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Brands, Please Stop Sabotaging Yourself (Like @InoxLeisure did)

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Today, I went to watch a movie at the INOX cinemas in Bangalore with my extended family. There were five of us and a small kiddo. 

We bought Gold Class tickets and went and took our seats. The entire experience so far was neither too good not too bad. I was fine with that. 

The movie started and 10 minutes into the movie, someone came by and asked me to show my tickets so that he could verify if we indeed had Gold Class tickets. I let this go once. Then came the interval. We ordered some snacks and came back to watch the movie. 

10 mins into the movie, someone else came asking to check my tickets again. Now this made me furious and spoilt the entire movie watching experience as I had to take out the movie tickets in the dark and I missed an important scene in the movie. 

This was total self-sabotage. 

The movieplex already knew how many Gold Class seats they had sold and the seat numbers of these seats. If they wanted to check if there was an unauthorized usage of the Gold Class seats, all they needed to do was to cross-check the people seated with the tickets that they had sold and only go to someone who is sitting on a seat that was supposed to be empty, instead of spoiling the fun for all their customers, and at that, their most valuable customers, as the Gold Class seats are the most expensive in the cinema. 

Do you or your organization do something similar and sabotage yourself ?

Instead of augmenting the experience of your most important customers, do you annoy them?

This could be by asking them to fill in additional forms when you already have the information or making them wait in long queues or asking for information that you could find out by yourself or for that matter any other such trivial act that leaves your customers with a bad experience. 

Not many customers will provide you feedback about their experience, but most will talk about it to their friends and you know what that could mean for you and your brand. 

Instead of having fond memories about the movie, here I am writing about the bad treatment I got from INOX. 

Now what could they do differently?

What they should instead is the exact opposite.

Instead of policing if their customers are buying using Gold Class tickets without buying them, they should think of finding ways to upgrade some of these customers to use Gold Class seats if there are empty Gold Class seats still available at the start of the show.

In an earlier post, I had suggested that movieplexes could have monthly passes that could then be used to identify customers who could be upgraded. If that seems to be a challenge, at least have a regular CRM system (using points based on spending) to decide who gets the upgrades whenever these seats are available.

This will ensure that movie enthusiasts will not only continue to patronize your multiplexes, but will also be constantly left guessing if they will get upgraded seats.

I am sure that some of this also means that customers who might have bought Gold Class, might buy a cheaper ticket at times, but I am sure that the increase in the number of times these very customers choose to come to your cinema over other cinema choices will compensate for this.

This is also something that organizations that sell commodities that are time bound and are of no value if not sold by a specific date/time, for example, travel industry, hotel industry, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, etc.

Share your experiences

Have you experienced something similar where a good experience was spoiled by a brand themselves by doing something stupid or innocuous.

Please share your experience so that we can all learn from that as a community. 

You could connect with me on twitterLinkedInFacebookGoogle+

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Everyone wants to innovate but no one wants to fail

Every organization, small or large is talking about innovation to be developed as a key strength within their organization. Every organization has an innovation program running at some maturity, but nothing really breakthrough comes out of these innovation programs. So, what’s wrong?

Every organization wants to innovate, but no organization wants to fail

People do not remember (everyone knows but conveniently forgets) that not all innovation projects will succeed and there is very little that you can do to forecast which one’s will in fact succeed.

In that sense, i think innovation projects are like the Movie business and there is a lot that organizations can learn from studios and production houses on how to manage innovation projects.

Mr. Jack Valenti, the long-time president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, once mentioned that

No one can tell you how a movie is going to do in the marketplace… not until the film opens in darkened theater and sparks fly up between the screen and the audience.

So it is with innovation projects. You can only find out the project’s success or failure once they come in contact with the real world and its user base.

There is no sure fire way to predict which movie will be a block-buster. Sure, there are some basic ingredients that create the table stakes, for example,

  • a good script
  • a good team of people making the movie
  • good marketing and distribution.
  • The ability of the film to connect with its customers on an emotional level is also key for its success.
  • Discipline – Ability of the producer and director to stay disciplined in the making of the movie to balance the content of the film with the budget allocated for the film and to realize when one needs to give in to the demand of the other, all based on the idea of the film and the film only.
  • Finally, the movie needs to be released to its audience and the audience decides if the film is a success or not – not the production house.
  • Each production house has multiple film projects on the floor at any time. Once the film is green lighted, the entire machinery starts out with one single goal – to bring the movie out.

But these only provides the production house a stake in the business and does not guarantee success.

So it is with innovation projects. There are some basic ingredients that can set-you up for success.

  • You need to have a good “insight” based on which you start an innovation project.
  • The team that is working on the project is critical.
  • The more you are in touch with the reality while working on the project the better the chances are for the success.
  • Is the end result able to touch an emotional cord with the end-user or consumer?
  • The ability of the team to stay on course with the budget and at the same time able to procure additional budgets if the idea or the project demands it. One can’t re-count how many innovation projects are killed for the lack of additional rounds of funding.
  • As Seth Godin keeps talking about the need to “Ship”. The final judge of an innovation project should always be the customers for whom the product/service is created using the project. You will be surprised to know how many innovation projects never see this day because of some executive in the organization deciding that this will not work and kills the project. This is the single most critical aspect of innovation that can have dramatic influence of the amount of innovations that comes out of an organization.
  • If you want to create a culture of innovation, you need to ensure that you need to have multiple innovation projects going at any point in time and if once a project is green-lighted, you need to allow it to see the light of the day by shipping the result of the project and let the customer decide.

The success rate of the movie business is crazily screwed. The number of block-busters in a year from a production house could be a handful, but still they keep making & releasing a lot of movies. You will also find that each production house also specializes on a genre of movies, that they are comfortable making based on different criteria.

So it is with organizations that want to foster innovation. The number of innovations that will prove to be block-buster will be few, a few will turn out to be decent success and few will  bomb poorly. But the overall investment in the projects will still be fueled by the block-busters and the decent successes.

So, if you want those block-busters, you still need to be prepared for the one’s that fail badly.

Disrupting Hollywood and Bollywood

Technology has already disrupted the media (print and TV) and music industries. I think that not too far from now, the movie industry will also go through such a disruptive phase.

I think that the trends that could disrupt the movie industry are:

  1. Availability of high speed bandwidth in the developed nations and getting increasingly available in the other developing nations. This will enable the Youtube’s and the Netflixs’ of the world to bring in movies in the digital form right to your PC or TV on-demand 24x7x365. The number of people who will watch movies streaming online will see a hockey stick kind of growth. I also see a dramatic increase in the number of films being produced exclusively for online distribution. More likely that these will be short films (<20 mins long).
  2. Crowdsourcing as a concept can work well here as well. I expect that soon the crowdsourcing model that has enabled hundreds of music artists to release their own work will also find a footing in the film industry. The power of the production houses like Disney, Fox or WB will gradually reduce as has been the case with music producers. I am sure there will be directors with good scripts will reach out to the online community to crowdsource funds to produce a movie and use the same crowd to review the movie before finally releasing the movie and sharing the profits as well. I will not be surprised if there does not exist a specific crowdsourcing site exclusively to produce movies.
  3. With the technology advancing, I also foresee that global teams will be organically formed to produce and work on a movie. The physical boundaries will fade when it comes to the project.
Imagine the following:
I have a good script which I think can be made into a movie.

I approach a crowdsourcing website to assist in listing the project idea on their crowdsourcing website (exclusively for funding movies or other generic website) along with your proposal on the revenue sharing plan.

I create a project plan for the movie. I identify the team (technical and artists) who could work with me on the movie. I also create an estimation of the budget required to complete the filming of the script. I post the project plan and the plot idea on the website and appeal for funding.

People who want to invest in movies regularly visit this site and read your project proposal.

If there are people who are interested in your project, they can commit to investing in your movie whatever amount they want to. The amount is held in a paypal kind of account.

Once you have a commitment for the total amount you had budgeted, you launch the movie.

A regular project update is sent to all the investors and the funds are released to you as you move from one landmark in the project to the next as per the plan from the paypal account.

Once the movie is completed, the movie is released (online or in cinemas) and the revenue generated is split between the investors and you as the movie producer (as per the terms you have agreed with the investors).

This is currently my imagination and could very well turn into reality soon, maybe in a different form than my imagination.  

Cry for help from a movie buff

June 30, 2011 5 comments
I like watching a lot of movies as soon as they release and in a movie hall. However, of late I have a feeling that watching movie in a multiplex immediately after release has now become very expensive, if not inhibitive. So, as much I miss going to the cinema, I have still stopped going to the multiplexes and started to wait for these movies to be available as home video or screened on television.


If I am to believe what my friends have to say, this number is only growing.

This got me thinking. I wanted to think and come up with an idea that could be a win-win situation for all.

Idea: 

One simple and old idea could be to offer a season (monthly, yearly, weekday, etc) pass.

How do I benefit:
If they charge me say a 1000 bucks for a monthly pass, I am in. This is still more than I spend on movies currently. However, I am interested because this means I can watch as many movies I want to watch and at the multiplex where I like to watch these movies.

How does the multiplex benefit:
This works on the same principles as a monthly bus/train pass works. Guarantees minimum income; more revenue per consumer; better cash flow; lower cost of capital; increased loyalty, etc. If properly packaged and marketed, this can result in additional revenue for the Cineplex.

How does the industry benefit:
More people watch movies in the cinema halls than currently.

Of course this will mean to re-work the arrangement with the distributors of movies in terms of revenue sharing. But I think that the benefits far outweigh the cons in this case.

Hope PVR’s and INOX’s of this world are listening. 
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