The Importance of a Movie Theater Website

Searching for a movie this weekend, I cursed my way through yet another painful online experience dealing with AMC Theaters.  The main problem, in their case, is that I know their brand and I have been to their theaters.  And because I do, I have higher expectations from AMC.  For one, I assume the theater’s website would be easy to find so I skipped Google to go to www.amctheater.com.  Wrong.  So I tried www.amctheatre.com.  Wrong again.  Frustrated, I finally went to Google and typed in AMC Theater, to find the website was www.amctheatres.com.  The other two sites are not in use, but for sale – I can only assume AMC is too cheap to pay for them.  Not a great first branding impression.

As I arrived at the site, I was greeted with an extremely confusing interface pushing lots of things I don’t care about, like free popcorn.  Seriously, sell me that stuff when I get there, not online.  Just get me to my theater for showtimes.  They would know that if they asked any of their customers.  The saga continued when I discovered the hard way that booking a ticket online doesn’t work reliably with Firefox – luckily, I could use the Firefox IE plugin to get around that issue.  Still, you would think a brand like AMC would be able to get their development team to fix that.  Ultimately, I made it through to the order screen and started the process of getting my tickets.  The last time I was on the site, I signed up for the MovieWatcher club.  But apparently it takes 4-6 weeks to get a number (not the card, just a number), even though I can get approved for a credit card in 90 seconds.  Big bummer.  So I left that field empty, while thinking to myself that I’ve never belonged to a loyalty program for a brand I believed less in.  Finally I made it to the last step, and submitted my order, only to get an error page saying the site was experiencing technical difficulties and I should try again in an hour!  Um, my movie starts in 45 minutes – so that’s probably not going to work for me. 

So we jumped in the car after wasting 15 minutes and made it to the movie theater with five minutes to spare.  At the theater, my experience was the polar opposite.  I bought my tickets at an automated kiosk in less than 1 minute. I could purchase popcorn there too, and walk in to pickup without waiting.  And I made it in before the previews started.  Inside the theater the seats were modern and comfortable and the quality of picture and audio was perfect.  The in-person experience was everything I wanted it to be.  Unfortunately, I almost didn’t go because of the barriers I experienced online.  With the struggles of movie theaters, you would think the customer experience on AMC’s website (and every other movie theater) would be a higher priority for them.  After all, for most people isn’t that where the decision to go to the movies usually starts?

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