Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result - the Hoyts cinemas customer experience | acidlabs
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Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result – the Hoyts cinemas customer experience

Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result – the Hoyts cinemas customer experience

In an interesting confluence of circumstances, I responded to a battle cry for change in business and an experience of failure to change and the resulting poor customer experience.

Earlier, business thinker, Tom Peters posted this tweet:

To which I responded:

Today, many organisations need to dramatically change the way they function in order to provide a truly better customer experience, in the sense outlined by another of the business thinkers I respect, Umair Haque, in his book Betterness (and its predecessor, The New Capitalist Manifesto).

Later in the day, to avoid the 35-degree heat, I went to the cinema with my wife, Alli. While the film we saw isn’t important, the experience we had was. To say the least, it showed thin value and some significant disrespect for the paying customers in the 3/4-full cinema. I’m guessing that Hoyts’ management aren’t Cluetrain fans.

I was so irritated by this experience, I posted on Hoyts Australia’s Facebook page about it. A public name and shame seemed in order. My post there is shown below:

Hey, Hoyts! As a paying customer, I don’t need to have 30 minutes of ads shoved at me prior to the film. You’re already making good profit, so insulting me and your other customers this way is nothing more than hugely disrespectful.

In the 21st Century, the only way good businesses can disrupt the usual and remain profitable, is to do something completely different. This isn’t it.

I won’t be coming back to your cinema, and I won’t be recommending it to our friends. As a good customer experience, you’ve utterly failed. The locally owned cinema, Limelight, that’s closer to me (and that coincidentally, used to be a Hoyts until you dumped it) gives me a better experience – better prices (especially since you double your prices after 5:00PM), friendlier staff and they don’t insult me with a long series of ads before the film.

Today, you’ve lost a customer, because you failed to provide an exceptional customer experience.

With a captive audience, it should be easy for somewhere like a cinema to give a great customer experience – a good film, preceded by a few trailers and perhaps a couple of ads at most. Hoyts chooses to show massive disrespect to their audience by taking our money and then subjecting us to ads we can’t escape from unless we walk out. They certainly don’t seem interested in being disruptive to an experience – cinema-going – that’s ripe for improvement. There’s not a lot of customer experience design happening here.

30 minutes of ads is beyond the pale.

Stephen Collins
  • m
    Posted at 19:53h, 02 January Reply

    As you acknowledge, they are making a massive profit. Maybe if you’re the kind of person who abhors ads and complains on social media, you are not the kind of customer they want. I know that may be harsh but as a business you cannot please everybody.

    And what about the companies that advertised in those 30 minutes? Did their ad agency tell them they would be associated with summer movie peak customer exploitation? Now there’s someone who should be angry about this and can do something meaningful about it.

    • Stephen Collins
      Posted at 20:52h, 02 January Reply

      M, you’re possibly right about me not fitting their desired profile. Though I certainly wasn’t the first to complain about this; there are several on their page, all unreplied to.

      And yes, customer exploitation season is right. I’ve always wondered about cinema ads – I can’t imagine the return on investment is worthwhile…

  • Matt
    Posted at 20:34h, 02 January Reply

    Hey Stephen,

    Did Hoyts respond? Is your post still up there? Two interesting measures of how committed businesses are to social media.



    • Stephen Collins
      Posted at 20:49h, 02 January Reply

      Matt, as of just now, my post remains up, but there’s no response. I’m guessing they respond in business hours (which is fine by me – they can’t work 24×7).

      We’ll see…

  • Richard
    Posted at 20:46h, 02 January Reply

    Last night at Hoyts Woden, I was 20 minutes late for the film, and just as I got to my seat, the ads finished and the movie started. I will now be 20 minutes late to every Hoyts movie 😉

    • Kimberley Hoyts
      Posted at 10:43h, 03 January Reply

      Yes, the ad time can be advantageous when you’re running late! And some people plan to get there later to miss the ads… thanks for your comment. Kimberley (Hoyts)

  • Michael Lockrey
    Posted at 20:48h, 02 January Reply

    The only thing that could possibly be worse than this experience would be if you were Deaf or had a hearing loss, and had to sit through these ads (and trailers) without closed captions!
    That’s what cinemas currently expect from paying customers who use CaptiView in Australian cinemas……unfortunately they are all treating us the same (i.e. with contempt) and it’s a market that’s ripe for disruption, if you can navigate the copyright / licensing minefields.

    • Stephen Collins
      Posted at 20:55h, 02 January Reply

      Michael, I can’t imagine how awful the experience is for a deaf user. You’re right, the attitude this business practice embodies is contemptuous.

  • Alistair
    Posted at 21:45h, 02 January Reply

    I would like to address the demographic comment. Unless Cinemas broaden their appeal they will continue to struggle for market share against DVD, cable and the oncoming Apple TV experience. Many people have large enough flat screen TV’s now to recreate some of the social aspects of cinema-going at home. What they can’t easily recreate is the perception of ‘an occasion’. So – first filter question: was this an occasion or were you left feeling irritated, exploited and dissatisfied? Well, we know the answer to that one. Second filter question: When do Cinemas have an opportunity to reach new or lost customers and remind them of what a wonderful experience theatre-going can be?.. the holiday season.

    However, we are back at the Freakonomics type question – what behaviour do Cinema chains reward and incentivate – short term income and profitability or long-term trend building or retention. I can guess from this experience.

  • Kimberley
    Posted at 10:40h, 03 January Reply

    Hi Stephen,

    The length of time ads run is a challenge for us and other cinemas, especially during school holidays and the summer period where there are many blockbusters released and more people are in cinemas, so it’s the most attractive time to advertisers. And there can be more trailers during this time as well which adds to the pre-film screen time. We do try to make sure the films’ run time is least impacted by ads … which is no consolation I know but we make sure we don’t lose film screenings to ad time. Appreciate your feedback. If you’d like to get in touch please do feel welcome to send me an email.

    Thanks, Kimberley

    • Stephen Collins
      Posted at 11:57h, 03 January Reply

      Kimberly, big respect for replying here directly. Thank you. It seems Hoyts has the social media thing working well.

      I understand the commercial imperative you operate under, but it’s very definitely true that many more ads run today – Summer and Winter – than in the past. 15 minutes used to be the average (or at least my experience of 40-odd years of moviegoing suggests so). Why the significant increase?

      In a world where cinemas are challenged by increasing availability of high quality media in the home, your business is ripe for a leader to disrupt the model and emerge – one that focuses solely on the cinema-goer experience. Make the venues great (many are already working on this with special venue types and screens), have the concession stands sell a better range of options and reduce the demonstrably gouged prices, cut ads to a minimum – just those three things would bring the leader into the fore. There’s no leader right now (except, arguably, Dendy); Hoyts could be it.

      • Kimberley Hoyts
        Posted at 12:53h, 03 January Reply

        Thanks Stephen, appreciate your compliment 🙂

        Re ad times, I can’t comment about this as I don’t know what the ad schedule was then but will hunt down the right person to pass your question on to. Advertising at Hoyts cinemas is managed by Val Morgan (a Hoyts Corporation company) – just popped around to their office but the person who would know is back in action tomorrow. So will get back to you about this…

        Yes, agree cinemas are all about the experience and new cinemas and upgrades are an ongoing agenda. We are also rolling out new food and beverage options in the coming year – e.g. some healthier options and gluten-free products … although often people just want the traditional soft drink, popcorn, choc top experience! And agree less ads would be preferable for audiences but, as you address, at this point in time it’s a commercial business decision.

        I think, as an industry, we do need to get people excited about going to cinemas where the film is just one element of the whole experience.

        Thanks Stephen. Kimberley

        • Stephen Collins
          Posted at 08:45h, 04 January Reply

          Worth noting I went to Limelight Cinemas (formerly Hoyts, now some kind of independent – yesterday at a similar time to the Hoyts session where I had 30 minutes of ads. They showed less than 20 minutes of pre-movie content consisting of two ads and eight trailers. Hoyts on Monday showed three trailers in 30 minutes.

          Limelight are doing it better.

          • Kimberley Hoyts
            Posted at 09:32h, 04 January

            Thanks Stephen. This discussion seems like another example of the old ‘what big business can learn from small business’ topic. Yes, worth noting.

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