By James Devin, Chief Marketing Officer, Webedia Entertainment
When I first started working in the exhibition industry in the spring of 2000, online movie ticket sales was still in its infancy and the company I worked for, Cinema-Source, was a tenant of Bow Tie Partners, whose history in exhibition dates back to the era of nickelodeons. Over the last 17 years we’ve witnessed new evolutions in digital ticketing, Bow Tie Cinemas has grown to 271 screens and owns the No. 15 spot on our Giants of Exhibition list, and we moved to a new office just down the road from the building that is now the Connecticut headquarters of Bow Tie Cinemas. Throughout it all, however, Bow Tie has remained a valued partner and served as proving ground through all of our shared evolutions in marketing and technology.
Based on this history, and because Bow Tie has employed a variety of native and third-party ticketing solutions over the years, I sought out Bow Tie’s Jared Milgram to get his perspective on the advantages of these options. A third-generation member of the film industry, Milgram joined Bow Tie Cinemas in 2014 as vice president, marketing, and in 2016 added the responsibility of VP, food and beverage. Later this year, Milgram will help launch Bow Tie’s first luxury recliner theaters, featuring an enhanced food menu and full bar service in select top markets.
What role does digital ticketing play in your circuit, and when did you begin to see its prevalence?
Digital ticketing allows us to maximize our partnerships with third-party ticket providers. Coupled with hosting our own ticketing on BowTieCinemas.com, we are able to offer our customers as many purchasing options as possible. The influx of ticketing options helps our circuit stay top of mind and competitive in our crowded Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets, selling more tickets than before and strengthening our already growing market share.
Why was it important for your circuit to develop its own online and mobile-ticketing platforms?
2015 marked the introduction of our own online and mobile-ticketing platforms. We communicate with our customers in a variety of ways, and the ability to internalize the process from discovery through transaction is as important as providing ample purchasing flexibility within our business model.
How has ticketing referral impacted your business?
Google is such a vital tool for filmgoers, and we see that every day in our organic SEO sessions and search impressions. Leveraging that into conversions on our own ticketing platform was the next logical step in that process. Bow Tie is new to referral ticketing, so while there is not much weekly or monthly data to measure against, we have already seen a lift in digital sales. As more tentpole movies open in 2017, they will generate greater search engagement, urgency and, ultimately, more referral sales.
Have you seen any correlation between loyalty club members and digital ticketing purchases?
We offer both free and premium Criterion Club loyalty memberships and those customers visit a variety of locations ranging from luxury and megaplex cinemas to unique art houses and neighborhood theaters. Our loyalty members respond to digital ticketing differently based on their preferred location and film selection. Any positive correlation between loyalty and digital ticketing can be linked to a combination of exclusive advance sale offers, BTX (Bow Tie Xtreme) large-format presentation, and reserved seating. Being able to enter loyalty information and obtain ticket rewards on our website, mobile app, and third-party ticketing sites certainly gives members more confidence to purchase digitally. If you want to know more, you should join the Criterion Club!
As a marketer, what strategies have you employed to increase digital ticket sales?
Bow Tie reaches its customers through a very strong communication network and works to give every film the marketing attention it deserves. Everything we push out from e-mail and search to social contests and mobile gaming contains a call to action encouraging advance ticket purchases, driving traffic to our website or mobile app. Studios have been proactive to partner and help generate demand with exclusive incentives, opening day or weekend rewards, limited BTX giveaways, and more.