Cinema-goers seek better ticket system

National 5 minutes, 3 seconds


CINEMA-GOERS hold mixed opinions about the various ticketing systems used by cinemas in Brunei.

The Brunei Times yesterday visited The Mall Cineplex, Times Cineplex, and the Seri Qlap Cineplex, to check on the efficiency and reliability of cinema-ticket booking services available to cinema-goers.

In the case of The Mall Cineplex, arguably the nation’s most popular cinema, cinema-goers who were interviewed expressed that the phone line is often busy when they try to make phone bookings.

One cinema-goer, 23-year-old Rain Hebijen Bernaldez, said that he goes to this cinema frequently, and that he was used to booking his tickets via the cineplex’s online ticketing system.

“The phone line is often busy when I have tried calling in the past, and I find the online system to be quite good,” he added.

Yet, according to an interview with an employee of The Mall Cineplex, there is a reason for this.

“The phone line is always busy simply because there are always customers calling.

“This is why we often recommend our online ticketing system to our customers, as it will allow them to get their tickets easier,” he said.

However, Tity Japar, a mother who was seen with her husband and three children queuing in line for tickets, said that she had tried making an online booking before, but found that it did not work as well as she expected it too.

“We were unable to buy tickets, so these days we prefer to just buy our tickets over the counter,” she said.

Md Asyraf Saini, a 16-year-old student, shared similar sentiments.

“It’s easier to just walk in and buy tickets, because I do not really know how to use the online system,” he said.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Phang Shew Min, a bank clerk, said that she was unaware that an online ticketing system existed, and had attempted to call the cineplex eight times, before making a decision to buy the tickets over the counter.

According to the information provided on The Mall Cineplex website, there are ticket booking and ticket collection procedures in place.

In the case of “blockbuster movies”, tickets booked more than a day in advance have to be collected the day before the movie, while tickets that are booked on the same day as the show will have to be collected an hour before the movie. For “normal movies”, tickets will have to be collected 30 minutes before showtime.

The Mall Cineplex cinema-goers can text a “ticketing counter” number provided on the website if they are running late, to “confirm” or “cancel” a ticket booking.

Twenty-four year-old recently graduated Sharon Lim recalls a bad experience in which her booked tickets were cancelled without notice. “I think having to pick up the tickets an hour before is quite inconvenient, especially since the phone line is always busy.”

“I know there is a number to text to ‘confirm’ the tickets, but I can’t remember it,” she said.

According to the Cineplex employee, although SMS messages will be received, customers will not get a text reply back.

“The reason that you have to cancel your booking or collect your tickets an hour before the show, is so other (walk-in) customers are allowed a chance to get seats,” he explained.

He further said that the cinema employees “can always make a new booking for [customers] if their original tickets have been cancelled”.

Twenty-one year-old Alvina Lau, an accounts executive, shared an anecdote about her pleasant experience in dealing with the cinema.

“We made two bookings for today three days in advance, but I forgot to collect the tickets a day in advance, which was yesterday.

“One of our bookings was cancelled, but the cinema staff resolved it quite well. They managed to get us other seats for the same movie,” she said. Alvina added that she still thinks it would be better if all cinema tickets could be collected on the day of the show itself, to save her a car trip.

However, 21-year-old student Hanah Cheong recalls an unhappy experience in which she missed out on tickets to a sold-out movie.

When Hanah attempted to purchase tickets over the counter, she was told by an employee at the ticketing counter that the movie was fully “booked” by customers.

“We couldn’t buy the tickets even though we wanted to.

“But when they did release cancelled tickets for sale to the public, the employees did not prioritise my family and I, who had been patiently waiting for the tickets right beside the counter,” she explained. Instead, Hanah said, when tickets did become available, the cinema employees sold them to walk-in customers who wanted to buy tickets for the same movie.

Meanwhile, another student, Helmi Amir, 21, praised the Mall Cineplex for its online booking system, and said that he was fine with having to pick up the tickets an hour in advance.

“If I really wanted to watch the movie, I don’t mind making an effort to get tickets,” he said.

He further stated that the Times Cineplex (located in Times Square, Berakas) fared better to The Mall Cineplex when it comes to phone bookings, but said that it could also be quite busy at times.

“It’ll be great if you could book tickets online for the Times Cineplex too,” he said.

There is a reason why cinemas do not allow ticket bookings two hours before a movie, according to a source affiliated with the Times Cineplex.

“Apart from allowing walk-in customers a chance to buy tickets as well, there is a set parameter within the software that prevents tickets from being booked two hours before the movie, as it is too near to the show.

“This cinema ticketing system is used by all the cinemas in Brunei, as well as cinemas all over Asia,” he explained.

Advanced ticket bookings are unavailable at the Seri Qlap Cineplex, Kiulap.

According to an employee of the Seri Qlap Cineplex, bookings are no longer taken because previously, advanced ticket bookers had often failed to show up for movies.

The Brunei Times