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An interview with The Picture House owner, Kevin Markwick

Increasing secondary spend and improving customer experience at an independent cinema

The Picture House in Uckfield is an award-winning independent cinema with three screens and its own restaurant. Opened in 1916 and run by Kevin’s family since 1964, after all the difficulties of the past year, they are ready to take their business into the future. As a result, they are using Visit Software to provide a positive and engaging customer experience and support secondary spend.

After a recent transition to Spektrix ticketing software, owner, Kevin Markwick, was looking for ways to further enhance the paperless ticket system, to demonstrate all The Picture House has to offer and to encourage secondary spend.

It’s been a tough time for theatres, cinemas and event venues in the wake of the pandemic and it is common knowledge that independent owners take only a small share of the revenue from the ticket price itself. To offer a welcoming foyer experience and a well-staffed venue, as well as maintain high-quality interiors, The Picture House has been using Visit to help increase the booking at their restaurant, enhance their customer experience and increase the spend on concessions.

The beginning - getting set up with Visit

Visit was developed by a company passionate and knowledgeable about independent cinemas and as Kevin shares:

“Due to Visit Software’s close links with their customers and the world of independent cinema and performance, they understand a great deal about what is needed, what information is needed and the challenges we face.”

The set-up and integration with Spektrix was easy, Kevin shares, and The Picture House found it went smoothly. Once set up, email reminders and texts could be sent to the venue’s guests, sharing information regarding the functionality of the Visit Software, including pre-ordering concessions and booking a table at the cinema’s restaurant, as well as reminders.

Learn more about the features of Visit

The Picture House staff agreed that Visit Software has also been easy for them to use.  In the restaurant, table reservations have been simple to receive and organise. In the cinema, pre-orders have been accurately received and, for the ushers, the scanning and checking-in of customers with their tickets is easy and transparent.

The benefits – an exemplary experience even before arrival

Visit lists all of the food, drinks and other hospitality options the venue has to offer – allowing customers to explore all of the ‘added extras’ they can experience and benefit from.

“It’s been great to highlight all that you have to offer before customers even arrive. Then, when they do get here, it links well to a real-time in-house experience, ” Kevin explains.

The Picture House maintains a high standard. Its three-screen cinema includes one screen with tables, as well as comfortable seating, allowing audience members to enjoy a bottle of wine and food with their film. Whilst they also have ushers to take orders, Visit allows their customers to order in real-time themselves and also pre-order their food and drinks, which are delivered directly to the table, and avoid queuing before the film starts. This has increased the per head secondary spend already.

In addition, Visit has made food ordering and preparation more efficient, particularly for hot food orders. The software informs the team when the customer arrives (and has their ticket scanned) so their pre-ordered hot food can be freshly prepared for their collection.

In a post-lockdown world, the software has reduced the need for customers to carry cash, and reduced crowding around the concession stand, with swifter service and ease of collection, including the potential for in-seat delivery.

Whilst it is early days for the use of the software at The Picture House, the reporting functionality is something Kevin wants to explore further – comparing month-on-month spend, as well as revenue per showing – to set and measure KPIs and future goals.

The challenge – helping customers to make the most of Visit

Kevin did share that the use of Visit has not extended to the entire audience – not through any fault of the software itself, but through the need to promote, market and educate his cinema audiences to understand all it has to offer. He explains:

“We want to encourage even more people to explore all Visit has to offer before they arrive.”

Visit Software is working with The Picture House to help them with their communications and ensure that the email reminders and text message functionality is set up to regularly inform audience members of Visit’s functionality.

Developing the software in line with our partners’ needs is really important to us and why each collaboration is important.

The Future – increasing secondary spend and an even higher percentage of use

As restrictions ease, The Picture House independent cinema longs to return to full capacity and experience further growth in secondary spend per customer. They know that Visit Software has the potential to help them achieve this and are delighted to be ‘ahead of the curve’, as pre-ordering drinks at event venues and ‘app ordering’ from tables in restaurants become a normal experience in the performance and hospitality sector. With this familiarity, as well as their own marketing, they hope to increase the use of Visit to a much larger proportion of their audiences. We can’t wait to help support this expansion.

Can Visit Software help the secondary spend and customer experience at your independent cinema too? Yes!
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