Exhibition Marketing: New ADA Regulations on Exhibitor Websites

By James Devin, Webedia Entertainment

Ours is an industry built upon the privilege of entertaining the masses. Each year we witness the birth of cult favorites, new memorable one-liners, mainstream successes, and indie triumphs. As marketers, we strive to deliver that perfect message to both loyal patrons and casual moviegoers through any digital, print, social, or broadcast medium at our disposal to entice would-be moviegoers to see these instant classics in our auditoriums. Aided by evolving technology like the reemergence of 3D, PLF, 4D seating, and myriad premium sound formats and amenities such as food delivery, bar access, and luxury and reserved seating, our job has become more fun, if not easier.

But what about those valued guests who cannot experience all of the amenities our cinemas have to offer?

Every marketer in our industry is keenly aware that many of our guests are unable to enjoy the full experience modern cinema has to offer, and they factor that into their marketing plans. The challenge before us, however, grows more complicated with each new technology and communication innovation.

To aid us in our mission to ensure that all our guests are properly accommodated and entertained, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has provided several guidelines for best practices to address all aspects of the moviegoing experience; from online discovery to in-house accessibility and enjoyment of feature films.

In November, NATO prepared an introductory FAQ to assist exhibitors in exploring issues specific to the topic of reserved seating and how that can potentially affect a specific segment of the moviegoing population and their companions. While not completely exhaustive, and coming with the recommendation to consult with legal counsel, the preliminary FAQ has some great advice for exhibitors who are currently offering or considering offering reserved seating. If you missed it, you can find the guide at https://www.ada.gov/regs2016/movie_rule.htm.

Regardless of specific reserved-seating availability, every exhibitor should spend some time reviewing the best practices for physical and digital accessibility. The ADA website (www.ada.gov) has several documents available that address physical location and digital presentation of show times and available accessibility to amenities.

Some simple steps you can take immediately include:

  • Indicate accessibility options with show times wherever possible (CC/DVS).
  • Have a clear policy for the use of accessible seating in your auditoriums and post it in lobby and online (please consult legal counsel).
  • Check your digital presence for potential ADA compliancy issues (wave.webaim.org).

Our goal as marketers is to inform, engage, entice, and accommodate all of our patrons. Brand loyalty and the success of our campaigns are driven by succinct and comprehensive messaging, and with a few readily available tips, we can ensure that all of our guests enjoy the most robust movie experience we can offer.

The movies continue to offer the best opportunity for an enjoyable leisure experience, and if we are willing to meet our guests where they are, we will continue to thrive as an industry. Each new innovation should be celebrated for its achievement and we should, as marketers, strive to make them accessible to all.

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