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Case study: Soho theatre and cinema club
The Soho theatre and cinema club is a well-known club located in London. It is a mid-scale venue adapted from a Victorian building that houses both a theatre and cinema rooms. Since 2000 the club has forged a commitment to, and a reputation for, high quality accessible performances and movies for all. The theatre, with its beautiful stage and intimate auditorium, it is ideally suited to the presentation of various types of performances such as musicals, dramas, comedies and tragedies, while the cinema rooms with their modern 4D screens become an attraction for younger audiences. The theatre runs daily scheduled evening performances except Sundays and has an additional scheduled matinee (afternoon) performance on Saturdays. From time to time, there are additional special matinee performances of plays, mainly for children. Children and OAPs (Old Age Pensioners) are given a 20% reduction. The cinema on the other hand runs daily movies and on weekends, they play children movies in addition to the already existing schedule.
Theatre tickets can be booked in one of the following ways:
1. Customers can phone up to book tickets with their credit cards, paying on booking. The operator then provides them with a confirmation id. On the day of the performance the customers can collect their tickets from the special collection booths, using their credit cards.
2. Customers can go to the ticket office during working hours and buy the tickets with cash, cheque or credit card. In the last hour before the start of a performance, this method incurs a 10% discount on the full price.
3. Agencies and social clubs can phone to book tickets. These are charged directly to accounts they hold with the theatre. There is a discount of at least 5% on the nominal price. This is increased by a further 5% for bookings of more than 20 tickets for a single performance. Theatre ticket prices vary depending on the performance and the location of the seats (For example band A is the closest to the stage, and therefore the most expensive, while band B and C are further behind). For each band, there is a different price for each performance.
Cinema tickets are usually purchased on the day of the performance, where customers can pay by cash or credit card and receive their ticket at that time. The Soho theatre and cinema club is at the moment controlled by the Soho Cultural Centre Authority.
The Board of Directors of the Soho Cultural Centre Authority have decided that it is now time for the development of a software system which will facilitate the automatic booking of tickets for theatre performances and movies.
They believe that having such an automated system will save them time and money as the sales staff at the theatre and cinema counters will not have to manually be filtering such information and thus they will be able to serve more customers.
However, the sales staff are not particularly keen on the development of a computerised system. Most of them have been working there for years and therefore they prefer sticking to their old way of working rather than having to deal with computers.
They are reluctant to go through training and they don’t see the value of automating the process of booking tickets. The Board of Directors still believe this will speed up work. Their vision is to attract more customers and they believe that this new system has a great potential in helping them to achieve that. They are also thinking to provide customers with cheaper options of theatre ticket bookings such as booking theatre packages (book for 4 plays and get one ticket free), or the weekday’s special offers (watch a play any day between Monday and Thursday with a 10% discount). Regarding cinema tickets, they are thinking to provide customers with BOGOF (buy one get one free) cinema ticket options, as well as with family deals for weekends.
The Board of directors believe that one of the keys to increase sales is to expand their services by housing theatre plays that might appeal more the younger audience.
The sales staff, however, feel that promoting such plays might risk their reputation of providing high quality performances. With the theatre and cinema industry affected by the economic crisis, the Board of Directors believe that by expanding their services and providing other options for customers to book tickets, such as by allowing those to browse their online plays list and movies lists and place orders online at a discounted price will enable them to attract new customers and increase market share.
They also feel that by allowing customers to share/write their honest views about a play or a movie and their experience at the Soho theatre and cinema club online, will have a positive impact on their reputation.
A new option the system shall support is therefore for Customers to leave their honest reviews about the service provided and the plays.
Both sales staff and customers should be able to read those reviews. Customers should also be able to order tickets online (both theatre and cinema tickets) using conventional electronic “shopping basket” and “check out” functionality.
Customers should be able to choose between the different theatre packages, special offers, or get the BOGOF special offer for cinema tickets when they place their order.
All online payments will be by credit card. The checking of credit card details will be done by the theatre’s bank, through a link to a system known as VISACheck.
The VISACheck system acts as an interface between the theatre and their bank’s credit check services. Customers will have the option to choose from several different shipping methods and rates based on a formula related to the urgency of an order, or collect their tickets on the day of the performance or the movie from the special collection booths, using their credit card.
During the process of booking either theatre or movie performances, the system should allow the operator, or the customer (if this happens online) to select the seats to be booked on a graphical representation of a seating plan, mark them as booked, calculate the individual and total prices and issue a reservation slip.
The system should also check availability of the different movies and theatre performances before processing the payment. When processing a payment, the system will print the tickets and produce a receipt showing a breakdown of the total payment.
The system should also be able to capture the sales, in order to determine statistical information about customer preferences. Based on these profiles built over time, the system should be able to assess what special offers on selected items can be sent to customers as well as possible suggestions for new movies or theatre performances they may be interested in.
Before a customer is sent a special offer their profile will need to be checked for eligibility (age etc.). Once eligibility has been confirmed, the system will send the customer their special offer. Note that special offers are valid for a 30-day time period from the date of issue, and apply only to one customer profile.
If a customer wishes to use their special offer, then they will need to insert the special offer code, while in the process of ordering.
The system should therefore be able to check that the offer is still valid and that it has not been reused.
Sales staff on their end will have to read and respond to customers’ queries if there are any.
They will also handle any online orders that are flagged with problems during the otherwise automatic online ordering and shipping request process.
Some of their actions include placing an order on behalf of a customer, add theatre performances to the system, and prepare the schedule for movies.
Sales staff should also be able to use the system to respond to a customer’s review.
You are consultants called in to assist the Soho theatre and cinema club with the analysis, design and development of their new system. They have a tight deadline of 6 months for the system to go live, staff should be trained within 2 weeks and the analysis, design and development of the new system should be within the budget of £80,000 as decided by the Board of Directors.