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If Movie Theaters were run like Airlines?

Having worked in the airline ticketing business since 1999 and having flown since 1964 I've had plenty of time to think about the industry.... and the little idiosyncracies in the way it operates. If we could all run our businesses like the airlines we'd be wealthy...or maybe broke!

Let's say that after being in the Airline ticketing business, I decide to move to open a new business and I'll use the airline industry as my model. What would be a good business to model after the airlines. How about one with seats? Either a movie theater or a restaurant? about? ....a movie theater...

OK....first of much should I charge? I have 250 seats-25 on the balcony and 225 on the main floor. I'll take the balcony seats, make them a little larger, add a couple of extra bathrooms upstairs and have a waitress come in to serve snacks. And I'll charge, let's say $35 for a ticket. That was easy(and profitable!).

Now for the general admission. I'm going to randomly divide all the seats into five groups: A-B-C-D & E(100 in the "A" group which I'll sell for $8 each and then the other for groups I'll sell for between $4-7 each). There's no need to tell which groups charge how much because.... that keeps changing. It has nothing to do with when I purchase them or where they are located in the theater(someone paying $8 and bought the ticket 2 days in adavance can be sitting next to someone who bought their ticket yesterday for $4!), it's kind of...ummmm... random!

I'll release the lower tickets, as I choose may be available tomorrow, even though it's not available today..... but if people stop buying tickets, I'll release some lower cost the suckers that planned ahead will have paid more than this last group. Got the picture?

But what about a double feature....hmm.....if someone wants to purchase tickets for both movies, it's.... $12. Now suppose they want to watch only the first movie, it will cost them $14 to see the first movie.(No, this isn't the ntone way ticket, but it the way some of the fares work. A friend of mine wanted to fly back from The Bahamas with me. He wanted to go to Atlanta, I wanted to go to Chapel Hill. The flights went through Atlanta to Chapel Hill-actually Raleigh-Durham Airport. That's easy enough, he'll buy a ticket to Atlanta, I'll buy mine to RDU and we'll fly together, but when we went to purchase the tickets- it was more expensive to fly to Atlanta than RDU. So... he bought a ticket to RDU and got off in Atlanta.(Illegal, according the the Airlines code of conduct(that's OUR code of conduct-not THEIRS!) and saved about $80. I'll have to figure out a way to protect my profits by discouraging my movie patrons from trying to pull the same stunt. Maybe I'll have to collect their tickets as they leave the theatre to protect my profits.

OK... you see where we're going with the fares.... How about service? I think the theaters have that system down.... the snacks seem....kind of expensive for what you get! Just like... those plastic pre-packaged "meals" that they offer us on the flights. Now my theatre profits are dropping a little so I have to prop them up....Let me get rid of a couple of the workers and then raise the price of the snacks just a little...

Ah, we haven't even talked about the workers. The first thing I'm going to do is force them to sign a contract agreeing that if they are injured on the job, they will not recieve any compensation.(Yes, a friend of mine was a flight attendent on the Delta flight that crashed in Dallas in 1985 -2 August 1985; Delta Air Lines L1011-1; Dallas, TX: The aircraft crashed shortly before landing after encountering a wind shear from a passing thunderstorm. Eight of the 11 crew members and 128 of the 152 passengers were killed. One person in a passing car was also killed. She was one of 17 to survive, but she had signed a mandatory no-compensation agreement with Delta in the event that she was in a crash, and after a couple of years they began to pressure her to discontinue her therapy(for dealing with her survivor's guilt), because it was costing the airline too much money). OK, lets see if I can lower my cost of my insurance by not protecting my movie theater employees.... that's easy... no elaborate contracts... I'll just put them on part time employment!

What about the movies to show? Lets go for the profitable ones... the sure things. Along with the rest of the theaters in the area....let me just check their prices and ssell for the same thing...who cares if there aren't enough people around to see the movie...if I find that I'm losing money, I'll just go to the local government and ask them to bail me out with a little loan, courtesy of the people who I've been overcharging since I opened my little theater.

What other lessons can I learn from the industry? Pack my seats as close together as I can to get more bodies into the theater....limit the amount of damages to their possessions should they be damaged in my theater....

And how could I forget- I'll require my patrons to confirm their seats 3 days in advance. If they don't confirm, then I'll sell their ticket to someone else and turn them away from the theater if it's full.(that's one I CAN'T understand...if I pay for my ticket, I should have the right to my seat flying empty if I decide to not show up!)... But that little rule would be tied into my other one...I'll sell MORE tickets than I have seats for! That way if someone doesn't show up, I have extra seats and am assured a full theater...but if EVERYONE shows up... well, that's just their problem... you didn't confirm- tough luck!- Here come to the movie tomorrow instead. You did confirm!- ah yes, you did....would you like two tickets to one of my movies?-Don't forget to confirm that you're coming to the show or you may end up with two more tickets!(Oh, did I mention that you have to use them within a week or else they'll be invalid).

"Oh my God, the cost of fuel just went up"...we're going to have to add a fuel surcharge to the cost of your ticket.... "well, look at that- the price of fuel is dropping..... no need to drop the fuel surcharge.... it really helps us increase our profits! Let's just stick it in with all the other taxes and no one will even notice!"...following me on that one?

You know, this movie theater business is a little harder to manage than I thought. I think I need to bring someone in and have him oversee the whole operation. I'll pay him a huge salary and a nice bonus whether he turns a profit for me or not. And if things get really bad, I'll let him go. Of course with a huge bonus to leave!

Yes, folks....there is a lot we can learn from studying the streamlined operation of the happy-go-lucky friends of ours who are flying the skies! If we could all operate like they do...we'd all be........broke?

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