Operator Spotlight: How Sergio Chavez builds operational efficiency with data, AI, and automation at Tynset Kino

January 8, 2024
The DX Team
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Cinema: Tynset Kino

Location: Tynset, Norway

Cinema Operator: Sergio Chavez

Number of Weekly Screenings: 16-24

Yearly Admissions: >11,000 in 2023

Started Using DX: since 2001

Favorite Part of Working With DX: Sergio appreciates DX’s focus on future improvements and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to solving cinema operations needs.

Tynset Kino indoors view

“We all win when we treat each other as partners and share information. When we educate people to go to the cinemas, especially young audiences, we’re all happy.” — says Sergio Chavez, a passionate cinema operator at Tynset Kino for many years now, but also a cultural advisor for the Tynset municipality.

Born in Mexico, Sergio first moved to Norway more than 10 years ago to follow a master’s program in International Relations. He ended up in Tynset, a 5,581-inhabitant region, together with his Norwegian wife. That’s where his current journey began, first with the municipality and then, when the opportunity arose, with the cinema.

“In my university days here in Norway, I was involved with the Latin American Film Festival two years in a row, so I was excited to take on the role of a cinema operator when that came up.”, Sergio recalls.

“It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun!”, he adds.

How can I make things better? Meeting operational challenges with experiments and problem-solving

When Sergio first took the cinema management role on board, the pandemic came, so it was a rough start. He also had to learn everything from scratch — from the technical part of running a cinema to operations, scheduling, marketing, and what it means to run a cinema business.

Tynset is a well-positioned cinema, serving the region since 1919, with quite a historic legacy. Nowadays, it boasts 2 auditoriums of 270 and 55 seats respectively, and screenings on Wednesdays and Fridays to Sundays. Sergio, a statistics and efficiency-focused manager, asked from the start: How can I make things better? 

Screenings and events at Tynset Kino

With an experiment-driven mindset and limited resources at hand, because he inherited a mixed role in the Tynset municipality, he set out to understand what works and what doesn’t for his audiences, but also for the way the cinema operates — to save time and focus on delivering quality at his cinema.  

When we asked him about what he would’ve liked to know when he first started, he flipped the question on its head — so here’s what Sergio learned so far, good advice for any cinema operator reading this:

  • Go to the cinema events for cinema managers. Ask all the questions you're pondering, talk about shared problems and experiences, and learn from each other.
  • Create routines and document everything. It’s a game-changer to be able to delegate daily tasks and know that, even if you’re not there, everything runs as it should.
  • Don’t try to change everything all at once. Take your time. (A piece of advice he’s still trying to apply, as he has many ideas he would like to implement faster.)
  • Experiment and deeply understand your audience. That means sometimes taking risks and failing with your programming and scheduling.

Capitalising on the Tynset Kino brand with the right audience know-how

Sergio knows that the cinema industry is a complex one and, although he has a lot of great ideas, like envisioning weekly screenings for hit series such as House of the Dragon or The Last of Us, the bureaucracy and inner workings of it all make some possible and some impossible…at least for now.

That’s why he likes to optimise all that he can control.

“What I’ve been doing this year and last year was to order all kinds of movies to get to know the public.”, Sergio explains.

Opening at different hours, and testing various days and films, he started learning what works best for the Tynset audience, even if that meant failing at times or, even, sacrificing cost-effectiveness.

“The identity of the cinema is very important.”, he underlines. “I’ve learned that sometimes it works to open a film at midnight. Thinking along the lines of Tynset Kino is so cool because you can watch the premiere of Dune, you know, at 12 AM… so it's capitalizing in other different ways, not just money.”

It’s this vision that brings recognition to the cinema in the local news and among film lovers because Tynset Kino is where you can see the latest Studio Ghibli movie or experience Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour film.

Although Sergio wishes for a systemised way of gathering audience feedback directly in his cinema management software, for instance, he’s happy whenever he hears good things about what they’re doing at the cinema.

Cinema management with Monday.com, DX, and OpenAI

To have more time to experiment and power such fun experiences for the moviegoers, Sergio also knows he has to support efficiency in daily operations for both him and his team. 

So, from the start, doing things better meant creating standardised workflows for his team and documenting everything in a project management tool, while delegating routines so he could focus on analysing performance data, improving strategy, and experimenting with new, creative ideas.

Document and delegate with Monday.com

Because Sergio wears many hats as both a cinema operator and cultural consultant, he aims to delegate many routine tasks so he can focus on growing the cinema business. 

That’s why he set up Monday.com (a project management tool) to list every day of the year, with work routines categorised by operational areas like things to do when you first come to work, things to do at the kiosk, things to do when a screening starts, etc. He even created video tutorials for various tasks, especially ones requiring technical knowledge, and shortcuts to their main cinema tools like DX for cinema management — associated with each specific routine.

Then, in a truly efficient fashion, every task set in Monday.com comes with a status that the team updates — so everybody is kept on track with all daily tasks and their progress. Whenever someone chooses “stuck” as their status, Sergio receives an email with that task, so he can quickly intervene or solve the next day — an automation he also set for faster problem-solving. 

Sergio's Monday.com workflow with tasks and automations for the team

Data analysis and decision-making support with ChatGPT

Sergio loves statistics and believes in the power of technology to help him be more efficient and business-savvy. That’s why he created his own version of ChatGPT — fed with the aggregated 2022 data from all the Norwegian cinemas that are the same size as Tynset Kino (publicly available data in the Norwegian cinema industry).

Now, he uses it for various inquiries like “Give me a graphic with the average visit by time for December 25th” or “When should I schedule X film for maximum admissions?” to make better decisions for his film scheduling — based on historical data that is bound to give him more accurate benchmarks.

Complementary to his ChatGPT, he also has a powerful Excel spreadsheet with pivot tables and specific formulas to look at best-performing days and times, best-performing films, and so on.

Sergio's customised ChatGPT for cinema data analysis

The next level of data insights: DX’s API and OpenAI’s API combined

“All intelligence is information, but not all information is intelligence.”, Sergio recalls one of his statistics professor’s sayings — a guiding principle for making use of data and machine learning to garner necessary insights.

With that same principle in mind, Sergio set out to create a custom dashboard, using OpenAI’s API and DX’s API to gather critical business data that AI computes into reports.

Now, he looks at critical business data drawn from their DX account:

  • Past week's admission rates by films
  • Visits by week of the year for 2021, 2022, and 2023
  • Heatmaps with visits by event, day, and hour and with visits by event, day, and month
  • Sales average per event

…and prompts OpenAI for recommendations with requirements like “propose a 2-week schedule for Tynset Kino to maximise audience, taking into account we have 2 auditoriums with 270 and 55 seats and we open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends (...)”.

Custom key data dashboard developed by Jorge Chavez (his brother) and Sergio Chavez

He also recently integrated weather data through another API and he aims to play around with everything to gain access to more insights. 

We know that weather plays a crucial role in cinema consumption in Norway, so understanding what constitutes “bad weather” for the Tynset audience will unlock even more insights into Sergio’s cinema scheduling patterns.

Other plans?

Sergio doesn’t want to stop at ChatGPT or OpenAI. He is now exploring Microsoft’s Autogen, which lets you create AI agents (LLM-based) trained in specific areas like data, marketing, business, etc. that you can let “converse” with one another for more complex data crunching and business insights. 

With every new tool in his cinema tech stack and experiment, Sergio Chavez is one step closer to gaining more efficiency, while sustainably growing his cinema.

We’re proud to be a part of Tynset Kino’s and Sergio’s growth journey — and can’t wait to see what he dreams up next.

If you want to read more stories like Sergio's, check out our Customer Stories hub or follow us on LinkedIn.

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