Leveraging Innovation: Landmark Cinemas of Canada


In this sponsored column, Atom Tickets will feature conversations with studios and exhibitors on their different innovative approaches to marketing movies and the moviegoing experience. In this edition, Bill Walker, Landmark Cinemas of Canada’s chief operating officer, shares some insight on how his circuit has kept up with the surge of innovations across the exhibition industry. 

Interview by Ameesh Paleja, CEO, Atom Tickets & Matthew Bakal, Chairman, Atom Tickets

Interview with Bill Walker, Chief Operating Officer, Landmark Cinemas of Canada

Looking back over the last year, have you changed your marketing approach to connecting with customers, and if so, how?

Each year, there seems to be a new marketing channel that everyone gravitates toward. We take an always-on-campaign approach across owned and paid platforms that is balanced across digital and radio, and, where appropriate, complemented by outdoor and print. At Landmark, we’re for movie lovers, and we take a very disciplined approach in our activations and communication in an effort to bring this proposition to life. With the addition of an individual to lead our digital and social platform strategy, we have increased our investment within this space, specifically focused on driving ticket transactions utilizing a mix of tactics centering on organic, social, and paid content marketing. A component of our digital strategy was the launch of a new website in February of 2017, a site specifically designed to serve as an all-encompassing destination for movie lovers and to provide us with more user intelligence to inform decisions for future campaigns, and the ability to reward these users based on specific pre-set behaviors. And, we are also actively working with our studio partners and leading consumer brands in an effort to create new and compelling reasons to get to the movies, or extend the reach of existing campaigns. Regardless of the execution, as a smaller exhibitor with limited resources we are extremely focused on the consistency of our communication and measuring our results so that we are in position to continuously adjust our creative and media spends in an effort to optimize our investment.

How have emerging technologies—social media, mobile apps, VR—changed the way you communicate with customers?

The increasing availability of tracking and measurement tools provided via social and marketing platforms is the driving factor behind our marketing initiatives. Putting conversion—whether it is related to a direct transaction, engagement or specific action taken—at the forefront of all our metrics is enabling us to identify what messaging, creative set, content types, and demographics engage best with our brand. We leverage this intelligence to cater our messaging and focus our spend on the channels that provide optimal impact.

You have been renovating your theaters with recliners. What changes have you noticed? Will you continue to renovate more theaters?

Since our first conversion in July of 2015, the box office and total revenue increases have been remarkable, and these results have continued to exceed our expectations. With four locations now complete and seven scheduled for 2017, we are fully committed to the recliner experience. We are fortunate to have several locations with an occupancy and competitive profile that are well suited for recliner conversions. The model will not work in every location, so we are diligent in selecting locations that will provide the opportunity for continued growth after the seating reduction. We are seeing guests spend more at concessions, spill over into other titles when their preferred film is sold out, and plan early or adapt plans around when seating is available. The premium experience of recliners without the premium price, combined with free reserved seating, is a powerful consumer proposition and has allowed us to achieve occupancy rates we never thought possible.

Over the last year, which avenues do you see customers using to purchase tickets?

We are seeing tremendous growth in digital ticketing, augmented by the implementation of free reserved seating in several traditional locations and all our recliner locations. In our reserved seating and recliner locations, customers are two to three times more likely to purchase tickets digitally, in advance. In March of 2016 we launched Atom Tickets in all our locations, which was a timely addition for us. The growth in this app-based sales channel seemed to be truly incremental to our previous digital ticketing. The user experience in Atom is a game changer—once users convert, I cannot see a customer buying any other way.

Have you noticed any trend as it pertains to concessions orders? Has it impacted the combos you offer and concessions you sell?

We are focused on a perfect execution of the core movie theater concessions experience—steak is great, but not in the dark. The foundation of our concession strategy is customization, or as we like to say, “Just Say Yes,” that provides movie lovers with the opportunity to personalize their concession combo through upsizing, choice of candy, and complementary add-ons. This strategy continues to drive strong SPH growth, and the introduction of Atom’s pre-order concession module and its seamless consumer interface, combined with the opportunity to skip the concession line, has only served to enhance our guests’ concession experience and improve our financial performance.

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