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advance sales at your theatre? 23 May 2005 18:15 #10311

  • Mike
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We do not sell advance tickets at the Colonial. There's 155 seats and if you make into the theatre goon on you. Star Wars did not sell out until the Sat night early show. In the past we have had a lot of people left out in the cold. Every major hot film has the same situation and sometimes people tell us they have come to 3-4 shows before they get in.

I wonder and my question is this: do you think that people then choose to go buy tiks in advance at 2 other theatres even if they are 43 miles and 28 miles away? Doe sthe ticket in hand cause us to lose customers?

We do not have com,puterized tiks at the Colonial. At teh temple we have RTS and we did sell advance but since they were bigger houses with a smaller population it was never a real issue. In Belfast we routinely turn people away. Does it hurt us?

My wife says "Not getting in adds to the cachet' and mystique'. I think it might just be making people go elsewhere. What say ye?

Michael Hurley
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Michael Hurley
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Re: advance sales at your theatre? 23 May 2005 19:13 #10312

  • outaframe
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I agree with your better half: an OCCASIONAL sell-out can be good PR for your place, and make the public aware that you're running a business the public supports and is happy with... However if this is happening more than 3-4 times a year, that will eventually end up harming you and tend to convince your public that you're insensitive to their wants... I am NOT a fan of advance ticket sales, but since you have 3 screens have you ever considered showing the "hot" picture in more than one auditorium?....

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited May 23, 2005).]
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Re: advance sales at your theatre? 23 May 2005 19:16 #10313

  • rodeojack
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In our case, I think it could have worked well enough either way. We also had the RTS system, so we used as much of it as we could... internet ticketing, gift cards, online credit card processing, etc. We even took phone orders, charging the customer cards and holding the tickets at the boxoffice.

Did it make a difference? That's a tradeoff. Does it upset people to see advance ticket holders push past the line? Maybe. On the other hand, a sold ticket is a sold ticket, regardless how the transaction occurred. When a customer gets to your window, there's never a guarantee how many seats might be available, whether you have advance sales or not.

Maybe the trick is to make it as easy to get tickets as your resources make possible, and the size of your theatre makes appropriate, and to make sure you use as many means to get your schedule out there as you can.
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Re: advance sales at your theatre? 23 May 2005 23:52 #10314

  • Mike Spaeth
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Advance sales are a must - people will just go elsewhere if they can't get into your plex. With the number of prints out there nowadays, there's no waiting to see what you want to see NOW.
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Re: advance sales at your theatre? 24 May 2005 04:22 #10315

  • Big Guy
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We were open for about a year and did not offer advance tickets. People got pissed, even though nobody else in town offered it, either. So we added it. People liked it. So we added online ticketing. We added that knowing full well that our town would not be as keen on it since it costs $1 more per ticket, but wanted to offer it prior to the grand opening of a chain in town in an effort to take away some of their bragging points. We seldom actually sell any ticket online, but for big pictures we do sell a few.

We have never had anyone complain about advance ticket holders, as they wait to get into the theater just like anyone else. It's just another service to offer that some customers will enjoy, and those that don't want to use it don't have to, and I'm all for offering the easiest experience possible.

edited to add: We have some customers that drive in from 40 to 50 miles away, and they love being able to buy tickets online, knowing full well that the show won't be sold out after they make the trek.

[This message has been edited by Big Guy (edited May 24, 2005).]
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Re: advance sales at your theatre? 24 May 2005 08:39 #10316

  • D. Bird
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Jack, do you sell advance tix at the drive-in?
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Re: advance sales at your theatre? 24 May 2005 10:29 #10317

  • rodeojack
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That's a good question, Dave... and one we gave a lot of though to, when we put RTS in both places.

We didn't go with advance tickets at the drive-in, because we couldn't find a way around the parking issue. First of all, everyone is waiting in line. Unless you had someone on the payroll, waiting for the advance ticket holders, you couldn't give them an "express line"... so no advantage there.

Unless the advance ticket(s) were purchased in one transaction, how would we know how many people would be in how many cars? You'd need to know, so you could make sure you had a parking space reserved.

Unless all patrons in one car had advance tickets, the whole group would have to go through the line... possibly not finding a good spot, and eliminating any advantage of buying in advance.

One of the big advantages of RTS is that it will print ONE ticket for all the occupants of the car, even though the total number of paid admissions is properly serialized for boxoffice reporting purposes. This makes it easy for us to verify admissions (read: look for sneakers). Advance ticketing would be challeging in this regard.

If you purchased an advance ticket, would you be arriving in a car?... a truck?... a semi-tractor? That would determine where you'd have to park. Chances are probably 100% that if we reserved a spot for you somewhere in the field, you wouldn't like where we put you... and we'd have to make sure there was an empty spot somewhere, so you'd have a place to park when you showed up. We'd also have to keep an eye on your spot, to make sure someone else didn't park there... which could also upset THAT customer (they did get there first, after all). Finding the best place that suits you seems to be a real drive-in tradition. Having us make that choice seemed unworkable and too much trouble.

So... we decided to leave it as it is... first come, first served.

We do make very good use of the RTS credit and gift card processing. With a broadband internet connection, processing time is about 3 seconds. A thermal printer spits the ticket and card receipt in about 2. That makes credit transactions comparable to cash, and we tend to see a lot of the larger transactions on plastic. That all helps us get customers through our 4 lines as quickly as it seems we can, so I'm pretty happy with the process right now.
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