stable|kernel transformed The Fox Theatre, a historic venue, into an innovative leader by improving the customer experience and increasing revenue with a mobile app. Explore the benefits of a consumer-facing mobile app and how to solve real business challenges with a mobile solution in this case study.
The Fox Theatre opened its doors on Dec. 25, 1929, during difficult economic times just two months after the stock market crash. Shortly after, the theatre declared bankruptcy in the wake of financial hardships in the 30s, but fought for survival with a change in management in the 40s. It became one of the shining stars of Atlanta theatres, known for attracting world-renowned talent.
By 1974, because of the rise of suburban movie theaters, the Fox began to decline yet again and was approached by Southern Bell to buy and sell the historic institution. Public outcry and mobilization lead to mass community support that prevented the demolition of the venue and ultimately lead to its salvation. In 1976, it was named a National Historic Landmark, and the Fox Theatre’s original architecture is still largely preserved 43 years later.
Today, the team at the 89-year-old non-profit continues to search for new ways to deliver on its mission to preserve and share the venue. With its rich history and legacy of innovation, the Fox team and the board of directors decided to explore the use of technology. They hoped to further enhance the guest experience and drive brand affinity among its fans. They decided that a mobile app was a step in the right direction. The team wanted to create an experience for patrons that was distinguished from the website and agnostic to the activity on the stage while increasing revenue. However, the Fox team didn’t know how to best deliver on these objectives, so they partnered with stable|kernel to bring these visions to life.
“The thing that stuck out about stable|kernel was how well they knew our business and how vibrant and exciting their prototype was. It was totally different from anything we had gotten from anyone else,” said Jamie Vosmeier, senior director of sales and marketing.
The Fox conducted initial research and discovered the majority of its audience were iOS users so we started building an iOS app first. Our team are avid fans of the historic theatre and well-acquainted with the experience. Our knowledge of the theatre informed our approach to development. We had a unique guest perspective of the theatre and brought refreshing ideas for improvement to the initial brainstorm. We narrowed down the most effective features and functionality for an MVP based on the problems that the Fox was trying to solve.
Functionality that Drives Customer Engagement
The most significant pain point for guests is the long lines at the concession stands. As a visitor, before the show and during intermission, patrons must choose to either use the restroom or purchase a drink with little time to spare. Our solution offered fans the ability to pre-order drinks in the app and then pick up at a designated concession stand without waiting in line. Now, users can pre-order a drink that will be waiting at a designated concession. Guests can also simply pay in the app by safely saving their card information. The app expedites the process while increasing revenue by reducing the time it takes to make a sale.
To further engage the guests with the rich history of the theatre, we created a virtual tour with historical information to enhance their interactions with the venue. Fans can read about the history of each room while walking through the theatre, adding a layer of intrigue and depth to the experience of the theatre. By combining the physical and virtual worlds, the app drives deeper engagement with the brand while also creating an awesome experience for passionate patrons. “I think the tour is beautiful; everyone has a Fox story which I love, but we’re actually letting the Fox tell its story through the app using technology,” Vosmeier said.
The last of the features ease the process of searching for upcoming events and purchasing tickets. The Fox team wanted the app to appeal to an audience that not only included visitors to the theatre but also reached people who were considering attending an event. Fans want to find and buy tickets with no hassle no matter where they are and in-app search and purchase does just that. With this feature, in addition to the virtual tour, any person who may want to visit the Fox Theatre can engage with the brand through the app.
“Using the app is very easy, the tour is intuitive and informative, and drink ordering is also super easy; we tried to make this as painless as possible for guests. You can get more info about the Fox staff, contact info of the venue and even buy a ticket. The app does a little bit of everything,” said Vosmeier.
We’ve received positive feedback about the app from the guests at the theatre and the board members. Both parties truly enjoy the virtual tour; they find the photos beautiful and the historical information abundant and engaging. Beyond the virtual tour, guests are relieved and excited about pre-ordering drinks in the app. They find the utility convenient and easy and enjoy the freedom to have time to use the restroom and purchase drinks during intermission.
We developed a strong partnership with the Fox team while working together on this project. “First and foremost, you just got us. We felt important from the very beginning and that was huge,” Vosmeier added. The team appreciated our consistent communication and laser focus to keep the project on track. Because of the solid foundation we built in the first version of the iOS app, we are set to launch an Android version in the near future to offer every guest the same experience. In this version, the virtual tour will be enhanced with a 360-degree view of the spaces.