Hoyts ditches Telstra as internet costs bite

Australian cinema giant Hoyts has just completed a move from Telstra to TPG for its internet service, citing spiralling costs as the primary reason for the migration.

Australian cinema giant Hoyts has just completed a move from Telstra to TPG for its internet service, citing spiralling costs as the primary reason for the migration.


(Credit: Film Projector Lens image by Daniel Leininger, CC 2.0)

Speaking to ZDNet Australia at the launch of the new QkR in-cinema ordering system last night, Chris Robinson, support services manager for Hoyts Australia, said that the cinema chain has just finished moving its nationwide internet business to TPG.

"We left [Telstra] due to [high] costs," Robinson said, adding that Hoyts doesn't have just the connectivity needs of its cinemas to consider.

"We have Hoyts and Val Morgan, for shopping centres and cinema [advertising]," he said. So far, TPG has come through with the goods for the Hoyts Corporation. "TPG were the best on price, they're great in customer service and the coverage is always there."

Hoyts' ISP migration is just one aspect of a larger plan in place to bolster the technology backbone of the cinema network to better serve customers, according to Robinson.

The QkR app is a world first on in-cinema ordering technology, developed in tandem with MasterCard Labs. The app allows La Premiere patrons to order food and drinks right to their seats during a movie, eliminating the need for them to leave the cinema midway through the movie. Matthew Ezra, director of Retail, Food and Beverage for Hoyts, said that the company deferred the launch of the service pre-Christmas to avoid giving people a botched experience.

"We had hopes that it might have happened [before Christmas], but for Hoyts, Boxing Day week is the busiest. We didn't want a bad consumer experience," said Ezra of the app.

"We weren't comfortable rolling it out pre-Christmas. We had issues with telcos and reception, scanning issues, the difference between 2D and 3D QR codes," Ezra added.

Wireless connection in particular was an issue, Ezra said. The app itself requires an active data connection to function, which, in some instances, has presented a challenge to Robinson and his team.

As a result, Hoyts is currently in talks with all of the major telcos to boost the signal inside Hoyts cinemas to allow customers to take advantage of the new technology.

"If you didn't have [phone] reception, you couldn't order," Robinson said of the app. "Vodafone seems to be the weakest across the board," Robinson added, while mentioning that Hoyts is talking with the once-beleaguered telco about installing signal boosters to counter said problem.

Robinson and his team are also considering in-cinema Wi-Fi for cinema patrons at some point in the future.

Ezra said that the consideration will depend on how the deployment of mobile, Wi-Fi-enabled candy-bar carts, which are directly integrated into the existing point-of-sale system, fares with customers.

Ezra told ZDNet Australia that Hoyts is set to deploy 40 Wi-Fi-enabled candy-bar carts to 20 sites around the country.

When you come into the cinema, the mission is to get yourself the best seat, he said, adding that in future, it might be an option for users outside of La Premiere to order food directly to their seats, so that they don't have to give up a prime position.


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