Shocker: The Pay-Us-Extra-For-Nothing Business Model Breaks Down
from the at-the-movies dept
Again and again, movie theater owners have chosen to point the finger at non-factors like piracy and shrinking DVD release windows as the biggest "threats" to their businesses, rather than realizing their biggest problem is their own failure to improve the movie-going experience. The real issue is one of value: with the ever-increasing cost of a movie ticket, going to the theater becomes less and less worthwhile as long as the experience doesn't improve. It's hardly surprising, then, to find that online ticket-selling services that tack on usage fees -- without adding much customer value in most cases -- aren't very popular. These sites tend to charge a dollar or so per ticket for booking, and while that might be worthwhile to moviegoers wanting to see the latest blockbuster on the Friday night of its release, it really isn't to most customers, who are content to walk up to the box-office window and buy a ticket with a pretty minimal, if any, wait. It's a simple equation -- for people wanting to see a movie that might sell out, the ability to buy a ticket in advance without going to the theater is worth the extra dollar. But for all the people seeing an older or unpopular movie that's not likely to sell out, or aren't going at a peak time, there's no real added value for that dollar. So, after only several years, the ticket sites are realizing they've got to tinker with their proposition to draw in more customers, with the biggest potential change being variable usage fees that would charge people less for tickets to unpopular movies or showings at unpopular times. Perhaps that's a start, but it's unclear why these sites should charge usage fees at all, particularly at a time when more and more industries are pushing customers to use automated systems as a way to cut costs, and actually charge them for transactions made face-to-face with a human employee. In any case, the situation is indicative of what seems to be the movie theater industry's current strategy: get customers to pay more, while offering no more value in return.