View Full Version : Groupon Type Deals

09-27-2011, 11:49 PM
I've sure I'm not the only one who has been approached about Groupon type deals. They want to sell your tickets for 1/2 price, promising to fill so many slots on off days or whatever. The catch is that they then split the cost of the remaining ticket with you. That means you get only 25% of your normal ticket price.

1. It's a guaranteed attendance on an off night, or the deal falls through. So they can really boost sales on nights that would otherwise be slow and boring for the staff.
2. Lots of new customers, many of which you wouldn't otherwise reach.
3. Zero advertising cost to you. They email their subscribers to line it all up.

1. You basically lose a 75% commission on each ticket sold by them.
2. A long line of discount customers can make others who would have paid four times their price not attend because of the wait, and keep driving.
3. It can cheapen the perceived value of your haunt, as anyone who pays full price seems uninformed of the "sale" price.
4. Many of those who get the half price won't return unless they get the same discount again.
5. Some of the others in line will find out about the half price discount and could feel ripped off.

My open question is who has tried this and what was your result?
Those who haven't tried it, I'd still be curious about your input. There's pros and cons, some weigh a lot more than others. If you can think of other pros and cons, feel free to add those as well. Thanks for your feedback.

09-28-2011, 05:30 AM
Groupon got talked about in one of the marketing seminars at Hauntcon, and was generally looked at negatively by those that had used it.

Bradenton Haunted Trail
09-28-2011, 06:36 AM
Well we just had our feature start and it is for a off day this Saturday and it has sold over 100 already. I will let you know if I get any negative feedback. My thought is that it would help spread the word throughout the area about our new Haunt (first Year). Because of the 25% we get I do not think we will do it again. But hey first year haunt opening on the 1st and have over 200 guest first night can't be to bad.

Bringing your phobias to life in horrifing poetry

09-28-2011, 06:36 AM
We just got on to Groupon. Our ad is running right now for three days. We are still building our fan base and we want people to know about our haunt here. We did Living Social last year to get the word out. We shall see how Groupon does.

09-28-2011, 08:02 AM
Living Social has approached us as well. Did that work well or crappy for you? From what I can tell, they seem to be a clone of groupon except they don't guarantee a minimum number of sales like groupon can (in order to activate the discount). When it was all said and done, were you glad you did it or did you think "it wasn't worth it"? Did they negatively impact your regular full paying customers?

09-28-2011, 08:04 AM
We have used Groupon for our other business. We considered using for the haunt. We looked at it as STRICTLY advertising dollars. Yes, you do promote awareness with this ad, but you really don't generate income. Don't forget that you also pay credit card fees on top of the 1/2 they take, so you are making less than 1/4 of your door price. We decided against it for the haunt because it was not a big enough benefit
In my opinion, from running two deals with them, they are more concerned about pleasing their consumer, rather than you-their client.

09-28-2011, 08:57 AM
Groupon and other deal sites are for marketing. Read through the Groupon material. The results can vary and you decide the deal. We did it in 2010 and sold 435, redeemed 375. It was run on the day before we opened. This year instead of half on one VIP ticket, we did two for one VIP. Sold 215 and it was two weeks before the start of the haunt. Our take is that in 2010, we reached 35,000 email receivers that may not have heard of us, which was the feedbcak we got from so many. The market segment is mostly college education upeer middle class women. These are the decision makers for families. In 2011, groupon said the Ft Wayne area had 135,000 email receivers.

Were we happy? YES. Why? Because we reached many new potential customers that not only came, but brought more with them. The VIP ticket is $ 15 so the people they brought also bought VIP tickets. Some income, but income instead of expenses for advertising.

chuck weber
09-28-2011, 09:13 AM
glen mills, pa. i'm goin !!!!!!

freak 'n' stein
09-28-2011, 12:19 PM
Our Groupon runs starting at 12:01 tomorrow morning...only real value I saw in it was to market the show. Another local haunt just ran a living social and it sold a very decent number of tickets so that's what we're hoping for. It seems to me Groupon and Living Social know what they're doing if they've reached out to all of us. It's not going to be about turning max profit more than it is about marketing and selling a slow night.

09-28-2011, 12:54 PM
You may be better off using the funds you would otherwise give to Groupon on advertising for yourself. 50% cut is very steep .

here's the demographics:




Bradenton Haunted Trail
09-28-2011, 10:12 PM
Here is a update we are up to 175 sold for opening night so that is 350 tickets we did a buy one get one deal. That should start the word of mouth that we want. And my web site has had almost 700 hits after the deal started so I think it Marketing well worth it.


09-28-2011, 10:25 PM
Why on earth would any haunter do a groupon deal? You are only open for a handful of nights. If you charge $20 a ticket you'd end up only getting $5 for your ticket, how is that worth it for you all the responsibility is on you not Groupon but they get a %. I'm shocked when I see haunters falling for this these days. More people at less price means more headaches for less money. YOU ARE UNDER CUTTING YOUR SHOW PEOPLE WILL NOT BUY YOUR TICKET NEXT YEAR BECAUSE THEY WILL WAIT UNTIL THEY SEE IT ON GROUPON OR LIVING SOCIAL YOU LOST THAT CUSTOMER FOR LIFE!!!!! It's great for a restaurant or other business open all year and they want to boost sales after Christmas or in their slow season, haunters are selling a hot ticket for peanuts....As a customer I would buy the groupon tickets but I want to support haunts and always pay regular price instead, but most people are not like me they want the deals! lol


09-28-2011, 11:30 PM
I agree that a significant % of the Groupon customers won't return unless they get the same discount next year, but most of them would not have come unless they found out about it in the first place from Groupon. If you provide a great haunt, it is also a safe bet to assume some of them WILL return (perhaps with friends) even at regular price, but I doubt that is half as many.

But remember, one would always set these Groupon or discount nights on the SLOW nights, and we all know it's better for the staff to have a busy night than a slow one. The slow nights get boring for them and aren't as exciting as the crazy busy nights. But there is also a "too much of a good thing" factor to consider as well: If the line is too long with Groupon folks (were you only get 25% of the ticket), then some full price customers will keep driving and (who knows what % of them) won't return. This is particularly a problem for the haunts that do small groups instead of continuous lines. We can't rush them through like the "conga line" places do, so a long line can take an hour or so to process. (Unless they buy the VIP tickets, but most students don't want to spend the extra $10 for those.)

So it is a tricky decision, not as cut and dry as it my first appear.

Another consideration no one has mentioned (including the Groupon and Living Social reps) is the sales tax. Do they include that in their 75%? Our rep gave a dollar amount per double ticket they would pay. If we're stuck paying the full sales tax for each ticket (and I have a bad feeling they don't plan to contribute toward it) then that's 7.5% x 75% of the cost of the ticket that cuts into the remainder, reducing the 25% (or whatever final figure) by a significant amount.

Feedback from people who have tried this is really helpful and appreciated (although all comments are welcome).

09-29-2011, 02:29 AM
As a heads up, Google is launching Google Offers in select markets. One of their sales guys has been up my ass about starting a campaign with them. It's basically Groupon except through Google. Two $25 VIP tickets would net out to $12.50 for us. Worthless.

I'm sure it would be good to get the word out for a 1st or 2nd year haunt, but not for the established IMO. You're better off using Foursquare / Twitter / Facebook. At least if you do a BOGO on a VIP ticket or the like, you're getting $25 out of it and not $12.50. Plus, you can start and stop those at will, no middle man.

09-29-2011, 03:38 AM
Okay listen up my friends... I am a marketing master and let me tell you none of these types of things fool me one bit. I went back and forth with a Groupon guy over about 25 emails. I told him flat out... 'I could be your #1 salesman if I worked there, I'd get all the bonus, all the money, all the success, heck I understand how to sell your company better than you, so don't try to snowball me'.

I was very a matter of fact... I was explaining to THEM why it would work for certain people and not others. Additionally I explained to him there is about 100 other people trying the same thing from your local TV stations, newspapers to other new start ups.

They admitted I was right. To make a long story short... they offered to only take 30% of my money NOT 50% as some of you have stated.

I told them if I did their program they would make a FORTUNE ... I thought they'd sell 10,000 tickets. That would NOT HELP ME... they tried to convince me it would over and over and I got more and more ignorant back and the more they dropped the percentage.

Look here is the bottom line... and DO NOT take this the wrong way.

If you have a VERY small haunted house this might be a great deal for you because you gain some exposure. But you gain exposure from people who might not have otherwise come so in other words not your core group or audience. Either way if you are one of those VERY SMALL Haunts with very little business, nothing can hurt your business.

If you have a bigger haunted house with lots of marketing this WILL HURT YOUR BUSINESS...

If they take 30=50% of your money plus you have to offer some outrageous discount you LOSE MONEY and let me say TONS OF MONEY!

If you are a LOW ROLLER haunted house owner who doesn't spend money on marketing, nothing can hurt you! But if you are a low roller then simply MAN UP and SPEND REAL money on marketing, websites, blah, blah and STOP looking for FREE stuff to promote your haunt.

YOU WILL NEVER become a RICH BIG BAD haunt working with Groupon, you need to man up and purchase radio ads, tv ads, sponsors, get a kick ass website and hey don't forget Hauntworld banners. LOL

GROUPON WILL NOT make money it will help you LOSE A TON OF MONEY.

When you stop and think here... you give them 50%, you also offer a huge discount and you sell lets say 3000 tickets. Let me say this is my haunt... hmmm.

3000 tickets sold at $20.00 is $60,000.00

I give away 50% as some of you stated that is $30,000.00 given to GROUPON. ARE YOU F*CKING CRAZY!

How many radio ads could you buy for 30k, how many google ads could you buy, how many hauntworld banners could you buy... think about it.

LASTLY... lets NOT forget one more thing... you had to offer like 50% off the ticket so now you just lost even more.

DO NOT BE A TOTAL FOOL... BONE UP and market your haunted house RIGHT!

Groupon is a gimmick and your haunt will NOT benefit the way you think.

Just my opinion.


09-29-2011, 07:44 AM
They certainly can take a giant share for delivering nothing but an email offer in exchange. You're right to point out that it all depends on the size of your haunt but also your market. Major metropolitan areas have an endless supply of customers if you can reach them, but the smaller towns do not. Advertising is always key, but there are plenty of ways to waste your advertising dollar as well. The vast majority of radio stations are the wrong demographic, as are most adult newspapers and even most TV. We're looking for the 15- 28 market. They are not going to be listening to NPR, talk radio, or (for the most part) Country radio. Nor will they be watching Lifetime or many of the cable stations. College newspaper, yes, local political paper, not so much. Internet is the best bang for the buck for this crowd (but that doesn't exclude the others.) If you've been around a while and you're good, your reputation is your cheapest and best ally. (We have a 50% to 75% return rate, so it's critical to us.)

A good on-line video can be both cheap and effective. Good yard signs, flyers (in the right place), and compelling posters. It may be low tech, but if it brings in more than it costs, it's profitable. Again, in a major city, giant advertising budgets are the life blood of the haunt, but they tried that here and spent as much as they made (which was a lot) but the haunt wasn't substantial enough to bring the same folks back again and again, and without the endless supply of young adults who had never been before, it went under in two years. We've had much better luck focusing on making it bigger, better, and keeping expenses under control. Fortunately, our reputation has increased the numbers each year (this is our 13th year) and it's working for us. But that's never reason enough to not be aggressive about marketing.

We're passing on the Groupon/ Living Social because they take too much of a cut (plus it crowds out the line with folks not even paying half price) but I can see situations that would make their offer more attractive (like VIP tickets). Still, it's interesting to see what others have to say on the matter as well. This is a diverse lot of readers and contributors, and they provide some great feedback. So anyone who has had experience in this regard or thoughts about it, please share it. Learning from other's mistakes or good calls is what these forums are all about.

09-29-2011, 07:51 AM
You could give free tickets out to a radio station and get more effect the you would with Groupon.

09-29-2011, 08:27 AM
Larry, You don't have to remind of all your talents, it is burned into our minds. LOL

The point to remember is it is a "marketing" tool not a sales revenue generator by itself. There are tons of ways to "man up' whether you are in a major market where word of mouth alone generates those conga line gold mines or "VERY small haunt" "LOW ROLLER" (nearly 90 % of us) that have to use every potential idea to the fullest whether it is Groupon, yard signs, banners. And yes online banner ads that are right next to haunt/website owner banners that pervade every state page. As a VERY small haunt LOW ROLLER, we have again used Groupon with new terms. Next year we will restrict the promotion to maybe the first weekend or our slowest nights. Using Larry's tactics of a tough sell, next year we will negotiate their fee down to 30% hopefully.

Thanks Larry for the money saving idea. Even discussions like this where we are on opposite views on a single marketing tool we all can benefit.

By the way, this year we doubled our coupon promotion from 9 counties, 500 stores, and 500,000 coupons to 18 counties, 1000 stores, and 1,000,000 coupons. Partnered with another haunt an hour away for the coupon and now cover 18 of 92 counties in the state. And we didn't break the bank doing it either. Pepsi sales people put out the coupons in every convenience store near the check out register and big box grocery stores on product shelves with a nice P.O.P. (point of purchase display) that holds the coupons with a stand up mini poster. We drive to two Pepsi sales meetings and they love it, we love it, and stores love it.

Hope all have a great season!

09-29-2011, 09:09 AM
I'm always amazed and fascinated by all the mom and pop sized haunts. That's one of the things I love about haunted houses. The little guy can still be as good or better than the Goliath corporation, because passion and creativity can still trump big budgets. How many businesses in America does that still apply? (The only other industry I can think of is the restaurant biz.) But that doesn't mean I don't want to hear how the pros do it in the bigger markets do things. (The way this town is growing, we may fit that category eventually ourselves!) So the more input, the better.

One earlier point I find hard to swallow: the graph showing 35% or so of the typical haunt customer makes over 100,000.00. Call me the pessimist, but I think most people are pulling the survey person's leg when they say that.

09-29-2011, 10:45 AM
My issue is always with the LOW ROLLER haunt owner the guy who always wants everything for nothing, the guy who doesn't seem to understand to make some money you have to be willing to spend some money. Not to mention that they always are offended when you try to explain how to get something done right, and they always use the term like 'big boys' or whatever.

Listen I will tell you that when I started I was doing 8000 people at 3 dollars a ticket. So I started small and worked my way up learn every step of the way that if I wanted to get bigger there was THREE things I had to learn.

1) Haunt had to get bigger and better! Don't stop investing into your show. Beat out everyone!

2) I had to learn about marketing. I didn't have much money so how could I do something with very little and every year I could do a little more because I got bigger and bigger and bigger and eventually the biggest.

3) I had to always learn new things, explore, expand what I know or don't know, that there is nothing worthless to know. So I went on an ever ending question to learn something. In fact I just learned something new on Monday, about how everyone has downloaded this streaming ap called Pandora and radio might be going worthless now. You can advertise on Pandora. I just learned that and still trying to learn about. I'm mastered SEO after spending tens of thousands. Bottom line is I'm NOT afraid to try something new, make mistakes and benefit
from them.

Bottom line is I've checked into this whole Groupon deal, so has everyone who is doing it now from my local newspaper, tv stations and more.

IF YOU THINK this is a way to market your haunt you are WRONG! YOU WILL LOSE MONEY! USE MY ExAMPLE ... figure out all the money you will be losing errrr making errr giving away and realize that is money you could be spending on advertisement.

So PONY UP and SPEND IT... on something that brings in MORE people!

If I did this program I would lose about $30k maybe more... Id rather just buy like I'm doing RIGHT NOW 30k worth of TV spots which I can assure you will bring in MORE customers at FULL price than this program.

Again when I started in this business I had no one to tell me these things, but you do... your choice.


PS: Did I forget to mention that Groupon has delayed an initial IPO stock offering because their revenue keeps dropping like a rock. See I'm not the only one.

09-29-2011, 11:02 AM
For 30k you can buy like 4 fully vinyl wrapped metro buses for the month.

09-29-2011, 02:43 PM
Larry is 100% right on this, the groupon thing will cost you money! There are so many people copying them from Living Social to your local news channel, everyone!!! It might be good for boosting quick sales, but it's true more people doesn't mean that much if it's less money being made because the bill collectors won't lower thier bill like Groupon for YOU!!!

We have been hit up by no les than 15 groupon type people, our answer is always the same....

Choose your marketing strategy wisely!


09-29-2011, 08:46 PM
By the time the fourth one called I was tired of their pitch. So I basically turned the tables on him; and threw figures back at him like Larry listed above. He heard me laughing as I hung up.

I will concede...if I was a new haunt CONFIDENT I had a show people would come back for next year then I would try one of these robbers for a opening weekend.

Wicked Farmer

09-29-2011, 11:13 PM
You guys are so so so right... there is just to many of these types of services now. Its just a gimmick and you will lose money doing it no doubt.

Skip it and pony up to do REAL marketing.


freak 'n' stein
10-01-2011, 05:53 AM
I have to agree with everything stated...our Groupon runs for 3 days or something like that and on the first (as you can see from a prior post) I was in full support for it in terms of marketing. About a day in, my excitement wavered. I think to look at it from Larry's point of view as opposed to ours is a bit different though. "Big dog" haunts don't really value from Groupon type deals because they have a long-standing rep, and to be open as many days as he is, bringing in customers really doesn't appear to be an issue no matter what day. We, on the other hand, struggle to bring people in on our nights deemed to be slow (sundays, mondays...any EXCEPT friday or saturday)

...soooo it's kind of a double-edged sword. our SLOW nights that we aren't really looking at big business are the ones we now have locked in with groupon. Yeah, in terms of dollars to ticket ratio, we took a hit...not a LARGE hit, but around 2k...but we also weren't guaranteed to sell the number we sold for those nights our Groupon is locked into.

10-01-2011, 10:46 PM
I checked out your site (love the swamp motif /SFX) and one thing I would suggest thinking about is removing the Groupon link. The whole point of having Groupon involved is that they bring in customers you wouldn't have had without their help. But by having their link on your page, you can syphon away customers who already found you and were probably going to pay full price use them instead, then you lose 75% of the money. Let Groupon find their own customers for you, so everything they bring in will be gravy, instead of reducing the % the profit from the tickets you lined up for yourself. (That's just my opinion of course, but I suspect others would agree with it.) I'm not saying using Groupon is good or bad, but if you are going to use coupons, you never pass them out to people already in your line. You use them to GET people in your line. And likewise, don't recruit Groupon users from the people who have already found your haunt. Let them recruit their own customers to give deep discounts to from the people who otherwise are unaware of you.

Duke of Darkness
10-05-2011, 03:57 AM
I was approached about the Groupon thing yesterday and after a few minutes thought, I turned them down. I would lose too much on each sale to make it a reasonable option. There is a case where I could see it working, however. If you had multiple attractions at a single site, it MIGHT be worth it to run a Groupon/Living Social type deal on a single or secondary attraction. In a case like that, the majority of those customers would end up spending additional money at your event on the other attractions, making up for the huge discount. Kind of a loss leader type of idea. Other than that, I can't see it being successful in the Haunt industry.


10-05-2011, 08:03 AM
Groupon CAN be useful depending on what you're looking to do. Out haunt is considering it on our weekday night which are normally rather slow. If we can get more people to come in those nights through groupon, great. I understand the thought that people say using Groupon is throwing money away, but we are making it clear that we will not offer Groupons on nights where we dont need more customers.

Its really just trying to decide whether or not the potential added exposure will make the revenue lost worth it. Look at it as advertising. In order to go out to over a million people, our money lost is rather minimal because we are limiting the deal.

10-05-2011, 09:16 AM
1 misconception is your sent to 1 million people. Groupon is mostly prevalent in metro areas with like half it's over members in the Chicago area.

10-06-2011, 11:24 AM
I believe Duke of Darkness has hit on something. Using a deep discount to get new people to portion of your haunt so-- if they like the part they experience-- they will almost certainly get tickets to another portion, is a great idea. Like the aliens say, "Take me to your (lost) leader!"

Doug Kelley
10-11-2011, 08:53 PM
Use Groupon to sell a special event, not a normal operating night. Perhaps a "behind the scenes" night or a "flashlight night" at a 200% markup over a normal event night. This way you may be able to reach both repeat customers AND new customers looking for something different. I agree using Groupon to sell a normal night isn't worth the price but if you can create a special Groupon-only event then you might just have something worthwhile. The best of both worlds.

10-11-2011, 09:34 PM
We used the two major deal sites and two minor ones and we are using it as just a new marketing idea to reach people that maybe wouldn't come out normally. As of second weekend open we sold a ton of deals most of them so far new customers and all have loved it. I'm very happy we tried it and i'd do it again. I would rather give away part of my ticket for a guaranteed customer then $10,000 to $20,000 for a radio station to blow smoke up my ass.

Robert Dudzieck

10-12-2011, 09:05 PM
I got a call today from a Groupond clone and I told him stop the fast talk
and put his proposal in writing.

Look at the good deal this clown tried to slip by me.
You need to read the fine print before you agree to the deal

1.4 Payment. dealgrind will pay Merchant the Remittance Amount for each Voucher properly activated for which a purchaser has fully paid dealgrind. Merchant is registered for sales and use tax collection purposes, and shall be responsible for paying all sales and use taxes related to the goods and services described in the offer. dealgrind shall forward one-third of the then-collected Remittance Amount Total to Merchant withinten (10) business days after the Run Date, one-third of the then-collected Remittance Amount Total withinthirty (30) business days after the Run Date, and one-third of the then-collected Remittance Amount Total within sixty (60) business days after the Run Date. Amounts retained by dealgrind are compensation to dealgrind for the service of advertising and selling the Vouchers for Merchant.

Here is my reply back short and sweet

Sorry Michael
I can not agree to this, way to long to get payed. Good deal for you Bad for me

10-12-2011, 09:11 PM
Those were pretty good payment terms as far as timing for most industry. I wish everything got paid on terms even close to that in corporate america.

10-13-2011, 09:11 AM
Got an email from yahoo today about there daily deals

Man O man hows next

10-13-2011, 09:47 AM
We just completed Groupon ran it for 3 days but sold out in 12 hours 300 tix.
This is our second year and it helps spread the word.
It's not our fault if people found our Groupon deal and others pay full price we also have 5k flyers promoting a $2 off coupon in various stores, Halloween stores, local businesses so they had a chance as well as Facebook coupon so our coupons are out there. We alos made it avail for any night they would like to attend.

10-17-2011, 12:03 PM
I guess Larry changed his mind..


10-17-2011, 03:03 PM
Just a little bit of experience of what I've seen with groupon.

We have 3 events at our location. Each of the 3 events is independently run.

One of the events ran a groupon deal this year. Some of the hope was that people would get on site and then buy tickets to the other events as well. I've seen 0, yes 0 sales for my event generated by getting people onsite for groupon. (Several hundred groupon tickets were sold.)

The people using groupon basically have come in, used their 1/2 off ticket for one event, and left again. They don't even head for the ticket booth to look for tickets for other events.

10-17-2011, 04:10 PM
No didn't change my mind... I did ONE my lowest attended haunted house and limited the ticket use to only 4 days all weekdays, and they lowered their feet to rock bottom. This is a test... I'm doing this for my own business and you guys as well. They caved in on every single demand I made and I'm only doing it for information.

If I didn't agree with every word I said then I would have done Creepyworld which is doing awesome, I would have done Darkness. Lemp is only doing okay. They originally wanted it open to use tickets any night... I said NO! They wanted 50% I said no. They wanted 30% I said NO!

Anyway I'm using four weak week nights for data. Once I have the final data I'm going to pass along. BUT NO I AM NOT doing a deal with these guys for weekends, my best haunts nothing.


10-17-2011, 10:02 PM
Larry makes a very important point: These guys have a lot of flexibility because they have virtually NO overhead or "skin in the game". It's all profit to them and we're the ones with the fixed costs. They just have a big email list and we all know email doesn't even have to pay for stamps! So any deal you make with them is going to be gravy for them, while the reverse is not always the case. We have to pay all the bills and if something goes wrong, we're the ones who get sued. How the eating places can survive giving away 75% of the retail is mind boggling. (They have to pay SOMETHING for the ingredients!) Bottom line is if you use them, do it as filler on the days you need bodies and negotiate a deal that leaves you with a lot better than 25%.

10-17-2011, 10:18 PM
The eateries actually take a lose in an attempt to make a future customer.

10-18-2011, 02:54 AM
Since doing this little promotion from Groupon I've got a call or email from 10 knock off sites... one group wants me to take 40% of ticket sales they get 60% because they do advertising for your company in addition. Every single tv, newpaper, blah, blah local here is running a program like this and have some sort of offer they will make you. Overall I will have a final report on this but I can already tell you its not worth it what so ever unless you are a very small haunted house then and only then can you make it worth it to you. Larry

10-18-2011, 08:08 AM

Let me congratulate you on becoming a Groupon merchant. LOL

After reading all your anti-deal rants I did learn from your experience of negotiating that a better deal than 50/50 is possible. That will help all of us that do it in the future with any of the sites. The other thing that I have learned from doing two years of Groupon deals and this thread is that any deal must be well planned to avoid giving away money that will come to me anyway. The marketing to an audience that may not have been familiar with us is the real potential.

Some on this thread brought up the point of regular customers buying and undercutting the potential. So I looked at my customer data yesterday and compared both years. There were 435 sold in 2010 single VIP/Fastpass tix and 220 sold in 2011 for two for one VIP/FastPass tix. There was only ONE name on both lists, which really surprised me as I figured it would be up to twenty percent possibly. Have any others compared their lists?

Your Lemp deal is very precise and targeted to a weak segment of your schedule. What you have to remember is it is still marketing, not sales. There will be other residual business unmeasurable that will come to the event especially if you would direct the customers from the deal page to a new web page that will also promote your other two events. Trying to do an upsell to the other two events when they come to Lemp is also a potential you could do.

Thanks in advance for sharing the results of your deal. All of these sites will be caught by surprise next year when all that have read this thread are negotiating better terms and fees.

10-19-2011, 02:37 AM
I do things unlike most just to learn. I've lost more money trying new things only to learn more of what I should do or shouldn't do. All the talk about Groupon I went ahead with Lemp for several reasons...

1) To learn about how this works and get some insight so I can share my experience.

2) Lemp is the lowest attended haunted house I have.

3) Weekdays are really slow so I limited this to four days they could be used.

These guys do NOT do what I asked for they just caved in because they wanted to do the deal. Here are a few things I learned...

1) Groupon deal is NOT something I would do again.

2) I don't like their redemption system most is by phone meaning you validate by their phone. When you get the printed ticket you have no clue if that means its validated or not because they give you no scanner. I hate it.

3) They pay like this... they give you 33% of your money after 30 days, 33% again after another 30 days, and the last payment after a total of 90 days. Most of you guys could NEVER accept these terms. They do this for several reasons... one they are sitting on your money collecting interest. Two they want to cover their ass in case you have someone who didn't like it and want their money back. Soooo... you are at their mercy like Walmart. If you sell to Walmart and a customer breaks something then brings it back in and gives them a new one YOU ARE STUCK WITH THE BROKEN ONE.

So let me be clear... IF you sell 100 tickets and 50 say it sucked and want their money back you are at GROUPONS MERCY because its no skin off their nose. Plus you wait a total of 90 days to collect your funds.

So what did I learn ... DO NOT EVER DO THESE DEALS EVER! YOU ARE A FOOL... will I do it again NO WAY!

But in the end did I learn anything?

Yes I did... I learned that because I sell tickets ONLINE I can create all kinds of special promotions and discount codes. This is a MORE effective way to promote your business if you want to do HEAVY DISCOUNTS...

I am using discounts to gain more Facebook friends... let me explain. I offered a deal called "FLASHBACK" where I roll the prices back to 10 years ago for one day online if I gained 1000 friends within 3 days... guess what I got 1300 new friends. Now when I put my message across on facebook I now reach 1300 more people.

I've learned that today there are so many options out there to market and so many that are worthless you have to be careful... do I know what I'm doing YES you but your F*CKING AZZ... however does that mean sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet? YES!

I did this to see the details and now you have my findings... DO NOT DO IT! Use the money YOU LOSE with Groupon and put it into things like discounts through your friends on facebook, or mass emails with discount codes, take the money you lose with Groupon and create a better website. Did I get more customers... yes Lemp did nearly TWICE what Darkness did however Darkness made MORE MONEY!

In the end its not about how many customers you get its about how many dollars you get from each customer. If Darkness gets 250 customers and Lemp gets 400 thanks to Groupon Darkness still made MORE money and I had 150 LESS headaches!


10-19-2011, 05:53 AM

Thanks for the input. You bring up many valid points that are important to remember when doing deals like this.

Still sounds like you are looking for revenue rather than marketing with a deal like this. I don't count the groupons as revenue. I write them off as free passes, with the groupon money simply as an extra on my income sheet. Last year groupon said they had 35,000 on their Ft Wayne email list. This year they claimed 135,000, yet the numbers were very similar.

What was the St Louis list number, did they tell you?

Again as I put in my last post, I can only see one person as having bought both years and it is still only half way through the season. That low number reassures me that there were new customers coming to my door. Many bring others with them and when their friends buy tickets, they buy the VIP/FastPass so they can go in together. That is an upsale and at max price. Word of mouth is still the best advertising so many of those people will tell their friends how awesome the Lemp is and you won't be able to rack that.

Have you checked your website stats to see what happened to the traffic on that page and where they went after going to the entry page?

I do think that you are on to something that could be big with the facebook marketing. That is one seminar I definetely will be going to somewhere whether it is Trasnworld or anywhere. The potential is huge and tracking it is possible ao I will be trying to learn as much as possible on it.

10-19-2011, 05:58 PM

I could sit down with you and or a group of say 10 haunt owners for say 3 hours. By the time I got done with you, and after you used these techniques your attendance would go up huge... it would take me a few hours to show you looking at a computer, explaining things in person to make you understand a lot of the things I do, can do, things I've invested money into blah, blah. Somethings look great on the surface but if i took a calculator and showed you with math you'd go OH I SEE NOW... yeah that way would be better.

I could afford to do the Groupon thing just to get the insight. I have checked my site stats and its nothing compared to the other things I do... its a blip!

Trust me when I say you could take that same cheap approach that you take with groupon and put in somewhere else and get 50 times the benefit. You talk about mass emails in your area of 35,000...I've built up a huge amount of mass email probably in the range of 100,000. I did it all FREE! NO GROUPON!

Next time I see you its on! LOL


10-20-2011, 09:59 AM
I will take that offer to sit down with the master for three hours. Legends or Transworld? LOL

This could be a great roundtable for TW, whoever is out there setting it up, Ben or TG?

Larry, our markets are very different. You are in a metro area of 3,000,000 and I am in a small town of 17,000, county of 35,000 within 25 miles of Ft Wayne (300,000). Our customers in our city and county amount to 17% of our total the last four years. Our increases have been from outside the traditional 15-20 mile radius. The groupon buyers were nearly all from outside our immediate area as well.

Let me know what time and date you are free.

10-20-2011, 12:38 PM
Larry thank you for the info. I would love to here how you built up your email base. Sence your all about promoting the industry and sence must of us here buy your ad space . Please share with us your knowledge

11-05-2011, 12:16 PM
Long read but worth every second...


Jim Warfield
11-06-2011, 06:32 AM
And so busy, working so hard to negative comments, making very little profit...sounds great if you are the customer!
"Let's give away the store and see if that makes people happy!"

Jim Warfield
11-07-2011, 05:43 AM
Do better working on their "Demon-Graphics' first.
When starting out everytime I capitulated on my ticket price and gave a discount, those getting that discount would joyously inform the others arriving after them that they had only paid "X" amount! Rubbing their nose in it, making them feel stupid! The customers who were willing to pay full price to support me! = SO WRONG!
A deal I once tried were discount tickets for Wed. & Thurs. only. People bought these tickets via a radio station give away and then they would drive 45 miles to get here on a Friday or Saturday and then was I supposed to send them back down the road with those Wed/Thurs. tickets? "Come back again on the right night!" Sure. that makes for good vibes toward any business=Wrong! So increasing my mid-week business worked -NOTTA!
Almost every patron coming through my door has driven 60 to 120 miles or more to arrive here, their need or desire to see my house will not be solely "fueled" by a discount ticket, they have to want to be here to take the time, effort, expense to make it happen for them... somehow I don't see the coupon-clipper/ bargain basement mind in that picture.
We might give such a deal a try one time in the dregs of winter, this would be interesting to measure.
When a first time visitor first lays eyes on me and begins saying , "HI PAL!" or "BUDDY!" the next thing will be them asking for a discount. Usually because they just drove "X" miles to get here!! (Most everybody does!)
No discount because I feel I have worked long and continiously here to create something different, special which should never need to be discounted or given away.(Priced resonably so there's your "Discount" relative to a dollar's valuation)
If they really are just tourists, then my place can also have appeal whereas it's historic value and maybe the odd fact that I have built 98% of this place Myself, maybe that would make it worth seeing?

11-22-2011, 06:56 AM
Just an FYI to anyone that may want to go the Groupon route...