WTW Scott Cinemas : 25 years with Tapos

If it were a marriage, WTW Scott Cinemas and Tapos would be celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. We believe that a good PoS system could (and should) be in place for decades. But it’s still nice to see such an enduring partnership, especially given the cinema industry’s many upheavals in recent years.

To learn more about how Tapos has continued to serve WTW Scott as it weathers the storms of a post-COVID recovery and Hollywood strikes, we sat down with Director, Mark Williams. We discussed how WTW Scott is adapting to new customer expectations and how Tapos continues to be a crucial part of its day-to-day operations as well as a strategic long-term partner.

The new cinema-goer

Back in 1945, Mark’s family opened its first single-screen cinema at The Capitol in St Austell, Cornwall, UK. Since then, the company has expanded to eleven cinemas across the South West of England.

When it came to The Capitol’s opening billing, the Williams family were spoiled for choice. 1945 was the year of Brief Encounter, Mildred Pierce and The Bells of St. Mary’s – product was really no problem. On top of that, television penetration in the UK was virtually non-existent. There was little competition to cinema entertainment and the cinema was constantly packed with audiences for the latest movies.

But times have changed. “Like every cinema, we were closed for about 18 months or so from March 2020,” said Mark. “People lost the habit of going to the cinema. Plus, we’ve had lots of external economic pressures. And, of course, the Hollywood strikes have created a lag in film production.”

Cinema habits aren’t what they were. Fewer Hollywood blockbusters have led many cinemas, like WTW Scott, to reevaluate their offering and cater to a new, more discerning cinema-goer. “We aren’t playing to the high capacities we once were,” explained Mark. “So we’re pivoting to provide more luxury experiences to enhance people’s visit. If you’re not coming so regularly, we want to make the occasions you do come as positive as we can. This includes upgraded seating and premium formats.”

Despite economic pressures, people are willing to pay for premium experiences. “We offer both standard and VIP seating,” said Mark. “And, although it’s more expensive, the VIP option is really popular. It sells out frequently, because people are happy to pay a higher price for a quality experience.”
Another trend Mark has seen is the increased appetite for local products at the concession stands. “There’s been a move away from big international brands to customers preferring local providers for things like alcohol and ice cream.”

Flexible PoS for changeable times

One of the main reasons WTW Scott has remained with Tapos for so long is that its solution never stands still. “There is always ongoing development,” said Mark. “The team has been very receptive to what we’ve asked them to do.” This is critical, especially since a theater’s needs are bound to change over the decades. You don’t want to be stuck with a system that was a perfect fit for a cinema in the mid-90s.

So, how has WTW Scott’s use of Tapos evolved over the years?

Online ticketing

Digital dominates most of our interactions today and cinema tickets are no exception. “There’s more online booking now than there was. And there’s fewer cash sales. Cash used to represent about 30% of our business, now it’s down to about 8%.”

This move to digital presents both a challenge and an opportunity for cinemas. Online conversion metrics become critical and card processing has to be frictionless. Get it right, and you’ll leave a good impression before your customer even steps foot in your theater. Get it wrong, and you risk exasperating or even losing customers before they’ve left the house. “Nowadays, people expect to do things in a couple of clicks,” said Mark. “No one wants to spend lots of time inputting details just to buy a cinema ticket.”

An optimized payment experience is important for customers. And smooth cashflow and clear reporting is important for cinemas. Tapos is able to deliver predictable same-day payouts for card payments, which match perfectly against the card receipts into their bank account.

Email marketing

Your PoS systems shouldn’t just process sales. It should help to generate them too. It can do so because it holds a huge amount of data about your customers, such as who sees what types of movies and how often. Tapos makes it easy for the WTW Scott team to automatically generate, send, and track targeted marketing emails and personalize campaigns based on customer behavior. It also provides them with easy access to information about regular, lapsing, and lapsed customers.

“In addition to our general customer lists, we have specific ones,” Mark explained. “For example, we can say: ‘We notice that you’ve seen three horror films this year. Did you know about our new list of horror films coming out?’ And the response has been great. Our email click-through rates have doubled.”

Stock and theft management

Managing stock to minimize theft and wastage is key for any cinema. Staff turnover is typically high, especially during the current UK labor shortage. WTW Scott needs a system that can keep tabs on stock without having to manually watch over everyone’s shoulders.

“The tough job market means that it’s harder to find the right people than ever before,” said Mark.” It’s vital that we identify weaknesses quickly, so we can act fast. That’s why stock management is so important. With Tapos, it’s easy to see if your numbers are out because we can go into detail. We can analyze incidents on specific days and see the amount of cash that’s been taken. This has been key over the past few months since we’ve had some issues and we were able to clamp down quickly.”

Next up: Self-service

Self-service kiosks have become ubiquitous in grocery stores and quick-service restaurant chains. They are also pretty common place in cinemas for ticket collection. However, the WTW Scott team believes that, in time, this will be extended to food and drink sales. “I think that, instead of manned retail counters, our food and drink sales will start to mirror a self-service fast food experience. Either by ordering food and drink via an in-foyer touch screen, an app, or simply by picking things up as you go along and paying at the end.”

With the same PoS system managing both your ticketing and your F&B, it’s simple to assign orders to specific seats based on ticket sales.

Here’s to another 25 years

Your cinema PoS system is arguably the most important system you’re going to install. As Mark said: “Don’t underestimate the role your PoS and ticketing provider plays in the running of your cinema. Tapos is probably our most important partner apart from film distributors.”

When the stakes are high, it’s vital to get it right. Of course, that means the system has to do what you need it to do. But, for a lasting relationship, it goes further than that. For Mark, it’s personal. “Tapos is an independent, family-run company just like we are. It’s important to us that we share a similar ethos with our vendors, both in terms of valuing our teams and prioritizing relationships and loyalty with our customers.”

We are delighted to have served WTW-Scott for 25 years and we can’t wait to see what the next few decades will bring.

Can we help you too?

Curious to learn how Tapos could be a good fit for your cinema? Get in touch and we’ll set up a demo.