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Giving Theaters Luxury Cred

Private theater professionals share a singular goal: To have the opportunity to provide our best efforts to as many appreciative clients as possible.

Private theater professionals share a singular goal: To have the opportunity to provide our best efforts to as many appreciative clients as possible. But isn’t it ironic how many potential clients do not even know what owning a private theater means? Contrast that to potential luxury car or yacht buyers, who will generally have a powerful vision of what they expect to gain from acquiring these luxuries. The harsh truth is that while owning certain luxury items is typically respected, the value of owning a private theater is a mystery to many.

We can learn much from our more established competitive luxuries. Starting with how they deal with technology. Certainly automobile companies talk about power, handling, and more. But first they have established that these things are beneficial. No one questions that a sports car needs to go fast and handle well. But in the private theater world, we find ourselves boring our clients with STC, SPL, 4K, and 3D, all the while they are thinking NBD (no big deal). What we often forget is F.U.N. It is really fun to get so lost in the action scene of a movie that you forget where you are. More people need to know this!

A well-executed private theater like this inspires date nights and family and social gatherings that might otherwise be missed.

How about the enrichment of a client’s life experience? Let’s look at gourmet cooking. People of “established means” realize the value of being able to recognize fine food. Cooking classes, reality TV, even cooking themed vacations are commonplace. If a La Cornue oven in my kitchen will enhance my gourmand lifestyle, the answer is yes, please! But what do our clients tell us? “I don’t listen to music much” or “I don’t know what good sound means.” This comes from the same people who would never admit that they can’t discern between $200 an ounce and $3 a gallon balsamic vinaigrette.

Where have we gone wrong? It’s not all our fault. We are a comparatively young industry. Where generations have owned Bentleys and Patek Philippe wristwatches have been passed down from the 19th century, we are still finding our way. But it is time to act before our window of opportunity passes us by. Here are some steps we can take:

Discover and Apply. Learn about your prospective client and relate the experience to them in a personal way. What experiences have they had (or dreamed about) relating to sound, video, movies, music, etc.? A concert violinist and a CFO have more in common than you might think, if you are smart about it. They both have two ears, a brain, and a heart. Our sense of hearing is a powerful element in our lives, but it’s largely underappreciated. Sound is our advance warning system for danger and provides our sense of the spaces that we inhabit. On the other side, it is a rich experiential sense. The rewarding experience of hearing a beautifully resonant instrument, well played in a room that enriches the performance has been appreciated for centuries. The musician knows this, but for the CFO client, you have an opportunity to add a new “gourmet experience.”

Paint Word Pictures. A well-executed private theater will provide what is called, “The willing suspension of disbelief.” This means that when viewing a film or watching a performance in the room, participants will allow themselves to be “transported.” This means that they’re either “lost” in the action or drama or feel “present” in the hall where the concert was recorded live. Describe a meaningful example for your client, such as the final note fading away from that memorable concert or the terror on the station attendant’s face as the killer flips a coin for his life. These rich sensory experiences can only be reproduced in the finest private theaters.

Touch Their Heart. Luxury purchases are emotional, not rational. When $23M was paid for a Patek Philippe it was not because of its ability to tell time, but because of the value the buyer put on each moment of his life. Tell stories of how a private theater has done this for others. For instance, there was the couple who, after watching their first movie in their new private theater, realized that this was the first time they had watched a movie together for years. They now have a weekly date night in their private theater.

So, next time you are tempted to present a technology-filled brochure or a bill of materials to a prospective client, ask yourself, “Have I appealed to their senses, inspired their passions, and touched their heart?” If not, the information is meaningless. If you have, it is superfluous.