The latest addition to the Ticketing Technology Forum Advisory Panel, Phil Meredith is a senior executive with a successful track record in technology and business spanning 20+ years in the Cinema Industry in both international and domestic markets.
Appointed to the Panel with a special responsibility for the cinema sector, Phil currently serves as General Manager – EMEA for Vista Entertainment Solutions – a leading producer of software for the cinema market worldwide, with installations in 54 countries (and counting).
Ahead of the inaugural Forum (in London 19-20 March 2013), we caught up with Phil for a quick Q&A:
Tell us about your experience in the sector:
PM: I’ve been working in the cinema sector since I left university, initially with CATS Systems Ltd, which was acquired by Wembley in 1991 and subsequently by Ticketmaster in 1993. During that period I was given a good insight into the world of ticketing, both within the cinema industry as well outside. I also worked for a number of years with Warner Brothers, developing the IT infrastructure for their cinemas division globally. And, more recently, I’ve been with Vista since 2008, developing the EMEA market.
How has entertainment ticketing evolved during your time in the industry?
PM: Significantly! In the late 80s and early 90s, ticketing solutions were very simple and we had, for example, very limited flexibility on pricing. Now, if we look at the pricing that’s implemented by the cinema industry; it’s extremely flexible, and based on a wide variety of criteria such as the type of movie, even the length of movie in some markets, the day of week etc. So pricing is one aspect of the way ticketing has evolved. And of course, we’ve also moved to multiple channels; firstly, with automated telephone booking back in the early 1990s, then the web in the late 1990s, and now, via Facebook and mobile.
What are the key challenges facing the live entertainment ticketing sector today?
PM: I think one of the key challenges is around determining what influence the mobile device is going to have on the sector. Of course, at Vista we do more than just ticketing; we offer a range of customised software modules including F&B solutions, so we have a fully integrated platform. The direction that we’re going in is to have a single, seamless solution that takes the consumer from the purchase of a ticket right through to their experience during the movie,(where for example they might order food and beverage and have that brought to their seat), as well as their continued experience after the event, with the delivery of relevant communications materials and customer retention incentives and these kind of things. We’re not quite there yet, but that’s the aim and we’re certainly making progress!
What are the differences between ticketing in the Cinema sector, and other forms of live entertainment?
PM: Well, I would like to think that we are pretty well advanced in terms of the functionality that we’re offering. The cinema industry doesn’t have some of the complexities of live entertainment or sport, where there are many agents involved. That simplifies the commercial effects, and allows us to be more progressive and diverse on the functional aspects of what we offer.
Why were you keen to get involved in Ticketing Technology Forum?
PM: The real interest for me is to learn from other areas of the entertainment industry and to share ideas. We’re focussed on the cinema industry, so we’re not there to look at how Vista could be applied to other sectors, but more to share ideas of what we’ve done within our sector (cinema) and to learn about adaptations within other areas of the entertainment industry which will also inevitably have added-value aspirations and new technology challenges and opportunities as we do.