A Valuable Education: CineAsia University brings essential advice to the tradeshow

Snack Corner

Jeff Waaland, principal of Golden Link, Inc. conceived a valuable notion: If we educate the owners and operators of cinemas, they will be considerably more successful. The more successful the cinema owner, the more growth in that channel of business.

Golden Link and its team of experts have collaborated with CineAsia to institute a Cinema University on its tradeshow floor in alliance with the National Association of Concessionaires. From its original model of classroom-style presentations two days prior to the opening of the convention, to its applauded integration with the actual tradeshow, this forum has been supported by the entire membership. The practice now includes multiple levels of operational standards. The educational participants range from industry experts to operators sharing their very own successes. The programs that are delivered represent hands-on experience with data that backs up the talk with real-life numbers. The achievements so far have earned a win-win-win rating from the conference attendees, suppliers, manufacturers and sponsors of the universal showcases.

CineAsia University 2016 is centered on the tradeshow floor itself. This idea, developed by Waaland, allows all the tradeshow participants access to the variety of training while still visiting the showcases of manufacturers without leaving the floor. It is easy to pop in and out of the presentations and still confer with the professionals in their booths. Waaland invited NAC to lead the array of instruction, which in the past included certifications, regional seminars such as “Building the Experience”and other important components. This year, the University offers new perspectives, including cinema marketing experts delivering authentic data.

In previous years, the notion was to bring in cinema operators a few days prior to the convention in an effort to offer educational practices. However, the typical attendee does not have an extra two to three days for this exercise and attendance was modest. Now that the sessions are united with the tradeshow, participation has nearly doubled over the past two years. Every registered member has full access to the information and sharing process. The attendance has grown from 40 attendees to over 175 attendees. All the costs are underwritten by the array of sponsors.

This year, the forum consists of a moderator from NAC, who will deliver meaningful assets over the two days of the tradeshow. There are three primary components comprising the theme. The objectives are related to the foundations of the business: finance and service. Operational activities such as inventory control, proper rotation of goods and cash control lead the list of lectures. Customer service is a second theme, which is vital to the competitive nature of cinemas and plays an important role in developing loyalty and repeat purchases. Making the theatre experience entertaining with fun promotions is the third component.

Listeners will be made aware of the importance of purchased goods and how they can produce substantial profits. They will also learn that underutilizing inventory can cause significant losses. The discussions will cover inventory cycles vs. inventory turns and why it is important to understand the difference. Turning inventory into cash assets is the entire purpose of the business. How many times a manager orders goods is an efficiency ratio that helps improve the cash flow, yet it is important to track the food supplies, cleaning materials and paper provisions to maintain profitable results.

Designing a top-shelf customer-service program takes energy and determination. The very best managers “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” says expert Steven Covey. The universe is full of possible outcomes and yet the theatre manager must be prepared to handle each situation and every patron with individual priorities. There is no such thing as “boilerplate” service when designing optimal levels of execution. The patron should feel as if the experience exceeds all probable expectations. Everything a theatre owner does tells a story about the culture of that cinema circuit; therefore, it is crucial to apply the highest-quality presentation and the very best food and beverage service to match the presentations we have created with digital projection, reclining seats and impeccable sound.

The Coca-Cola Company has released marketing data that emphasizes the purchasing habits of many different demographic groups. Monica Datta, customer development director, Asia-Pacific, will discuss the ways The Coca-Cola Company is assisting its customers with a variety of products and services. Golden Link, Inc. is using its presence to expand the multiple types of premiums, cups, vessels and marketing advantages to increase sales. Kathy Hogan will present data that shows the sales growth of premiums and vessels across Australia and New Zealand. She will also outline the 2017 film releases and the products that can enhance the customer’s experience.

Shelly Olesen, VP, sales and marketing, at C. Cretors and Company, reminds everyone, “C. Cretors and Company invented the popcorn machine, and just kept going.” Olesen credits the founders of C. Cretors and Company with not only inventing the number-one snack item in cinemas but creating an entire channel of business with its concessions offerings. “After 131 years in business, we recognize the critical importance of ongoing training and education. Larry Etter and NAC have developed an outstanding education program that brings decades of knowledge to both new markets and those new to the industry through CineAsia University,” she declares. “The best buyer is a knowledgeable buyer, and in support we have sponsored CineAsia University since its inception.” Olesen testifies that the growth in the education portfolio offered at CineAsia has real value for her company, as it “is an excellent way to interact with cinemas from many countries and learn more about their specific needs.”

Craig Chapin, president of Allure, a Christie Company, also a sponsor of the University, may have said it best: “CineAsia University is a highlight to my trip. I find the sessions compelling and directly applicable to our industry.” Chapin and Rodrick Glass will present the latest additions to digital displays and attest to the growth in revenue potential using those display models. “As a sponsor, it makes me proud to bring such high-quality content to the theatre marketplace,” Chapin concludes.

Larry Ettter is senior VP at Malco Theatres and director of education at the National Association of Concessionaires.