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Vicha Poolvaraluck reveals the secrets of his success

Major Cineplex is a stand-alone theatre. And that forced Vicha to do "something" to make his movie house survive.

Vicha Poolvaraluck reveals the secrets of his success

"Because we are not located in a shopping mall, we have to stand on our own feet. I have to think about putting some exciting activities in it to draw people to come," said the 45-year-old.

Major Bowl, a bowling alley, Major Karaoke, a karaoke room, California Fitness, and Subzero Ice skating lane are what Vicha put into his Major Cineplex Empire.

Today, those add-up businesses not only help his theatre run well, but they have gradually become the major source of his company's income.

"Only 55 percent of our money comes from cinema tickets. It's not a hundred percent like in the past," he said.

Vicha's success tips:

New business must be in concurrence with the old

The logic Vicha used in expanding his new business is quite simple. The new one must be related to the core business already in operation.

"It should be like a spider web where every filament will run to the centre. This will make it easy to manage and devise marketing strategies for the whole," he said.

That's why his busineses are all about entertainment.

Think about his theatre business as the centre. You will see that related businesses such as bowling alley, karaoke, ice skating lane, or playhouse, could be well fitted in the Cineplex venue to draw and give more excitement to the customer.

However, beginning a new business-line, does not mean Vicha had to start everything from zero.

"Going for a business that already has a strong reputation in the market is a good idea," Vicha said.

Just like Major Cineplex that is now joining with McDonalds restaurant, the American fast food giant.

"If I choose to enter the fast food business with the brand 'Wendy', I believe it would make me tired."

Going step by step

Before starting any new business, Vicha said he does not jump-start by investing a lot of money and making it big. A good example is when he decided to start a Major Karaoke.

"Every time we construct a new bowling area, there was always a little unutilised space. And that's where we built a karaoke room," he said.

Vicha said that taking small steps would ensure the losses won't be too great if the business does not do well.

"When I started the karaoke business for the first time, I never thought it would be successful. That's because Thais still have a negative perception about karaoke as something for night-life people," he said.

"But I was wrong. Thai people love singing more than I had expected. Now I have to open a karaoke facility at every branch of Major.

Vicha said conducting the survey is also important and useful before starting a new business.

In his Major Bowl business, he always checks feedback of customers to see if the visitors are new or regular customer.

"This will help in positioning your business. Whether you have to open more bowling lanes to serve a new customer or build a new marketing plan to boost the income," he said.

Eager to find new innovation for a new business

From more than a decade of experience in business, Vicha said he sees Thais as people who are eager to see and experience something new and exciting all the time.

"In the West, many theatres may use the same style of carpet for three or more years without any renovation. But I cannot do that with my cinema here," he said.

"If people get bored with the atmosphere of the place, they can instead stay at home and watch a DVD. We have to always make everything fresh [design and concept of the cinema] to draw them go out of home."

Vicha said his ideas for renovating his cinema, as well as starting up new business, mostly come from his observation during his travels to different places.

"Every time I travel, I always carry a digital camera with me to make sure that I will never miss a snap shot of a nice place, like a hotel, or a unique object I found during trip," he said. "Even a step of stair in a hotel if I think it's beautiful I will snap it."

Like his idea to try a karaoke business came after a visit to Japan.

Vicha said as soon as he returns from any trips, he prints pictures snapped up by his camera and sends them to his marketing and engineering team to see the possibility of adapting them in his cinema.

"Travelling reveals new trends and opportunities for business. All the new things and ideas will not just run to you but you have to go out and look for them."

By Watchara Saengsrisin

The Nation

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