Wednesday, 7 October 2009
London Arthouse Alliance
In Amsterdam, arthouse cinemas got together and agreed on offering an unlimited card scheme to customers, (like the Cineworld Unlimited Card here) called CINEVILLE. While in Venice I met Raymond Walvarens, the director of the RIALTO cinema, and one of the forces behind the idea.
This made me think that a similar idea for London arthouse cinemas would be fantastic. According to Raymond, admissions have grown, the scheme pays for itself, and it's increased loyalty and frequency of visits from the arthouse crowd. The arthouse market spends so much time competing with each other that we can easily forget that we need to be fighting the real competitor, the mulitplex, who increasingly progamme more and more arthouse (particularly cross-over titles that are our bread and butter) and who use their marketing machines to take the little disposable income audiences have.
An unlimited card would incentivize audiences not only to visit our venues more, but also to take risks on films - buying an arthouse unlimited card would not only be an economically sensible thing to do, it's also an investment in quality. Quality of the programme, but also of experience. Our venues are better at customer service, at providing drinks and food, at showing the film in the right format, at the right sound level, in a safe and comfortable environment.
The cons to the deal are huge: what about each individual cinema or group of cinemas? Would they lose their identity? Would they lose members? How do we even get competing exhibitors in the room?
Understanding the common problems and challenges we share and finding solutions can solidify our sector, increase our market share, and consolidate the marketing presence of our type of cinemas. United we could stop the hemorrhaging of customers to their local multiplex. I'd be interested to hear of anyone thinks this is possible, particularly from the exhibition sector.