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Australian Cinemas Teach Live Entertainment About Reinvention…

Big Ideas:

  • Entertainment is a big part of folks’ lives everywhere in the world.
  • The total experience matters. 
  • Looking at Australia cinema, we see that a lot of entertainment is appointment based. 

Y’all thought I forgot about Australia? 

I have not and I expect to see y’all at the Ticketing Professionals Conference this year on 2-3 November in Parramatta. 

In the States, we’ve seen some version of this stuff taking hold at different locations like:

  • My local theatre had a bar before it closed down for good during the pandemic. 
  • The CMX Cinema chain which I visit when I’m staying in Miami. 
  • IMAX 4DX cinemas around the country. 

All of these are ways that cinema chains have worked to expand the customer experience of going to the movies as the TV and streaming experience gets better and better. 

The challenge of enhancing the customer experience is global at this point, but it also highlights the way that entertainment is a big part of our lives in every society and culture. 

For a refresher on how important entertainment is for folks, give my chat with Ilya Kratsov a listen if you haven’t already because we talk about how in developing countries that are having rapid middle class growth like SE Asia, one of the first things people look for is entertainment. 

In understanding the importance of entertainment, we have to consider that the total experience matters and finding ways to enhance that experience will lead to better outcomes for your marketing and sales efforts. 

The cinema is a good example because as streaming and in-home options grew, the movie night at the cinema took a hit because there were so many in-home options, the experience at the cinema wasn’t keeping up, and the quality of movies wasn’t able to overcome those two challenges. 

This mirrors some of the challenges that the world of live entertainment is dealing with as well. 

On Friday, I took a little bit of time to watch the Apple TV+ presentation of the Red Sox v. White Sox game and the production quality was exceptional. I enjoyed the commentary and in-game graphics. And, because I was watching the game on a 72 inch TV with Sonos surround sound, the quality of my experience was pretty great. 

If I were having beer or wine, I can tell you the F&B experience would have beat almost every in-game offering as well. (I mean I got a recent care package with several fresh bottles of Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, and other Russian River brews. I also got a very expensive bottle of Van Winkle as a Christmas gift. So my drinks game is on point.)

I used these examples because this is the competition you are facing. 

Think of all the points of friction that you are putting in the way of your fans before they actually get to your theatre, your ballpark, your arena because most customers aren’t just picking whether or not to go to the theatre, game, or concert. 

They are also picking whether to go out or not. 

There are many choices. 

And, lots of things that can get in the way like:

  • Perception of value to cost. (Poor marketing)
  • Parking or travel to the game. (I have this problem a lot if I go to Audi Field or Nats Park. It is easier to get to Baltimore than SW DC from Upper NW DC many times.)
  • F&B options. (Long lines. High prices. Poor quality. Limited options.) 
  • More choice. (Use me again, in SF that 21st Amendment Brewery near the ballpark is a strong incentive to watch the game on TV when it is a night game and cold. Or, the pier next to the Sydney Opera House and all of the options there are definitely challenges to getting folks to come inside the Opera House for a show.) 

All of this is to say you have to consider what is going on from the POV of your customer. 

Their opinion matters.

If you invest too much into your own opinion, things can get dicey fast. 

The most interesting point to me here is how the Australian cinema talks about the “appointment based” nature of entertainment now as folks work themselves out into public from their pandemic induced hibernations. 

This mirrors a John Wall Street piece that talked about the changing nature of premium ticket sales last summer. 

It also highlights a trend from my conversations with folks on the secondary market and in other countries around the world. 

People are still a bit cautious about going out like they may have gone out before the pandemic began, but if it is something really important to them…they will go out. 

Some examples of this include:

  • NBA Playoff games including the Heat and 76ers series which I’ve been watching and I see some pretty good attendance. 
  • Big baseball matchups like the Yankees vs. Red Sox series I was at in the summer. Not an empty seat in Fenway Park or, at least, it felt that way. 
  • Pearl Jam at the Forum. Friend of the newsletter, Chris Asa, sent me a bunch of pictures from his trip to the show on Saturday night. 
  • The Premier League and British sports have shared pretty strong attendance numbers as well. 
  • Big Broadway shows like Wicked continue to draw. 

We have to keep this dynamic in mind because it will impact our marketing and sales efforts. It will also impact how we package our products. And, the experience that folks receive when they come to visit. 

How can we put this to work?

  1. Think through the entire experience.
  2. Understand the value dynamic at play: does this feel like a big event? If not, what can I do to adjust the dynamic?
  3. Know that people love entertainment, but the environment for attention is extremely competitive. Don’t just listen to me, listen to Scott Galloway. Then, come back and listen to me.