Mission What’s Possible

Image from Paramount Pictures and Linked to DirectlyA few weeks ago I took my boys to see the most recent installment in the Mission Impossible series of movies.  The movie was awesome as expected and another one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  But what does that really have to do with technology, you might ask? Well the gist of what prompted this post isn’t necessarily about the movie itself, but the experience and the ultimate question we all need to be asking about our own operations – What’s Possible?

My oldest son had been anxiously awaiting the release of this movie for several weeks and even counting down the days until it opened.  So the Saturday after it opened we checked the show times online and chose to go ahead and purchase our tickets in advance through the website for the theater of choice.  We even sprang for the upgraded seats to make the most of the experience.  After-all, showing up at the theater with tickets already purchased provides for a sense of calmness and eliminates any stress.  

Being in the technology industry is a blessing and a curse. 

Its a field I love to go to work every day to, but I am also ALWAYS thinking… how could this be better and how could technology help or hurt in this experience?  With tickets purchased in advance using the website I am already ahead of the other folks standing in line as soon as we walk in.  Ummm… not so fast!  Even though I purchased tickets online in advance,  I still have to get in line behind everyone else to actually get physical tickets.  Here goes my brain kicking in …. shouldn’t the fact that we purchased tickets already provide us a way to avoid the long line of people still trying to get tickets to not only this movie but all the others that are playing?  I have a receipt in my email… shouldn’t there be an electronic ticket that allows me to just walk in and have an usher scan that ticket?  When we get to the front of the line I inform that staff that we purchased online and he asks for our last name and then wants photo identification as well as the credit card we used to purchase online.  So I again ask myself… if I have to wait in the line, then produce photo identification(which people who purchase tickets at the counter don’t have to mess with by the way), and produce the credit card that I used to purchase the tickets… what was the advantage of purchasing online again.

Can Technology Avoid Lines?Now that we have printed pieces of paper for our tickets, the boys want popcorn and drinks.  Yet another line we have to get in.  At this point, the movie is going to start in 5 minutes.  We didn’t plan on standing in line for the 10 minutes it took to get our physical tickets so we are behind schedule now.  After a couple of minutes of heated discussion between my boys it is determined that even if we miss the first few minutes of the movie, snacks are a must so we get in line.  However, not everyone shares our opinion.  I count 5 different ticket holders that start to get in line but then decide against it after seeing how long the line is and comment that they don’t want to wait in line and miss part of the movie.   When we get to the counter we hurriedly ask for the popcorn and drinks and since I no longer carry cash very much anymore, we need to pay with a debit card which has to be swiped and I have to wait for a receipt to be printed out to physically sign. 

What if???

Invest in technologyHere goes my brain again… asking those pesky questions about efficiencies.  Wouldn’t it be really cool if there was a way to purchase tickets online AND get snacks at the time of purchase.  What if there was a way to do this on your smartphone and bypass the lines and just show your barcode to a staff member at the counter dedicated to people who purchase in advance.  What if there was a way to purchase tickets in advance and since you could reserve seats you could have those snacks brought to you before the movie starts.  What if this app allowed you to become a frequent customer that offered you a return ticket to see the movie again within a few days or allowed you to get tickets to another movie discounted within a certain timeframe.  What if this app allowed the theater to proactively market new movies coming out based upon what movies we had watched in the past and encourage us to come to their theater specifically as part of a loyalty program.  What if this app could allow the customers to submit reviews, feedback, and comments directly to the management and ownership.  What if by implementing these things, the theater was able to sell more tickets, sell more up-sell snacks and cut labor costs by doing that. What if.  Now you see how the curse side of being in technology kicks in.  

This theater was very nice and our experience was generally a great experience so this is not a knock against this particular theater.  This hopefully is something to stoke the fires of thought for a business owner or manager out there that would normally tell us – yeah our technology is “fine”, we really don’t have any issues that are that major.  Hopefully this prompts anyone reading this to stop and think about What’s Possible if we leverage technology for efficiency and a competitive advantage instead of just thinking about IT costs like they do the electric bill.  One thing I can almost certainly guarantee though – if you are not going to think about it this way, someone is and they may just be a strong competitor for you.  As a side note, if you are looking at how a mobile app could help similar to this – we have found a great local partner that we recommend for app development – The App Pros – ask for Bob he is awesome!

Go see the movie, eat some popcorn, be entertained and support your local theaters.  But beware – now you are going to start noticing these things  🙂


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