Have Secret Cinema just learnt a surprise lesson about visitor value for money?

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Have Secret Cinema just learnt a surprise lesson about visitor value for money?


Even a passing glance at social media or the event press yesterday and you couldn’t have missed the frustration being vented in the direction of Secret Cinema after the cancellation of their first Back to the Future screening last night.

As one of the originators of the “Pimp my Cinema” craze now leaking out of the capital, Secret Cinema promised ticket holders an immersive way to experience a much loved film, with food, live action, and the all important element of secrecy.

So when a last-minute cancellation was announced via social media (cinema goers are asked to leave their phones at home) many ticket holders were treated to a surprising and interactive trip to Hackney Wick overground station, and then probably on to a local pub, all dressed in their 50’s finery.

But interestingly, when hacked-off ticket holders took to social media to make their feelings known, it wasn’t the head-in-ground approach to customer communication that really wrangled.

The sentiment expressed again and again was the eye-wateringly high ticket price (£56!!!) plus the investment in fancy dress, not to mention anyone foolish enough not to actually already live in London who needed to travel, all leaving punters feeling well and truly out of pocket and to an extent, scammed.

Here’s just a selection of the disgruntled posts:

“Totally disrespectful to the people who have paid so much money”

“I am about £400 down in all. Really utterly annoyed”  

 “You charge as much as a festival are you kidding me??!!”

“Charged a ridiculous price for tickets and can’t even get their sh1t together to deliver.”  


It seems that Secret Cinema have found that tipping point where their punters only barely perceive the event to offer value for money.  So any slip in delivery leaves them feeling pretty outraged. And not afraid to tell the world about it.

It’s a risky strategy to push your ticket price so high that your customer’s expectations can only be met in the best possible scenario – to erode any sense of partnership so far that there is no willingness to forgive when things don’t go to plan.

Events like CarFest and The Photography Show constantly monitor their customer’s perception of value for money to ensure that whilst their event is profitable, their visitors still feel fairly treated.  And whilst it seems unlikely that both these award-winning events would ever find themselves in a pickle approaching that of Secret Cinema, should the worse happen they might just find their customers offer understanding rather than condemnation.

Both these events have earned some of the highest net promoter scores in their sectors – I wonder how likely last night’s cinema goers are to recommend Secret Cinema to a friend?


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