The Best Seat in the House: Why advance ticketing is first choice for moviegoers


The moviegoing experience has changed dramatically over the past decade, and so has the way people plan their outings, including buying their tickets in advance.

Within a few years, mobile ticketing, reserved seating, dine-in options and many other innovations have greatly enhanced the moviegoing experience, making it more enjoyable than ever and completely worry-free. Exhibitors, in partnership with companies like Fandango, continue to introduce new ticketing innovations to make the customer experience as frictionless as possible.

Mobile Ticketing

Ticketing companies have long looked for ways to reduce consumer pain points and enhance the customers’ experience of going to the movies. As early as 2005, Fandango moviegoers started buying their tickets on their mobile devices. Today, more than half of the company’s tickets are sold via mobile, as film fans are able to quickly make their viewing decisions while on the go, and easily redeem their tickets on their phones.

Since that initial launch, Fandango’s app has been downloaded more than 52 million times, and thanks to innovative exhibitors, mobile redemption is now available at the majority of U.S. theatre locations that offer access to remote ticketing.

The New Mobile Ticket

The industry continues to develop and test innovative mobile and social ticketing enhancements, offering new products and services all the time. Fandango’s new Mobile Ticket (with no scanning equipment required) is now available at more than 3,000 screens, where moviegoers redeem their tickets via an animated image on their mobile devices. Fans swipe left to “rip their tickets” in front of the theatre staffer, speeding up the process of getting inside the auditorium or to the concession stand. With the scanner-less ticket technology, there’s no need for installation and maintenance of expensive ticket scanners. Consumer feedback in early tests has been very positive.

Reserved Seating

Hundreds of theatre locations are getting retrofitted with new screens and sound, reclining seats, in-seat dining and other special amenities, and because those venues are in high demand, reserved seating is helping drive advance ticketing. According to a Fandango study, moviegoers are 23% more likely to buy their ticket in advance if they know their favorite seats are guaranteed. Knowing their seats are secured, moviegoers do not need to rush to the auditorium and have more time to make purchases at the concession stand prior to showtime.

At a dine-in theatre, moviegoers never have to worry about dinner reservations or drinks before or after the movie. Because of the convenient one-stop moviegoing/dining experience, customers are more likely to pay for their tickets in advance with the promise of a memorable, worry-free night out.

Fandango now tickets to several thousand screens with reserved seating, guaranteeing not only a ticket for a preferred showtime but the moviegoer’s favorite seat in the house. Fandango’s reserved seating sales more than doubled in 2015, increasing 141% year-over-year.

Exclusive Promotional Incentives

Ticket bundles, special one-night-only events, coordinated on-sale dates (with incentivized flash sales within the first 48 hours) and other promotional opportunities help “eventize” going to the movies, adding value to the experience, thus generating more advance ticketing. A bundled ticket could offer a free digital download of a previous movie in a franchise—or reserve the upcoming digital release of the movie for which the fan has just purchased a ticket. Other targeted promotions like gifts with purchase, sweepstakes, song downloads, original artwork, fan contests and other exclusive incentives help drive consumers into theatres.

VIP/Exchange Perks

Moviegoer uncertainty about weekend plans used to be an impediment to purchasing tickets in advance, but exhibitors have been working hard to remove that friction and provide greater convenience for their customers. Working with enterprising theatre partners, in 2015 Fandango launched a free VIP membership program which, among many other perks, offers “worry-free” tickets, allowing customers to easily exchange or refund their movie tickets straight from their phones or computers.

Fandango’s new VIP members are 53% more likely to purchase tickets in advance because they have peace of mind and know they have an option to exchange their tickets in the event that their plans change.

The Future Looks Bright

If 2015 is any indication, the investments and enhancements to super-serve moviegoers are definitely paying off, as they are buying advance tickets in much greater numbers. Last year, Fandango’s ticketing was up 81% year-over-year, and so far in 2016 that growth trend is continuing. As exhibitors, studios and ticketers continue to collaborate on innovation and on enhancing the moviegoing experience, the future of advance ticketing looks very bright.