More than 200 cinema professionals from around the world gathered in Auckland, New Zealand last week for the eighth biennial Vista Customer Conference. The conference was the largest yet that Vista has held. Vista Group, provider of cinema management, film distribution and customer analytics technology to studios, distributors, exhibitors, and moviegoers, provided updates on current and future product developments.
Held March 6-9, delegates from major multi-territory cinema chains through to independents, heard from Vista experts about the latest exciting innovations in Vista Cinema, ranging from mobile apps and food and beverage solutions, through to new products that Vista Group is imagining and developing. Aligned with Vista’s strategy of bringing new and improved synergistic solutions to the industry, Vista’s aim of Rethinking the Business of the Movies was evident. In-depth product tutorials were available in the ’Vista Lab,’ which was configured especially for the event and proved very popular with delegates.
In his opening remarks, Vista Group CEO Murray Holdaway said, “Vista Group businesses enjoy very close relationships with our customers in over 80 countries around the world. With more than 500 people in New Zealand, the USA, China, the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and Romania, we are well across the global cinema landscape and that helps us to anticipate what new products will have the most effect on a customer’s business.”
New Zealand Government Finance Minister Steven Joyce, formerly Minister of Communications & Information Technology and Minister of Science & Innovation gave the opening keynote address. Joyce has been a longtime supporter of Vista’s one-stop-shop approach to the software needs of the cinema industry and used Vista to illustrate the overall entrepreneurial spirit that is connected to the extraordinary recent growth in the New Zealand economy.
He attributed the country’s solid financial growth to several factors, among them its proximity to the exploding Asia Pacific market including China and Japan, attractive product and service sectors including New Zealand tourism, food and beverage, and an enviable high tech and IT presence. The latter, said Joyce, is best illustrated by Vista Group, which was named New Zealand’s Hi-Tech Company of the Year in 2016.
Joyce praised Holdaway for developing what he called a deep niche area of expertise, explaining how going narrower and deeper, as Vista had done in the cinema software business, showed how New Zealand companies have exploited a history of innovation.
“Why do we choose Vista products? For me, it’s simple. Vista has a singular focus on the cinema industry from the exhibitor point of view,” said Neil Campbell, president and CEO of Landmark Cinemas, Canada. “They’ve been that way for 21 years and that’s why we focus on them. It’s why we get really excited about their products and why we come to the conference every two years. Vista is always looking for the best and newest products as well as making everything they’ve done in the past even better. Their products make it easier for our customers to go to the movies and enable us to make better decisions about running our business.”
"One of the strengths we see in Vista is the people,” said David Doyle, chief information officer for Regal Entertainment Group. “As much as we value technology, our relationship with Vista is primarily about a common care of our business and a meaningful interest in our industry. It’s a very trusted relationship. Attending the Vista Customer Conference is a fantastic opportunity to meet cinema exhibitors from many countries and gain an in-depth world view of our industry.”
One of the most heavily attended panels was a case study on The Rec Room concept. The Rec Room is Canada’s premier Eats & Entertainment destination that brings together dining, amusement gaming, technology and live entertainment experiences all under one roof. Part of Cineplex, Canada’s biggest cinema exhibitor and a long-time Vista client, The Rec Room is a premier social destination and the ultimate gathering spot for corporate events, groups and parties.
Food and beverage held significant interest for the conference attendees. From recliner seats to a robust array of food and beverage options and the opportunity to order them via kiosk and avoid the concessions queue, theater operators are eager to import these software advancements into their operations.
MoviePass, the nation’s largest theatrical subscription service, which recently announced a strategic collaboration with Vista Group International, outlined how theater owners and chains nationwide that use the Vista Cinema ticketing solution will be able to take advantage of full integration with the MoviePass service. By integrating MoviePass directly into the ticketing software, participating theatres will be able to offer MoviePass members enhanced features and new capabilities on mobile devices such as e-ticketing, seat selection and advance purchase capabilities directly from a subscriber’s mobile phone. This integration also provides exhibitors with more granular data, including harvesting valuable demographic information on moviegoers.
The use of virtual reality in the online content sector was explored by Vista Group company Powster CEO and founder Ste Thompson. The trend towards using VR in the promotion of films with the added call to action of connecting the content to a theater directory and the ability to purchase tickets generated huge interest at the Conference.
Lawrence Wang, head of Vista China, updated attendees on Vista’s answer to the practice of third party ticketing used to purchase 80 percent of movie tickets in China. Vista is working on a product that will allow theaters in other markets to move ticket sales to a mobile device, but will also allow the chain to retain its customer loyalty information, a problem for Chinese theater owners since the third party takes ownership of the ticket buyer’s profile data.
Summing up, Kimbal Riley, CEO of Vista Entertainment Solutions, described the conference as a dedicated fiesta of film industry software and creative solutions information and consultation. “The staging and hosting of the event as well as the level of attendance is testament to Vista’s dedication to our customers, our respect, our committed staff, and our determination to stay ahead of the game and enable our customers to excel.”
Vista Group International http://www.vistagroup.co