‘Canada’s premier social destinations’. That’s how Cineplex Entertainment, Canada’s dominant film exhibitor, describes its five Rec Rooms.
The first opened its doors in Edmonton in September 2016, the 60,000 square feet destination housing restaurants, sports bar, gaming and even axe-throwing - all under one roof. Since then another has opened in Edmonton and now Calgary, Toronto and London have their own Rec Rooms.
Prior to the opening of the first Rec Room, Cineplex already had a 13-year long relationship with Vista as its provider of the cinema management software Cineplex uses.
In choosing which Food and Beverage system it would utilize in the Rec Room, Cineplex had a long list of requirements, according to Stephen Anastasi, The Rec Room’s Director of Technology. And Vista was only one of a number of potential collaborators.
“It was very blue sky. We wanted to know what the guest journey was going to look like, and the employee journey. We amassed a list of functional components and features as they related to guests, to servers and to central office management and we conducted extensive research with key staff such as the executive chef and with other leading F&B operators,” says Stephen.
The stakes were high: “It came down to the 15 key features we wanted from a POS suite, including integration to Cineplex’s SCENE Loyalty Program and to existing business systems, handling multiple kitchens and items-based routes. If we couldn’t get all or most of these up and running, the Rec Room wasn’t going to be successful,” says Stephen.
The result demonstrated that Vista’s software could integrate easily with existing systems and demonstrated that it could operate successfully in a high-pressure, high-volume F&B restaurant environment.
Cineplex weighed up a number of different offerings. However, unlike Vista F&B, rival POS suites weren’t able to handle multiple kitchens. Nor could they integrate seamlessly with SCENE.
“We were across the street from our cinema and we wanted to recognise and reward event combos for guests,” says Stephen.
But in the end, the collective decision to go with Vista was quick and easy “because Vista on POS was flexible, scalable and replicable across all of our restaurants”.
Dave Smith, Head of Customer Success at Vista, says dozens of Vista staff spent months collaborating with Cineplex on the Rec Room project.
“We designed the software so that Cineplex could build their own website on top of it, enabling them to provide online reservations without using a third-party,” he says.
“The result demonstrated that Vista’s software could integrate easily with existing systems and demonstrated that it could operate successfully in a high-pressure, high-volume F&B restaurant environment,” says Dave.
Cineplex themselves couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
At a recent internal quarterly review, the restaurant service and kitchen departments hailed the stability of Vista F&B. One member, who was originally in favour of a rival system, said: “This stability is unheard of in the F&B industry. The rival system would have gone down at least six times by now, which would have required pen and paper for a few hours each time.”
The ongoing partnership between Cineplex and Vista has continued, with more innovation and development. Due to the high volume of advanced bookings for tables on each site, table bookings and kitchen screen functionality have been enhanced.
Jeffrey Kent, Cineplex’s Chief Technology Officer, sums up the long-running relationship between Vista and Cineplex: “What we like about Vista is that they’re very innovative. They’ve been true partners on the Rec Room journey and our development of what we call the ultimate social playground.”
A leading entertainment and media company, Cineplex (TSX:CGX) is a top-tier Canadian brand that operates in the Film Entertainment and Content, Amusement and Leisure, and Media sectors. As Canada’s largest and most innovative film exhibitor, Cineplex welcomes over 70 million guests annually through its circuit of 164 theatres across the country. Cineplex also operates successful businesses in digital commerce (CineplexStore.com), food service, alternative programming (Cineplex Events), cinema media (Cineplex Media), digital place-based media (Cineplex Digital Media), amusement solutions (Player One Amusement Group) and an online eSports platform for competitive and passionate gamers (WorldGaming.com). Additionally, Cineplex operates a location based entertainment business through Canada’s newest destination for ‘Eats & Entertainment’ (The Rec Room), and will also be opening new complexes specially designed for teens and families (Playdium) as well as exciting new sports and entertainment venues across Canada (Topgolf). Cineplex is a joint venture partner in SCENE, Canada’s largest entertainment loyalty program.