Last week, we flew to Las Vegas for ShoWest - the national convention of the movie theater industry. Being new in the industry, we didn't know much about it, nor did we think much of it. In the weeks leading up to the show, however, we heard from a few counterparts and vendors, "See you in Vegas in March?" or "Hey, are you going to the Show?!"
And now we know - the movie theater industry is not one to be taken lightly.
We left Hagerstown in the early hours of Tuesday and hopped on a westbound plane. After two flights and a 3-hour layover in Los Angeles, we descended on Las Vegas. The convention was held at Paris and Bally's; we quickly dropped our bags at our hotel - the beautiful Belaggio - and made our way across the street.
The venue was enormous and filled with thousands of movie buffs, theater owners, concession companies, ticketing software companies and industry organizations. We quickly registered, got our credentials for the events (those cool, VIP-looking badges you wear around your neck) and started exploring.
On our agenda:
- find a ticket software program
- find a concessions company
- look into aisle lighting
- find affordable theater carpet companies
- research popcorn equipment
- research online ticket sales
- win a few hands of blackjack
By the end of Tuesday, we had a handful of brochures and informational packets and a pocketful of business cards. Amongst our hunting, we even stumbled upon some great marketing idea and a couple tasty popcorn samples.
We headed back to our hotel to digest the information from the day and prepare for Wednesday; we still had quite a to-do list to tackle in one day. The Belaggio was a perfect place to recharge; dinner in one of the hotel's many restaurants, Sensi, was fabulous and the creative, colorful decor of the hotel was inspiring.
We used all of Wednesday talking theater business with industry leaders, from companies like Fandango and RC Theaters. I think we had that "fish out of water" feeling initially; here we are amongst the big dogs in the industry, little Leitersburg Cinemas! Being that we're a new company and a new brand, companies were excited to see that we were starting fresh, from scratch.
It seems the latest trend in the movie theater industry is focused on enhancing the whole experience of a night at the movies. Movie theaters around the country are focusing on the concept of dinner and a movie and making "going to the movies" more glam than a ticket stub, popcorn and a soda. Theaters are integrating 3D technology, full restaurants and bars into the theater facilities.
We caught a red eye flight back to Maryland on Wednesday night. Nothing like jet-setting to Vegas for 35 hours of movie theater one-stop shopping...and a few games of blackjack.