Curzon Cinema reopens with an enhanced user experience powered by Vista Digital
Curzon took advantage of the unexpected COVID-19 closure to rethink its digital experience.
Partnering with Vista Digital for design services, web development, custom integrations, and loyalty reorganisation, Curzon aimed to unify its digital presence and offer consistent moviegoer experiences.
With web traffic and revenue returning to previous levels and membership sign-ups surpassing targets for membership sign-ups in the first two months since the redesign - Curzon's reopening was a resounding success.
Reimagining the customer experience amid a pandemic
Following the closure of its cinema chain doors in March 2020, Curzon didn’t want to merely survive the pandemic, but to bring about expansion once live screening commenced again. So, they began planning an ambitious relaunch, coupled with a major rebranding project.
But legacy infrastructure, a complex catalogue of membership options, and outdated web design stood in the way. “Our old system wasn’t fit for purpose,” said Leo Brend, Director of Technology at Curzon.
“We spotted an opportunity for further growth and improved user experience by bringing together the three strands of our business - Curzon Cinema, Curzon Home Cinema, and the Journal within one unified website.“
Planning for success
Curzon’s initial vision was to unify all websites. “We quickly realised it was simpler to have two primary sites; one for cinema and one for video on demand, that integrate smoothly,” said Brend. “The website design keeps the worlds close, yet distinct enough that different customer groups don’t get confused.”
Simultaneously with their website project, Curzon embarked on an ambitious rebranding effort. They wanted to elevate the Curzon brand and add consistency across their many channels. Each website, therefore, had to be designed in line with the new brand, and had to provide a consistent customer experience.
With a diverse audience and content catalogue, and with new films constantly being introduced in different theatres for varying lengths of time, it took careful planning to eliminate the drudgery of manual setup for every online function of each individual film and theatre.
“We needed automation across our website, deep integrations between the cinema and home cinema, and the ability for customers to redeem credits across both platforms.”
“In a very short time, we got what we needed from the Vista team: shared payments, revenue expansion, all memberships in one place, and a single user experience and brand,” said Leo Brend, Director of Technology at Curzon. “The process for booking tickets has never been smoother. The number of paid subscribers is growing fast.”
Teaming up with Vista
When Curzon turned to Vista for a solution to unify and seamlessly integrate these experiences, it became immediately evident that Curzon’s needs were unique.
Omnia—Vista’s newly launched in-house digital agency—took on the challenge of redesigning Curzon’s entire digital experience. Omnia’s skilled designers, developers, testers, and all-round digital experts put together a completely tailor-made digital design seamlessly integrating home & in-theatre cinema to support Curzon’s business goals and meet their vision.
“Vista helped us find the right website architecture. One that enabled us to achieve our visitation of harmony between brand and customer experience throughout our platforms,” said Brend.
“Omnia offered a high level of customisation and digital agency quality design,” said Jen Lim, director of Digital Delivery at Vista. “The entire project was built for purpose with a unique feature set that went far beyond ticket purchase.”
Curzon’s ambitious redesign required a depth of technical customisation only possible with Omnia. It included cloud-hosting, an embedded payment connector, automation of film media content through MX Film and CDN, and a feature-rich membership section—with custom Loyalty and Subscriptions integrations into the video on demand (VOD) platform—as well as an innovative e-ticket, Living Ticket, which reflects live booking details and places moviegoers in control of their cinema experience.
“Vista provided a custom technical solution to achieve Curzon’s artistic goals, paired with a stunning moviegoer-centric experience that reflects a unique brand.”
“The Vista design team took our rebranded concepts and made everything look great on our sites,” said Brend. “They collaborated well with the rebranding team and brought many creative solutions to the table.”
One such solution was integration of Curzon’s Journal. As a point of difference, Curzon incorporates curated stills from films rather than using movie posters. The Omnia team knew the journal was an integral part of Curzon’s vision and made it an equally integral part of the cinema website.
“Our Journal is a great way to engage audiences and continue to interest them throughout the life of a film,” Brend explained. “Vista was very supportive in the integration of the Journal site, and with the heavy lifting to allow us to easily incorporate stills.”
After more than a year of closed sites, it was vital Curzon hit the ground running with their upgraded services.
Despite Curzon and the rebranding agency’s location in the UK and ScreenPlus—the VOD partner—being located in New Zealand, Vista ensured coordination was simple and smooth to ensure the project’s success, and enlisted experts from the UK, New Zealand, and the USA to assist. “The Vista team was very good at dealing with different time zones and prevented them from becoming an issue,” said Brend.
Vista had extensive experience with Curzon’s VOD platform, making them perfect for customising the membership programmes to work seamlessly across in-theatre and on-demand transactions.
“We don’t have an army of in-house developers, and we faced a time crunch with cinemas due to reopen, so we reached out to Vista to expand our capabilities and expedite the process.”
Omnia’s agile development model increased visibility over the project, and enabled teams to accommodate Curzon’s pressing timeline. Two-week sprints were established during designs, development, testing, and the go-live phase, with Curzon providing feedback at the end of each sprint, and all parties engaging in collaboration and parallel planning.
A new approach to driving loyalty
Alongside their website project, Curzon aimed to reorganise and standardise their membership packages, as well as add flexibility for their customers by allowing them to use membership credit anywhere they choose.
The biggest obstacle to achieving this was separate payment systems. Working with Vista, they streamlined the entire process, so customers can now use one membership for both Curzon Cinema and Curzon Home Cinema. As a result, Brend immediately saw an upsurge in crossover.
“There was an opportunity for better integration between our cinema and streaming offer, so we are delighted to now see many more Curzon Cinema users taking advantage of Curzon Home Cinema services, and vice versa.”
Membership enrolments have also seen a large increase, with paid memberships exceeding initial targets within a few weeks of launch.
A key part of Curzon’s moviegoer interactions is done through Movio Cinema. Movio Cinema allows exhibitors to personalise messages to moviegoers based on their propensity to see specific films, and execute campaigns effortlessly, making movie marketers’ jobs simple, accurate, and a measurable success.
“Movio has given us the ability to move beyond static HTML templates in our emails and has enhanced our messaging and opened up new revenue opportunities,” said Brend. “Movio’s analytics capabilities are valuable in understanding our diverse audiences, their needs, and what they buy.”
Curzon has been actively using its new website and the results have been more than satisfactory. “In a very short time, we got what we needed from the Vista team: shared payments, revenue expansion, consolidated memberships, and a single user experience and brand,” said Brend.
“The process for booking tickets has never been smoother and the number of paid subscribers is growing fast."
There is always a risk factor associated with making major changes to a company’s brand. Curzon management feared the loss of business during the transition, but in just two weeks following project completion, Brend was relieved to see the number of site visitors and revenue return to previous levels. “Despite an immense amount of change, the number of paid subscribers is growing fast,” said Brend.
The redesign improved more than just the customer experience. When No Time to Die was confirmed for showing in the UK, there was a short window to prepare. But with a reliable system in place, the Curzon team were effortlessly empowered to quickly start promoting the movie.
Looking ahead, Curzon's new website means the fundamentals of their business are now easily-scalable, creating a smooth pathway for expansion both within the UK and internationally. Engaging with their members is easier than ever, allowing members to take full advantage of their incredible cinema and VOD offering.
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Established in 1934 with the opening of Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Cinema operates and programs 20 theatres and 46 screens in London and the south of England. Curzon is a pioneer of specialised exhibition and has been the United Kingdom’s most respected name in arthouse and specialty films for 85 years.
In 2006, Curzon acquired the distribution company Artificial Eye, and they have released several Bafta and Oscar winners over the years. In 2010, Curzon became an early streaming innovator with the launch of Curzon Home Cinema, providing the latest cinema releases as well as classics to watch from the comfort of your home.
The company continues to foster a community of film enthusiasts as part of Cohen Media Group, an Academy Award-winning independent theatrical distribution and production company. Find out more at www.curzon.com.
Vista is the world leader in cinema management software solutions. Founded in Auckland in 1996, our growth has led to installations in more than 100 countries and an estimated 51% global market share of the large cinema circuit outside of China. Our love of cinema is evident from the innovation of our products through to our industry dedication, along with the extraordinary skill set of our team and ability to adapt to the ever-changing consumer landscape. These attributes, combined with the service we provide to our global community of customers, have made us the industry leader we are today. Vista is a company of Vista Group International Ltd (NZX/ASX:VGL).
Movio is the global leader in marketing data analytics and campaign management solutions, revolutionizing the way the film industry interacts with moviegoers. Movio is the world’s most comprehensive source of moviegoer data and has products designed specifically with the challenges of movie marketing in mind. Movie lovers at heart, it’s our mission to connect everyone with their ideal movie. Movio is a company of Vista Group International Ltd (NZX/ASX:VGL).