The cinema industry has seen its fair share of struggles in recent years. Many cinemas still rely on outdated technology and manual processes that make it difficult for customers to easily buy tickets and access promotions online. This results in limited ability to build customer loyalty or gather data beyond in-theater sales. With revenue and attendance declining industry-wide, it's clear that a lack of innovation beyond the movie-going experience itself has impacted growth.
However, there are signs of a revival on the horizon. The rise of custom cinema apps provides a way for movie theaters to deliver modern, mobile-optimized experiences to draw customers back to the big screen. When thoughtfully designed around your brand and customers, cinema apps can provide the cutting-edge ticketing, concessions, loyalty programs, and analytics needed to boost engagement and sales.
The Struggles of Traditional Cinema
For decades, the cinema industry thrived with a fairly straightforward business model - show great films in an immersive setting with giant screens and surround sound, and the audiences will come. However, in recent years, several challenges have strained this traditional approach:
- Outdated technology and manual processes - Paper ticketing, manual sales tracking, and lack of customer data beyond single visits is still common. Without a digital infrastructure, it's difficult to adapt.
- No optimized online ticket purchasing - Most theater websites are not mobile-optimized, making online ticket purchases tedious. Easy access to promotions is limited.
- Limited customer loyalty and data - Outside of concession purchases, there is minimal ability to track customer activity over time or tailor communications and offers.
- No innovation beyond the movies themselves - Unlike streaming services that use data to recommend hyper-personalized content, most theaters provide the same experience to all customers.
- Declining revenue and attendance - According to Motion Picture Association's report, the US/Canada box office revenue dropped 61% from 2019-2020 during the pandemic, accelerating losses already underway.
Online Ticketing Headaches
Most movie theaters are forced to direct customers to third-party ticketing platforms like Fandango and Atom for online sales. While convenient, this comes at a major cost:
- Customers forced to use third-party platforms - No ability to provide a customized booking experience optimized for your brand.
- No control over brand experience or promotions - You must conform to the third party's design standards and lack flexibility to highlight unique offers.
- Valuable customer data goes to third parties - Third parties gain insights about your customers while you remain in the dark.
- Missed email/SMS marketing opportunities - Without customer data, you miss key opportunities to nurture relationships and drive repeat visits.
- High commission fees paid to third parties - Upwards of 10-20% commission per online ticket sold really adds up.
Lackluster Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs at most cinemas leave much to be desired. Programs built around paper punch cards with free snacks after X visits just don't excite modern audiences. Key issues include:
- Tedious paper punch-cards - Hard to keep track of and easily lost or forgotten. Not integrated with online sales.
- No integration with online ticketing - Online and in-person purchases live in separate systems, leading to disjointed experiences.
- Minimal customer data tracking - Activity is siloed across paper cards, concessions, and online tickets. No ability to analyze trends or build customer profiles.
- Difficult to offer personalized promotions - With limited customer insights, promotions feel generic rather than tailored.
- Rewards not compelling enough to drive loyalty - Free popcorn after 10 visits isn't going to get today's audiences coming back regularly.
The Rise of Custom Cinema Apps
Thankfully, mobile technology provides a major opportunity to address these struggles through custom cinema apps. Purpose-built mobile apps can help art house cinemas and major chains alike revive their connection with audiences by providing:
- Modern, cinema-branded apps and mini-sites - Apps tailored to match your brand provide seamless booking experiences.
- Fully customizable design and features - Control the entire experience from branding to promotions to highlight your unique cinema.
- Integrated ticketing, concessions, loyalty - Unified data and touchpoints strengthen relationships with customers.
- 360-degree view of customers - Collect and own data across all sales channels to gain holistic insights.
- Built-in tools to drive engagement and sales - Use data and marketing tools to target and nurture high-value customers.
Convenient Mobile Ticketing
Well-designed cinema apps make the ticket purchasing process easy and enjoyable:
- Intuitive interface for browsing movies and showtimes - Visual galleries with trailers and seamless checkout.
- Secure in-app ticket purchases and scanning - Skip the ticket counter and gain entry directly from your phone.
- Save customer payment info for faster checkout - Repeat customers can checkout in seconds with saved payment methods.
- Easy access to promotions and loyalty rewards - Surface special offers and redemption seamlessly during booking.
- Send tailored notifications and offers - Use data insights to target promotions based on activity and preferences.
360-Degree Customer View
By unifying data across channels, cinema apps empower you to truly understand your customers:
- Collect customer data and activity in one place - Connect online and in-person sales data to build comprehensive profiles.
- Gain insights into purchase behavior - Identify trends like favorite genres, concessions, showtimes, etc. for each customer.
- Identify your most loyal customers - See who your VIPs are based on frequency, recency, and spending.
- Personalize promotions based on preferences - Tailor special offers and communications matched to customer interests.
- Send targeted communications to drive sales - Strategically engage customers via email, SMS, and push notifications.
Boost Concession Sales
Cinema apps allow you to drive incremental revenue through strategic upselling:
- Enable online concession ordering - Customers can preorder food and drinks to skip lines.
- Upsell add-on items during checkout - Suggestively sell higher-margin items like upgrades.
- Timed promotion alerts - Notify customers of flash sales during pre-shows when they are primed to buy.
- Integrate with loyalty programs - Offer free upsizes, bonuses, or discounts for VIP members.
- Order history provides upsell insights - Use past purchases to provide personalized suggestions.
The Filmgrail Cinema App Advantage
Filmgrail specializes in building custom cinema apps and mini-sites to provide a holistic technology solution. With dedicated design, development, and optimization support, Filmgrail apps help art house cinemas and theater chains increase online ticket sales, boost customer loyalty, and make transactions more efficient. Core benefits include:
- Modern, cinema-branded apps and mini-sites - Apps tailored to match your brand with engaging design.
- Fully customizable design and features - Control the entire experience from branding to promotions.
- Integrated ticketing, concessions, loyalty - Unified data strengthens customer relationships.
- Real-time sales and attendance analytics - Optimize operations and marketing with data insights.
- Dedicated support and continuous optimization - Expert team provides ongoing enhancements and best practices.
Increase Online Ticket Sales
Filmgrail cinema apps are purpose-built to drive online ticket purchases:
- Cutting-edge design for browsing films - Beautiful galleries with trailers make finding your next movie intuitive.
- Save customer payment info for faster checkout - Repeat customers can checkout in seconds with saved cards.
- Upsell concessions and seat upgrades - Strategic offers encourage add-ons during checkout.
- Target promotions to loyalty members - Personalized offers and perks for your VIPs.
- Track real-time ticket sales data - Optimize sales strategies with up-to-the-minute analytics.
Boost Customer Loyalty
Loyalty features incentivize customers to visit and spend more regularly:
- Digital punch card, points, and rewards - Easy to use programs compared to traditional paper cards.
- Personalized promotions based on activity - Send targeted offers matched to customer behavior.
- Exclusive perks for VIP members - Special rewards for your most loyal customers.
- Movie recommendations based on taste - Suggest new releases your customers will love.
- Send automated birthday and welcome offers - Make customers feel special on special occasions.
Own Your Data, Own Your Success
Filmgrail apps empower you to control your brand experience and customer data:
- Stop sharing data through third-party ticketing - Own insights to optimize operations and marketing.
- Unified data collection across all sales channels - Connect in-person and online activity to understand customers.
- 360-degree view of customer profiles and behavior - Gain a competitive advantage with holistic data.
- Receive real-time sales analytics and alerts - Optimize daily pricing, staffing, promotions, and more.
- Send targeted communications and offers - Convert high-value customers by personalizing engagement.
The Future is Mobile - Embrace It!
There is no denying mobile technology has transformed consumer habits and expectations. Meeting customers where they are now requires providing seamless mobile experiences. Cinema apps enable you to deliver on this mobile-first future.
With the right tools, mobile can provide the engine to revitalize customer engagement and revenue growth:
- Mobile is the future - meet customers where they are - Mobile apps are now the expectation, not a nice-to-have.
- Custom apps and mini-sites provide modern experience - Beautiful, cinema-branded booking platforms.
- Fully optimize online ticketing and concessions - Frictionless transactions from mobile devices.
- Take control of your brand, data, and customer engagement - Own the experience to shape it how you choose.
- Don't let legacy processes hold you back from growth - Now is the time to evolve to not get left behind.
- With the right tools, mobile can revitalize your cinema! - The opportunity is here to connect with audiences in new ways.
The cinema industry has faced its share of disruption, but by embracing mobile technology, there are brighter days ahead. Custom cinema apps provide a path to delight audiences, drive loyalty, and boost revenue through elevated booking experiences and data-driven customer engagement. It's time to leverage mobile innovation to craft a revival worthy of the silver screen.
Learn more about how Filmgrail's custom cinema apps can help your movie theater thrive in the digital age.