MovieTeam: Reimagining staff scheduling for cinemas

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We have a saying at Vista that we like to do “good things with good people”. It is a foundation of our business, and it resonates throughout the company and our wider business community.

Over the last 20 years, we’ve developed great relationships with the people who work in the heart of the global cinema industry. Based on their input, Vista has developed an interconnected product portfolio specializing in meeting the needs of cinemas and desires of moviegoers from around the world. Our latest product, MovieTeam, is a direct response to actively listening to our customers, understanding their businesses, and innovating with them in mind. 

Vista first identified the demand for a product such as MovieTeam through conversations with existing and potential customers, particularly around the time leading up to the implementation of the regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) in the USA. Talking to cinema owners, it was clear they wanted a system that was modern, accessible, transparent, and user-friendly. There wasn’t a cloud-based, mobile-ready staff scheduling product that catered specifically to the cinema industry while also helping exhibitors to keep track of all of the complex laws and regulations.

The Vista Cinema offering already included the Vista Staff Scheduling module. However, it is based on older technology, tending traditionally, to limit its use to the dark offices buried behind the projectors on the second floors of movie theaters. With the growth of the Vista USA office it was possible to base the project in Los Angeles, at the same time maintaining Vista’s commitment to existing development processes and, to producing high-caliber software. Building the new application in the cloud was a no-brainer; it brings cinema staff scheduling into the 21st century, the palms of everyone’s hands, and to the forefront of the business at a time when both accessibility and mobility is essential.

With that in mind, Vista launched an intensive development process for a new cloud-based theater staff scheduling application, MovieTeam. It’s the first ever cinema-centric solution for all staffing needs, including adaptable business-rule logic to assist MovieTeam customers with staying well-informed and on top of the complex new regulations.

A key partnership began early on in the project that was absolutely essential to the successful development of MovieTeam. Vista USA’s president Derek Forbes started conversations with Harkins Theaters, the largest independent theater owner in the USA and fifth largest cinema chain in the country, about coming on board as a beta development partner. Harkins is a respected and trusted Vista customer — like Vista, their people like to do things the ‘right way’ and they have a strong sense of integrity combined with a passion for innovation. Harkins knew that the MovieTeam project with Vista would deliver robust, high-quality software while helping to foster a partnership that would benefit both parties. The proof is in the numbers: Harkins estimate that staff scheduling using MovieTeam takes only 25% of the time it took with their previous solution!

There are some vast differences when staffing a movie theater compared to other entertainment operations. Movie theaters tend to employ a lot of students (16 to 30-year-olds), retirees, and seasonal staff that might work for a summer or a holiday period but not much longer. The aim behind MovieTeam is to take into account this fluctuating availability while streamlining the scheduling process and seamlessly integrating the needs of corporate HQ, cinema management, and cinema staff. While this concept isn’t new, what is new is that MovieTeam offers this flexibility specifically for cinemas. When working in a restaurant, for example, the staffing demands for any given day are most likely similar to the same day in the previous year, allowing one to historically program the schedule for new employees. In theaters, the schedule is based on the films screened from week to week and the number of people coming into the theater. Therefore, theater scheduling is highly variable and based on a combination of the films playing, how they relate to historically similar films, as well as the past attendance for the same week in previous years. MovieTeam leverages this existing data to help build better schedules. 

MovieTeam reimagines staff scheduling for cinemas. The idea that people at all levels are the most pivotal and important asset for any business, organization, or group is at the core of MovieTeam. Every cinema owner, no matter the size of their organization, wants a product that makes the management of theater staffing more efficient, more accessible, and more empathetic to staff needs.

Having good relationships with good people has enabled the collaboration between Harkins and Vista to be successful. Not only does this relationship extend to our customers and business partners, but it’s also highly important within Vista. Members of various teams, including the architecture and UI/UX teams from Vista’s New Zealand HQ, have consulted on the development of the product. It is a credit to the team environment that Vista cultivates and hopes to extend to your team, your MovieTeam.

MovieTeam joins the Vista Group family of product offerings and is supported by the large amount of film and cinema industry knowledge that powers all Vista Group products. Without the good relationships developed with people throughout the industry, MovieTeam would not be available to empower managers and staff alike. MovieTeam is developed with cinema owners and their people in mind, reimagining staff scheduling for cinemas. Vista Group is very excited for our customers and grateful to Harkins Theaters for their collaboration and enthusiasm.

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