Industry comment

Cinema ticketing on mobile – comment from YPlan

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Sandra Vogel
Written by Sandra Vogel

Our focus on cinema ticketing and mobile has generated a range of responses. This is what Peter Briffett, COO of events listing app YPlan told us.

MobileIndustry: What are the barriers to serious uptake of cinema ticketing on mobiles?
Peter Briffett:  It’s a technology issue. Most cinema bookings are made by consumers walking up and purchasing from box offices. Online [web] bookings from cinemas are typically 15-20% of total bookings [a figure which increases if there is a major release]. Whilst most major cinema chains and independents have established e-commerce sites, almost none have managed to capture or engage their audience through mobile, either via mobile app or mobile web.

Whilst there has been a will to explore mobile sales, the lack of conversion and cost of acquiring traffic has slowed development. This provides an interesting opportunity because cinema tickets, like Uber found for taxis, provide a unique platform for mobile sales. Purchase decisions are made last minute, based on location and film preference – all parameters that can be delivered on mobile better than any other platform. The trick is getting the technology right so customers can book seamlessly and efficiently. Until YPlan, with it’s unique 2 tap purchase and location preference, no-one company has found a way to sell cinema tickets in volume through mobile.

MobileIndustry: Do you think there are any serious consequences – including effects on revenue – for the cinema industry if they fail to embrace mobile ticketing in the next 2 or 3 years?

Peter Briffett:  Undoubtedly there will be a lot more development in mobile over the next few years as the major chains compete for market share. As the volume of mobile traffic increases [now the majority of all visits to cinema sites are through mobile devices], continued lack of ability to convert mobile customers, will ultimately hamper sales.

MobileIndustry: Are there parallels in other industries – especially other entertainment industries – that cinema could learn from?

Peter Briffett:  The vast majority of entertainment ticketing takes place on the web. However, mainline cinema is still one entertainment category where box office purchase is greater than web purchase. This creates a unique opportunity for mobile because there is no significant web alternative for a consumer to use.

These days customers prefer to buy from one trusted place where their profile and payment information is securely saved and purchases are 2-taps whether they are buying tickets to a film, a West End show or on O2 arena gig. Just like Amazon has masterfully demonstrated in retail, and Uber in transportation, once the discovery and transaction are made seamless for the consumer, people buy more than they did before – in some cases several times more. At YPlan, we are driven by this very notion of keeping things simple.

MobileIndustry: What three steps do cinema chains need to take right now to encourage more use of mobile online devices for ticket purchases, ticket holding, cinema entry etc?

Peter Briffett:

  • Fix the mobile purchase flow [many cinema apps make it more difficult to book through mobile, that shouldn’t be the case].
  • Mobile isn’t just an extension of web. Mainline cinema needs to commit to employing dedicated in-house mobile teams if they really want to succeed in capturing a mobile audience.
  • Mobile redemption is now live in most major chains although the industry in general needs to come up to speed on this.

photo credit: El Productor: La verdad sobre un rol distorsionado via photopin (license)

About the author

Sandra Vogel

Sandra Vogel