The Movie Theater business is exactly that….a business. We go to be entertained but to the owner and employees, it’s a job: a business, a livelihood, it’s how they pay their bills. Theater owners face the same challenges that private-practice hearing care providers face, or any business, for that matter. They need to manage the P&L, hire and train employees, market and remain current. They have to maintain their facilities and equipment. Relationships with suppliers of their “product” are as important to them as they are to us. In fact, we should be glad we don’t have to “buy” their product; the movie studios often require 100% of the gross revenue in the early weeks of a film’s showing.
In many communities, there is lots of competition for discretionary entertainment dollars. Patrons will not spend their money to go to a movie theater that doesn’t show quality and/or current films. They won’t go if the seats are uncomfortable, the floors are dirty or the employees are rude. They won’t go if they can’t hear the movie.
We were fortunate to come to know a long-time local theater owner. He shared with us the many complaints that he and his employees get from people with hearing loss. While the theater complies with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the solution they had in place was inadequate in many ways. We explained induction loop technology and he gave us the key. Literally! We had the key to his theater with a carte blanche invitation to “fix it.”
Our approach has been to do all of the work as well as shoulder the entire cost of installation. In return for our investment, we will get marketing support and partnership from this theater as well as the other this theaters this gentleman owns in our county. Specifically:
- On-screen advertising
- A mention in each and every newspaper ad they run
- A reference to the system in every mailing or marketing campaign the theater sends out
- Signs and rack cards in the theater
- A stack of tickets that we can offer to people during their trial periods. “Here, take this ticket, choose the movie you’d like to see, push this button on your hearing aid (or remote) and come and tell us how it went at your next follow up”
- An open invitation to use their “café” type area or one of the auditoriums for consumer seminars
- Good Public Relations – We have already had a nice write up by a local, very well read columnist
- Lots of happy “movie going” existing patients, many of whom will tell their friends about their experience.
For the theater, the benefits are obvious. We, as a medium-sized practice, will send people their way with regularity. These folks will get one “free” ticket, but they will have to buy the rest. If they can hear and enjoy the movie, they will be so much more likely to go and spend their money. The “goodwill” garnered by serving the needs of those with hearing loss in the community can’t be a bad thing either.
This theater company and its new listening system has been mentioned in their industry trade magazines. Other theater owners have contacted them to see what this is all about. Could it possibly be that the way to create more access for those with hearing loss via loops doesn’t start with the consumer or the hearing care professional? Could it be that others will drive the “Get in the Hearing Loop” initiative because it’s good for business, in general?
If you’ve read my earlier posts about our personal experiences with looping, it seems that it will have to be someone besides hearing care professionals that must drive.