Managing a cinema business is complex, but reopening after the Covid-19 lockdown is even more complex. So many elements need to be carefully considered and technology can play an essential role in ensuring a successful and safe reopening. Below we share some tips and best practices for guest communication as cinemas begin to open their doors.
There will be many moviegoers that can’t wait to return to cinemas, but there will likely be others that will need some reassurance and encouragement. Reigniting attendance, keeping consistent communication and ensuring return visits will be key in the early stages of reopening. Below we share some campaign ideas for two key stages, pre re-opening, and reopening. Keep in mind, it’s important to consider the circumstances and specifics of your market before setting up communications and sending them out.
Pre Re-opening - Restoring confidence
Before sending out any communication it is important to remember that if you have not been regularly sending out emails during closure, your email servers will likely need to be warmed up to maintain a positive email sender reputation and ensure strong deliverability. If this applies to you:
- Inform your campaign management tool provider before you start sending campaigns so they can track volume and spam complaints.
- Limit the number of emails you send each week (for example, you could target only the most engaged and recent moviegoers first), then slowly increase your email volume over a few weeks.
- Keep an eye on delivery rates and bounces.
Some one-off campaigns you can send your moviegoers could be to announce your reopening preparations or date if you know it, alert them that you have tickets on sale or simply to communicate the measures you're taking to ensure a safe opening. Some tips for this first communication:
- Consider your tone of voice and the content and be aware of the current news and external events when setting up this campaign.
- While major Hollywood studios may have yet to announce new release dates, incite moviegoers to re-watch trailers once release dates are confirmed or use this as an opportunity to promote local content, non-Hollywood, or catalogue titles.
- Share the safety measures taken on-site to reassure your customers that you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure a safe environment for their visit.
- Communicate to members to have made a purchase during the lockdown period (for a voucher for example) to let them know when you are reopening so they can begin to plan their visit.
If you have a loyalty programme it is key to keep communication consistent with your loyalty members, especially as you prepare to re-open. Proactively inform them how reopening affects your loyalty programme and their benefits. For example:
- Update members who had points or benefits that expired during closure, consider re-applying or extending the validity period and communicating this to them.
- Equally some members may have had their membership expire during closure, again consider extending their membership and/or compensating them for the ‘lost months’.
- Send a campaign to those members who signed up during lockdown, remind them of their benefits and inform them when they can visit.
- Create excitement with your members and send out a countdown campaign and make suggestions on how they can use their points and benefits once the cinema is open again.
Finally, if you have paused any recurring or automated campaigns during closure this would be a good time to review and reactivate them. You may need to update wording or segmentation before these campaigns are activated again.
Re-opening - Attracting audiences back
As your cinemas open again and sessions begin screening, you will need to continue to create engaging campaigns that encourage moviegoers repeat visitation.
To build up excitement place a strong emphasis on the movie content you do have available. Even with limited content you can emphasise the moviegoing experience, reminding people why movies are so amazing to experience at the cinema. Include trailers, fun scenes or behind the scene clips or focus on themed emails with legacy titles (like Top Gun, Grease or a Horror evening). You can also encourage moviegoers to re-watch trailers for new releases once dates are confirmed and add them to watch lists if available. You could also implement a date-night experience or sing-along showing to eventise the moviegoers experience. You could even ask moviegoers to vote for the retro title they would most like to watch in the cinema.
These first communications are a great time to consider pairing a pre-packaged food item with alternative movie titles to encourage F&B spend. It is also a good opportunity to remind moviegoers of any contactless concession systems or processes you may have put in place, like ordering through your app or kiosk.
Once you have reopened, this is also a good time to consider setting up or reactivating recurring and automated campaigns for your loyalty members. Recurring campaigns are useful if you would like a member to automatically receive campaigns when an event happens or if they get to a certain state, they can also help to keep encouraging cinema visitation. For example, you could send a campaign offer to members who once they visit the cinema will receive free popcorn if they visit the cinema in the next 14 days. Automated campaigns are useful for both pre- and post-session engagement with your members. Before a session, remind members of the safety measures you’re taking again and how you have adapted your cinemas so there are no surprises when they visit (for example, staff may be wearing masks or protective equipment). After a session, keep your engagement up by sending surveys asking for feedback on their experience and reinforce that the money spent in the cinema will continue to support your business, staff, and the industry.
With the pent up demand to socialise once again, share moments with friends and family, and to be entertained beyond the endless viewing of online and in-home content; cinemas are going to be a much-needed escape for people post lockdown. By having the right operations and marketing plans in place, cinemas will be able to shift their focus to what our industry has always excelled in - delivering amazing and entertaining experiences to guests, to keep them coming back for more!
For more tips on re-opening check out our essential resource page here.