Following on from a very useful rebranding exercise earlier in the year 4 members of the team from the Forum Cinema Hexham, Tamsin Beevor (General Manager), Lucy Wilkinson ( Programming and Marketing Manager), Morag Kerr ( Front of House Manager) and Gordon Wilkinson ( Senior Projectionist and Technical Manager) attended the Cinema Know How sessions at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham where we were guided by Snook to explore how best to improve our audience experience for both existing and potential customers.
The 4 sessions spread across a 4 month period provided a great opportunity to step back from the day to day business of operating the cinema and see our business as others see it. They also provided a rare chance to meet with other operators of independent and single screen venues from all around the country and to share our frustrations, worries and successes in a relaxed but very productive atmosphere. The contacts made have led to an ongoing dialogue with other venues – and will almost certainly lead to some exploratory visits to the other participating cinemas over the coming months.
Being innovative was one of the core values that we had identified earlier in the year and the course encouraged us to put this into practice through observing and listening, prototyping and monitoring.
Mapping out the customer journey helped us to quickly confirm that de-cluttering and reducing queues were immediate priorities – ones that were common to a number of the participating venues. Doing away with the need for printed tickets for customers booking online was an obvious way of reducing queues in the café – we quickly introduced a new counter as a point to check bookings. Improving our welcome and our signage were also quick wins that made an immediate difference to the feel of the place for both staff and customers. We were encouraged to try out new lines in the café and develop more special events linked with special offers or new products to target and encourage new audiences – but doing it in a planned way with clear objectives and measurable results.
The course provided us with many tools to use going forward and has helped us to identify ways of engaging the entire team in the process of innovation and change. It helped us to recognise both our strengths and our weaknesses – and to recognise the vital importance of maintaining a dialogue with all of our potential customers and with all members of the staff team.