22 May 2019

By Jason SOUTHERN – Channel Manager – AURES UK

If you are a fan of live music, if you have bought a train ticket online in the past couple of years, or perhaps if you have travelled abroad by plane recently, chances are you have come across paperless ticketing.

The concept is simple. Taking advantage of the fact that a majority of people now carry a smartphone about with them, digital tickets are sent via email, SMS, web link or within an app rather than being printed out. As long as the customer has their phone with them, they can present this e-ticket to get into their concert, travel on their train or board their flight.

Use cases for paperless ticketing are multiplying rapidly as the world realises the benefits of going digital. Cinema operators are amongst those catching on. Here are three key reasons why.

More eco-friendly and cost-effective

There’s no getting around it, paper ticketing is wasteful. Every ticket printed consumes resources. A cinema ticket has an effective operational life of perhaps a few minutes from the time the machine prints it to when it is checked by an usher on the way into the theatre. After that, it is simply discarded.

A large cinema chain might print hundreds of thousands of tickets a year. Paperless ticketing offers a way to reduce overheads by cutting the use of paper, ink and electricity. At the same time, it also helps to boost their CSR credentials by promoting more sustainable practices that slash waste.

Offers better alignment with online sales

One of the big trends that has helped cinema operators improve customer experience is the introduction of online ticket sales. Well aware that long queues for tickets at peak times potentially put would-be customers off visiting, nearly all major cinema chains have introduced online ordering to ease the congestion.

While it has undoubtedly made a difference, the need for paper tickets has continued to pose a stumbling block. Even if a customer buys a ticket in advance, they still have to go to a ticket booth or self-service machine to print their ticket out on arrival. This still creates potential for queues.

With digital tickets, this friction point is eliminated. However, it is delivered, once the customer has their e-ticket on their phone, there is no need to queue in the ticket hall at all, they can go straight to the theatre.

Supports more flexible POS options

As well as making the journey from buying a ticket to entering the auditorium more seamless and less prone to queuing, paperless ticketing opens up new operational possibilities for cinema owners and new ways to engage and interact with customers.

One exciting opportunity is the potential to extend pre-ordering to food and drink sales as well. Whereas in the past cinema goers had to queue twice – once for their ticket and once for their drinks and snacks – in the future they may not have to queue at all. By ordering food and drink choices when they buy their ticket, either online before they arrive or at self-service kiosks, redemption vouchers can be sent in the same way as their tickets, as QR codes or similar. Orders can be prepared in service areas and quickly redeemed by showing and scanning the code, in the same way some fast food restaurants are already operating.

Paperless ticketing also ties in well with branded apps, personalised marketing and loyalty schemes. A cinema goer downloading a loyalty app can buy e-tickets with it and automatically collect points, with rewards and discounts automatically applied when milestones are reached. Similarly, special targeted offers can be made as and when a customer buys an e-ticket, allowing operators to tailor promotions and cross or up-selling to individual preferences to build stronger relationships and boost the chance of conversions.