- The last 19 months have been difficult for the movie and events industry. However, with
cinema hallsopening up across the country and live events also slowly starting, things are finally looking up.
- Ashish Saksena, COO - Cinemas and
Anil Makhija, COO – Live Entertainment& Venues, BookMyShowtalk to us about the kind of revival they have been witnessing on the platform and tell us why they are hopeful for a healthy revival in 2022.
One thing that is making things feel normal or somewhat close to normal again is the opening up of cinema halls. There has been a lot of pent up demand with people just tired of being stuck at their homes so this has been a welcome change. More and more people want to get back to watching movies on the big screen and the numbers are showing. Recent big-ticket releases like Akshay Kumar-starrer
So we wanted to know what kind of revival online booking platforms like BookMyShow (BMS) are witnessing. And we got some answers from
Bringing people back to cinemas and events
With cinemas across all states in India finally opening, there is a lot of optimism about this quarter kick-starting the recovery cycle for cinemas, audiences and the industry as a whole. BookMyShow witnessed a hockey stick growth in user engagement, traffic and transactions nearing pre-covid levels on the platform within just the first ten days of cinemas opening up.
“Within the first 10 days of the movies releasing pan-India, daily consumer traffic surged to 76% of pre-Covid levels on an average while user engagement has been steadily rising the charts, already surpassing 66% of pre-covid levels on BookMyShow,” shared Saksena. Consumers from Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad have been quickest to return back to the movies contributing, 48% of the traffic recovery.
To encourage people to come back to the big screen, BMS has been running a six-month-long campaign #CinemaIsBack that it has conceptualised and executed in-house team. “The campaign aims at targeting entertainment-lovers across age groups, geographic restrictions notwithstanding and social setups through various social media platforms, with the spotlight on the all-new out-of-home movie entertainment experience - different but not a shred less than earlier! It is a visual, socially engaging and meme-based series executed on digital and social media and will be amplified across BMS’s customer base and potential new audiences both on the platform’s mobile app and website through mailers, push notifications along with social media platforms as also digital media to engage audiences through relevant video, visual and timely content,” added Saksena.
BMS is also going to onboard brand advocates to highlight the safety measures being undertaken at the cinemas. It is also working with partners across industries including Amazon, ixigo and MyGlamm to curate special offers and discounts for its transactors through the festive season.
Apart from movie tickets, BMS also sells tickets for other experiences and events too. So is the enthusiasm to those offerings encouraging too? “There is a definitive rise in demand across cities. However, the format of events (stand-up comedy, music concerts, festivals & performances) will gravitate towards smaller-capacity ones (bars, restaurants, clubs) where Covid safety protocols can be implemented seamlessly. The pent-up demand for these events led to an average occupancy of 70% for an event with the 50% capacity guidelines, as permitted by the government. The capacity of these events typically ranges between 200-3000 attendees depending on the venue. We believe that audiences are elated to be back enjoying their favourite entertainment experiences thus providing some semblance of the pre-Covid live entertainment scenario. Currently, comedy, live music concerts and artist performances as well as regional theatre are amongst the most preferred and transacted events on BookMyShow,” explained Makhija.
The response from smaller cities has been encouraging too and if the situation improves from where they stand today, both Makhija and Saksena are hopeful that the Tier II and III cities will contribute to the platform’s growth next year.
Marketing during the pandemic
While live events and cinemas were completely shut during the lockdown months, it was important for the platform to maintain its connect with its consumers. Apart from the #CinemaIsBack campaign, the strategy was also to keep talking to its audience.
Speaking about its marketing strategy, Saksena said, “With an all-new integrated booking flow, keeping in mind the SOPs mandated by the government, and our #CinemaIsBack campaign across digital and social media, our focus has been on educating the consumers about the safety precautions undertaken by various partners across the industry while rekindling the memory and magic of the movie experience on the big screen with popcorns and beverages in tow. On social media, we have been engaging with our consumers through quirky, fun, nostalgic contextual posts and contests, providing an exhaustive collection of information, which in turn has been enabling consumers to make a well-informed decision even before they step out of their homes. As newer and newer content kicks in, we will expand our social media outreach, making it an all-encompassing programme with offers, contests and influencer marketing kicking in our brand ambassador initiative outlined earlier.”
The way forward
With cinemas opening in India and production houses announcing a line ups of big budget movies across languages and genres since the festive season this year, BMS anticipates the road to recovery to be smooth in 2022.
“Over the next few months, we look forward to welcoming film enthusiasts and cinephiles #BackToTheatres for a safe entertainment experience through the festive season and beyond. Buoyed by the initial response to cinemas over the last month and given the staggering number of film titles set for release in December through Christmas and New Year, we believe we can expect strong growth from cinemas in the short-term itself. As far as live events go, globally countries like USA and UK have gone back to pre-covid levels and we are expecting a similar compelling return for live entertainment through 2022-23. The pace at which the country’s vaccination drive is progressing reposes confidence that the stage has been set for a long-impending revival of the entertainment business in India with all the standard safety protocols in place,” concluded Saksena.