Client spotlight: Tibbs Drive-In Theatre

With COVID-19 cases around the world dropping in most countries, event organisers are turning their minds to how they can resume events in a safe way, whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines. This is going to be more complicated for some than for others.

One event type we expect to see recover quickly is drive-in cinemas.

These retro theatres are a classic part of American film culture and were a staple of post-war entertainment, with over 4,000 theatres in the US by the 1950’s. This tailed off down to as low as 317 theatres in 2019, but even before the pandemic hit business was starting to boom again as an appetite for a nostalgic night out was coming back into fashion. As the lockdown eases, the appeal of being able to stay in the safety of your own car whilst enjoying a night out is an obvious attraction.

Photograph: JR Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Photograph: JR Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

We spoke to Marcella from Tibbs Drive-in Theatre who started using Ticket Tailor for ticketing their drive-in theatre just this year. She told us a little about her story and what the future looks for their venue:

  • Tell us about your setup at Tibbs?

    We are a 4 screen drive in theatre, inside of Indianapolis, Indiana. We show first run and repertory titles, as well as host not for profit events, school graduations, private parties, etc.

  • How did you get into drive-in cinemas and why are you passionate about it?

    My first job at the age of 14 was here at the Tibbs Drive In. I worked for the previous owners for about 20 years before I agreed to purchase it from them, as they retired. I love the nostalgia and the experience, and am excited to bring it back into the world.

  • How do most people hear about your venue?

    We do some radio advertising, and have a following of almost 40k people on Facebook. Most of our new-comers are word of mouth! Since taking over, we have seen renewed interest in the venue and have been working to make improvements on both the look and experience of the theatre. 

  • What are your most popular shows?

    Thrillers and horror movies are our big box office draws! Family movies generally do equally as well. We carry a little bit of everything to ensure we can serve the interests of the half a million people in or around Indianapolis. 

tibbs drive-in theatre
  • Have you managed to run any initiatives during lockdown to keep revenue coming in?

    We did a discounted pre-sale ticket for box office admission that was wildly successful. Many members of the community were eager to help us out, and giving them a small discount in exchange for the pre-sale ticketing was a great incentive. 

  • Why did you decide to use Ticket Tailor and what's the effect been for your business?

    We had actually been researching several online ticketing options and we felt like this was not only one of the easier platforms to use, but offered many of the options we needed. Hands-free ticketing was important. Customers don't even have to roll down their windows to be scanned in, and we didn't need to include a new point-of-sale system into the mix. The app on our phones was a nice touch, and we appreciate that we can easily search for a customer, in the event their ticket is misplaced or they have no smart phone/printing capabilities. 

  • Do you anticipate opening before regular cinemas and what will the impact be in your business?

    We will be able to open prior to traditional cinemas, as we are able to act as a take-out restaurant that also shows movies! We can offer safe, socially distanced movies, entirely touch free thanks to the ticketing app. 

If you want to read more about Tibbs Drive-In Theatre then check out their Facebook page.