How do you best spend €50,000?

Richard Mitchell, Chairman of IMIS/BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee, brought together a panel to discuss how best to make sure technology investments pay off

The first IMIS CTC panel at CineEurope focused on how best to invest €50,000 to increase revenue. On the face of it this might be a seemingly impossible task given the cost of most technology, but the panel led by Chairman Richard Mitchell and made up of respected cinema experts Mike Cummings (TK Architects), Derek Galloway (Martek Contracts), Graham Spurling (Movies@) and Mike Bradbury (Odeon UCI) came up with innovative ways to make a little go a long way. Derek’s first thoughts would be to concentrate on improving food and beverage areas to increase sales — this thinking tied in well with the earlier CE Retail seminars. He also felt interactive signage linked with modern retail displays could make a big difference to sales, and said new signage represents good value for money in terms of returns.

Bag yourself some data

Graham Spurling said that the industry is being transformed by data, and that it isn’t only the big chains that can benefit. His own cinemas were using data to increase efficiency and profits, and he said that they can ‘drill down’ into their data to get a range of valuable management information, including the performance of individual staff. Money spent on this type of data analysis is well spent. In equipment terms he said that €50k doesn’t buy much, with dual stack projection costing perhaps €85k — but new financing systems spread payments over several years and can provide a good return on investment.

Mike Cummins also thought major equipment changes were outside of the budget. He suggested taking a look at the layout of the cinema to determine if there are areas that are no longer useful, considering reusing or redeveloping these to increase the sales that might be made from them.

Mike Bradbury told how recent work at Odeon’s cinemas had clearly shown the financial and performance benefits that could be gained by refurbishing older projectors. Relatively simple stuff like cleaning projector optical systems and ensuring optimum alignment could increase the light output of projectors significantly, increasing

 their useful lifetimes, making better use of the existing investment and providing a better experience for the audience. 

Time to linger, and invest

One of the key take away messages was about the requirement for exhibitors to increase dwell time in order to increase retail sales.  In terms of the lobby it was clear — install a free WIFI network, install digital signage, increase food and beverage options or deploy a lobby experience (perhaps a VR one). The longer you keep cinemagoers in the building, the more chance of increasing their spend.

In terms of the auditorium, there’s two main options with a limited budget. Either m

ake the best of what you’ve got by cleaning or replacing ageing light engines in the projector which can significantly improve light output, or use a small sum of money to open up a financing deal which enables ageing projection equipment to be replaced by newer offerings (not necessarily limited to laser) that might open up possibilities for improved viewing through things like HDR.

The clear message from this well informed panel was that you can do something useful with modest sums of money… and maybe you should.