How HR and marketing collaboration is creating a customer-centric culture at Hoyts

We talk to heads of HR and marketing at the cinema chain to find out how a more collaborative approach has led to customer-centricity and performance growth


A drastic change in office layout and a fresh collaborative structure between marketing and HR has significantly boosted performance and created a genuine customer-centric culture at Hoyts.

When the cinema chain’s general manager of people, performance and culture, Jodi Paton, joined Hoyts four years ago, the structure of the organisation was more hierarchy based and teams worked in siloed environments. That all changed about 18 months ago when a more collaborative, project-based approach was adopted.

Paton told CMO her focus is on ensuring employees are in their best environment of collaboration, learning and high performance.

“It’s something we continually work on to ensure we have that balance around having the right people, the right environment, and the right performance framework,” she said.

Jodi Paton
Jodi Paton


“We decided we wanted to be collaborative and we did a lot of research on office layout and creating a work space that enabled that collaboration. It all suggested the approach needed to be leader-driven, so we made a decision that our senior team all sit together in the middle of the floor, and each of the teams sit around us.

“That creates is a genuine sense of collaboration in the way we work together.”

Today, Paton sits side by side with general manager of marketing and content, Stephanie Mills. With this new collaborative work space, HR and marketing teams are rapidly learning from each other, are better aware of what is going on in each other’s teams and can drive a more customer-centric culture.

Hoyts general manager of people, performance and culture, Jodi Paton, reveals how collaboration between HR and marketing has driven a more customer-centric culture

“From a HR and marketing perspective, it has really helped in ensure that we are working quickly and are quite agile in terms of being clear on what each of us are doing,” she said. “Importantly, it also ensures the communication we’re using both internally with our employees and with our customers is really aligned.

“I also oversee our customer insights team as well, which has been really interesting. Being more closely aligned means we’re ensuring both our customer experience and employee experience are well balanced.”

Closes alignment to gain deeper customer-centric insights

Hoyts’ general manager of marketing and content, Stephanie Mills, agreed the approach at Hoyts is about business collaboration toward a shared goal.

“Of particular significance is Jodi’s management of our guest experience team, as the insights we receive from this team helps to inform our future decisions,” Mills said. “We listen to our guest feedback and actively seek it out in early project phases to ensure that what we offer as a business will meet the needs and expectations of our guests.”

Hoyts’ general manager of marketing and content, Stephanie Mills said better business alignment creates opportunities for innovation and exciting new partnerships
Hoyts’ general manager of marketing and content, Stephanie Mills said better business alignment creates opportunities for innovation and exciting new partnerships


At the same time, digital marketing tools and strategies do not exist in isolation of a broader Hoyts business strategy that marketing influences and supports, Mills stressed.

“Data is used to inform decisions and provide actionable insights,” she explained. “It is so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of looking at data that is so interesting, but actually doesn’t lead to an actionable outcome. It truly is a temptation to cut data a million different ways to tell us a million different things.

“To ensure we aren’t facing death by data, we always start with a business question or opportunity that needs a solution, use our data to provide us with insights, and then implement that into our solution, whether this is executed via a digital marketing approach, or something that is implemented into the physical cinema environment.”

Loyalty program collaboration with Qantas

Hoyts recently partnered with Qantas to give Qantas Frequent Flyer members their first opportunity to use Qantas Points at the checkout by scanning their membership card.

Qantas Frequent Flyer members can use as few as 4000 Qantas Points to get $20 off each transaction of tickets or candy bar treats at the cinema and online. Meanwhile, when they're not using their points, Qantas Frequent Flyer members can earn Qantas Points on tickets and treats by joining Hoyts Rewards and adding their Qantas Frequent Flyer number to their account.

According to Mills, the unique program offers members of Australia’s largest airline loyalty program an opportunity to utilise their Qantas Points in a way they’ve never been able to before, allows Hoyts to connect with customer that perhaps fall outside of its cinema ecosystem, while also providing loyalty members something they can’t get at any other cinema in the country.

“Cinema sits within a very mature market and the ability to truly differentiate the cinema-going experience provides us with a great opportunity,” Mills said. “We have already set ourselves apart through our reseating of traditional cinemas with Hoyts Powered Recliners, which within two months’ time will be on offer at 66 per cent of our Australian locations - and expanding. And our partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer fit into this business strategy as an extension of that opportunity to differentiate ourselves in a mature market in what truly is a game changer.

Moving forward, while Mills can’t disclose specifics, she revealed Hoyts is always looking at ways to better guest experience and continue to remove barriers that might prevent this from happening.

“Our vision is to invent the future of cinema and deliver on our Experience More brand promise, so projects that are in the pipeline very much align with this strategy,” she added.

Driving customer-centricity, innovation and performance growth

Thanks to the highly collaborative approach between HR and marketing, Paton said Hoyts has also become a value-led organisation, which has transpired through to better revenue and performance growth.

“We’ve had such a rapid period of significant performance growth in the past few years that I’m continually learning from the people around me and there’s never a day that is the same as the day before, which is very exciting,” she said. Paton and her colleague in HR look after more than 3000 employees across the organisation.

At the same time, the rate of change has presented its challenges, especially from a technology perspective.

“For instance, we need to look at all the new offerings from technology organisations promising effectiveness and productivity in their product, and then figure out which products are really right for us,” Paton explained. “This can sometimes be challenging and requires some trial and error in terms of what is going to work.”

Paton saw innovation as embracing new technologies that align with Hoyts’ customer-centric vision for the future, while ensuring a more efficient and seamless working environment.

“There are lot of conversations around artificial intelligence, automation of roles, and knowing what is going to be right for us and getting the balance right, particularly when we are so focused on our customer journey,” she said. “We want to make sure that when there is a place for automation or tech-driven solutions, then we are doing it at the right time. It’s a challenge to know what’s right and what isn’t.

“The question is also how to drive a culture of innovation and also have a framework that supports it, helps creative innovative ideas come to fruition and encourages teams to test and learn.”

Mills agreed collaboration across the organisation’s entire senior leadership team has been pivotal to Hoyts’ success as a business as it truly allows teams to challenge themselves and each other in the best possible way.

“Working at Hoyts through this period of growth and innovation is by far the best part of my career to date,” she said. “What has been so amazing about this period has been working in an organisation with a management team that works together and has a unified vision of success. Having your entire business structure support and deliver on a common vision can’t be topped, in my opinion.

“But if we were to approach our day-to-day without a whole-of-business view, it wouldn’t take long for silos to form and energy put into internal politicking rather than focusing on improving our guest experience proposition and evolving our business.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu               

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