TIFF 2018: Visa helps attendees skip the lines

The financial services company will focus on its branded screening room as it makes touchless payment service a more hands-on experience.

As part of its 22-year involvement with the Toronto International Film Festival, Visa Canada has been re-branding the Princess of Wales Theatre as the Visa Screening Room for the past few years during TIFF. The payments technology company has put its name over one of the festival’s red carpets and operated a lounge inside for Visa Infinite members. This year, the theatre will serve as the heart of Visa’s festival sponsorship.

The brand is introducing the Visa Infinite Priority Line at the venue, featuring a covered line through which Infinite members can get faster access to the venue. The red carpet events will also be streamed online and into the Infinite Lounge, with Visa’s brand presence featured prominently.

The brand also typically runs a street-side activation, which in years past has been located at King and Simcoe streets. This year, it’s moving the pop-up venue over a bit to be just outside the Visa Screening Room as well, concentrating the brand’s presence closer to King and John streets.

“We want to focus on enhancing cardholder experience,” said Jenni McIsaac, marketing director for sponsorship at Visa Canada.

Visa put its touchless payment products front and centre at the event last year, building an interactive art installation to bolster the message that contactless payments are fast and simple.

This year, however, the touchless message is less artful and more practical. Visa has worked with the festival to add touchless payments to the Princess of Wales’ rush ticket line (where previously attendees could only pay cash to get last-minute tickets to films).

The goal is not only to create a better experience for attendees, but to test the practice in the hopes of rolling it out to more venues next year.

“We brought in our payWave technology into those rush lines so you don’t have to go to the bank to get $20 out,” McIsaac said. “We wanted to showcase contactless payments, no matter the form factor, so you can now pay with a card, mobile device or wearable. It’s a more practical example of our message.”

A 30-second Visa “trailer” ad is set to run across all TIFF theatres during the annual festival as well, promoting the touchless payment options. The brand will conduct post-festival research to track how well its branding messages resonate with attendees as a way of evaluating the sponsorship’s effectiveness.

McIsaac said Visa also measures its TIFF success by the raw number of cardholders it serves with an enhanced experience. Last year, approximately 6,000 Visa members passed through its screening room doors, and McIsaac expects about the same number this year.

Visa did not work with any agencies on the activation; the brand has had a longstanding relationship with TIFF and deals directly with the festival.