The Next Thing in Theaters and Museums

It is funny how your mind wanders as you sit quietly in front of a water fountain. I sat for a moment or two while my wife and daughter stood in line at a box office to get a ticket. I could not help to think about how antiquated that solution is in today's digital economy.

Why can't I insert a credit card in a turn style and select the number of tickets? Why does this line exist?

I just did a similar thing yesterday when I experienced a human-less automation of a task. I rolled into a parking garage and got a ticket from a kiosk. I parked. Upon my return, I stopped at a kiosk, inserted my ticket, and was asked for payment. I inserted my credit card. It returned my ticket. On the way out, I inserted my ticket into another kiosk and the gate opened. No ticket office. No human. Easy.

Why do we need servers for popcorn, hotdogs, sodas, and candy? All of these can come from dispensers. Surely the hotdogs would not be any better or worse - soggy stale-tasting buns and all.

As I gazed at the fountain, which was lovely, I took a virtual stroll though a movie theatre of my imagination. There was no box office outside. I walked in where there was an automated concession. Surrounding the concession there were digital signs showing the movie names and start times. I collected my unhealthy snacks and headed to the turnstile of the movie of my choice. I inserted my card and walked in. The same pre-roll advertising streamed to the projector from a server somewhere, followed by a killer HD movie in Dolby Surround Sound (TM). When the movie was finished, I wandered next door and slid my card again to watch another movie....

I am not sure how much time passed as I gazed at the fountain. It must have been 5 or more minutes. Somewhere, someone must be thinking of movie theatre automation. The same must be considered for museums, sporting events, and any other live venue.

Goodbye Box Office. Your days are numbered, and truthfully - nobody is likely to miss you.

Next time you are in Los Angeles, take a ride down Broadway. I did before my mind wondered to this place. You will see theatre marquees lining the street signaling that the theatre industry is dead. Like the famous Rialto, these once great spaces used to premier films are now relegated to chain stores like Urban Outfitters.

In truth, these stores are revitalizing the area, which is supported by art museums and anchored by the amazing Walt Disney Concert Hall (Where my daughter adores seeing live shows).

Perhaps a little automation will help salvage a few more of these old venues. Perhaps the nearby Dodger Stadium or Staples Center can also do away with those pesky box offices and improve customer service and their profitability.

I have my ticket now - time to move along to the next line - where the guy stands there to take my newly purchased ticket from me and tear it in half. Do you think they recycle?

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