests. The lobby of the future could soon incorporate all of these and become an attraction in its own right.

    It understands what people want
    Beacon technology is already being used across the world, and is in the early stages of making lobby advertising more effective, and more valuable. The beacons work by recognising any customer within scanning range using a specific app on their mobile device. Cinemas will be able to pair customer profile details with the ads and trailers relevant to their interests, then display that content on a screen near them while sending corresponding offers to their devices. Prompting customers to book their tickets right as the trailer is engaging them is a great way to target people when they are most excited about the movie.

    These technologies are largely still in development/trial phases, but they serve to further some recognisable goals. To stay relevant and competitive, cinemas will always need to:

    • Attract new audiences
    • Create more valuable ad space to sell
    • Capture and use customer data
    • Free staff from menial back office tasks
    • Maximise revenues

    That doesn’t mean these are the only ways to achieve those goals! There are tools on the market right now that can improve performance in the same areas. Tune in next week to read all about them or subscribe to the blog below to be notified when the next post is published.

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