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Imagine using your smartphone or tablet to reserve movie tickets while you’re still finishing dessert at the restaurant. With Kinepolis, you can. To guarantee the availability and performance of its ticketing system, Kinepolis relies on the virtual datacenter solution vContainer from Belgacom.
The Kinepolis Group was created in 1997, but had already built up extensive experience in movie theatres by that time. The company’s roots can be traced back to the 1960s. Innovation has always been an important focus for Kinepolis. Early on, the group saw potential in the online sales of movie tickets. In 2007, Kinepolis was the first to launch the option to reserve seats at the same time as purchasing tickets online. “Selling tickets online gives us two advantages,” says Stephane Jans, CIO at Kinepolis. “First of all, we can offer greater comfort for our visitors. They can take their time buying tickets and reserve their seats from home. That makes a night out at the movies a completely relaxing experience. What’s more, we sell fewer tickets onsite at the movie theatres, which frees up our staff’s time to concentrate on activities with more added value.”
Currently, Kinepolis sells some 30% of its movie tickets online. This is a share that’s bound to grow further in the near future. “The use of mobile devices plays a big role here,” notes Stephane Jans. “We developed a webapp that lets visitors buy their tickets with their smartphones and tablets as well. This way, we expect to see not only an increase in the number of users of our systems, but also in terms of the timing of the purchase.” The traditional peak in the online sales is around 6 p.m., when people decide to go out to the cinema that night. Being able to access the ordering system mobilely will increase that peak, but will also shift it in time. “One potential scenario is that more visitors will buy mobile tickets just before the start of the film,” points out Stephane Jans. “These visitors may already have arrived at the theatre, but this way they can skip the lines at the cash register.”
Covering unpredictable capacity
The online sale of tickets is on the rise. The company wants to be able to serve its customers any time, regardless of how and when the online sales may increase. “In order to be able to handle unexpected and hard-to-predict peak traffic, we need our capacity to be elastic,” says Jo De Pelsmaeker, ICT-Infrastructure Manager at Kinepolis. This realization presented Kinepolis with a classic IT problem. How can you invest in infrastructure if you don’t know how much capacity you will need in advance? The solution will turn out either too small, with all the consequences this will bring for the quality of service during peak periods, or it will be big enough to handle peak demand, but a large portion of the capacity will remain underused the rest of the time.
Handling peaks with vContainer
Kinepolis found the answer they were looking for in the vContainer solution from Belgacom. This is a cloud service that allows Kinepolis to access its own flexible virtual datacenter through Belgacom. “What counts for us is the scalability of the solution,” continues Jo De Pelsmaeker. “It offers us a very easy way to handle peak periods. If the traffic on the ticketing system is low, then we can temporarily switch off vContainer.” The solution does not require any upfront investment in excessive capacity. Kinepolis pays for the service according to consumption. An additional advantage is that the solution was easy to fit within the broader IT environment at Kinepolis. “Our theatre complexes are connected via Belgacom Explore,” explains Jo De Pelsmaeker. “For us, it was a big advantage that Explore and vContainer can be seamlessly integrated.” With vContainer at its disposal, Kinepolis doesn’t have to worry if mobile movie ticket sales suddenly take off in a big way. “We fully believe that this is going to happen,” concludes Stephane Jans. “The maturity of the mobile devices makes it possible. It adds an extra element to the cinema experience for moviegoers.”
Kinepolis Group provides an innovative, cuttingedge cinema concept in 23 movie theaters throughout Europe. The group is also active in film distribution, events organization, onscreen advertising and real estate management, as well as in the sale and installation of movie theater equipment. Its workforce of 1,800 employees serves 20 million moviegoers each year.
For more information on vContainer, visit the Belgacom website or contact your Account Manager.
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