View Full Version : Open All Year any pointers

Haunted Castle
10-27-2012, 10:31 AM
Starting Nov 1st will be open year round every Sat. night from 8-11 anyone have a year round haunt or any ideas on this, Thanks

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-27-2012, 11:07 AM
Unless you have the ability to change up the show at least once or twice a month or you are in a great tourist city I say forget the idea. We had a hunted house that tried it here a short time ago. They could not even keep the doors open one night a week after trying everything including going down to just a couple of actors each night. I have heard about other haunts around the country that have faired the same way. I think it may be financially more successful to advertise that the haunt is available all season for parties. Hook up with a DJ and a caterer and let them have choices of what they can have at the party. You could charge a good amount for that I would think!

Just my opinion,

Allen H
10-27-2012, 01:50 PM
honestly I would go for once a month and make it Like the first Saturday every month. It is a big commitment for your actors and you wont make enough money to pay them for while. I work at Terror on church street in Orlando and Skull Kingdom in Orlando I worked at year round attractions for 8 years straight. I work a lot with Dollz haunted house in downtown Dallas and they really struggle with attendance on their off season nights(every Friday and Saturday night) they are kept afloat by tour groups that visit the convention center that they have a deal with, other wise they would be in trouble.
Looking at your area I don't see how the area could support it. It is also a lot to ask of a cast to show up each week. How many cast members do you need to run effectively? How many customers do you need each night to make it worth opening? Can you sustain the marketing push you have currently for the whole year? Are you ready to take an attendance hit in October because the public can visit your attraction anytime or one person in their party has been to your place in the past few months so they decide to go somewhere else that night?
Is their a theater or restaurant nearby that you can partner with to make a "night out" deal?
I don't think changing the show up is as necessary as informing the public that you are open and that you are a viable option for entertainment 12 months out of the year. If you have considered and can meet these challenges then by all means go for it. I would look into adding draw for your show
"Drive in movies" horror movie theme tie ins, anything to appear current to the times, not just Halloween.
Allen H

Greg Chrise
10-27-2012, 08:59 PM
I think you can do it. The reason it will work is because you aren't in a tourist area or in a larger city. It becomes more of a legend of something to make a run to go do from the towns even 50 miles away. Still it would have to be very few actors and generally doing it for the joy of developing their craft and perhaps a very large pool of all of Kentucky's actors doing it simply because they are missing not having a place to do what they love.

You don't have to change anything, rather your 20 years of detail become something no casual observer can soak in every detail and so the haunt and with different actors and different stations being used, some not being used, it is indeed a different show every night. YOu just might be in some portions of the year doing the whole thing for one or two people. Believe it or not, those intimate tours are better than advertising, as those people will spread the word.

The off season becomes the possibly lost leader advertising to boost up the October crowds whether you need that or not. Generally you need low or no overhead and no commitment to paying actors and being able to run and give a tour even if there are no actors or only one other person running around changing masks to become 6 different other characters.

Your web site says you work on the haunt all year. So this is how to slowly change, test and make things work through the whole season. It is going to take lots of people believing in your show to ultimately have a steady stream of customers or being able to use modern technology to get existing groups to come for special nights. You just can't do al the work and give away more than you make. So helpers need to be made aware it is not like any other job. Perhaps it will pay and it might not. All tied to customers that particular night. Or not. Still being devoted and reliable may bring special ranking and pay in the regular October season. Do it for fun, don't quit your day job.

It becomes additionally a little network for how people can make a living outside the haunt, who works where, who needs something done. A complete social network that you probably already have by now.

Any small town you go into and ask what is there to do, kids will say go look at all the stuff in Walmart or hang out at the bowling alley. Anything at all in addition to that is very welcomed and usually supported. Being near a tourist center doesn't compare because the over head in a tourist area is out of this world and so they go broke eventually. The low overhead, willing to do it for low income because it is a life style thing is actually fun.

Sure you can get the parties and the events at your place. In fact figuring out all these ways to advertise and find intrested customers with no money outlay can also be fun or a challenge depending on how you look at it. You have to look at in season and off season as two distinct ways of operating and control of spending. Not allowing anyone to thing this is how to get all the money that was made in October by showing up all year long.

Greg Chrise
10-28-2012, 10:55 AM
I'm curious what your attendance in October is. I know of a haunt that is open 300 days a year and he is a close friend of mine, in a small town. However the specific means of how customers find him may not translate. Other big names have tried to copy some of his techniques and generally last only a year or two in what should be a great location because they don't work the finding of customers constantly. It isn't something you can't pay some advertising guy to do for you or just sit around waiting for customers.

The changing and building of things and making those things somehow public is part of the advertising process. Scratch that, it isn't advertising, it is self promotion. Understanding the calendar of events in your area to tag onto somehow. Plus of course having enough energy and resources to do something about being there and being back at you place every evening.

Greg Chrise
10-28-2012, 11:24 AM
I don't think you get an attendance hit in October, I think all the off season tours seem to view the tour as something they really would like to see in full swing in October and still appreciate the more intimate tour of the place in the off season even if there are no actors and you are explaining what happens. At your $10 price point you can do that. More like being a tour guide with entertainment than 75 actors showing up for one night of spectacle. As I said before, two different ways to operate.

I'm in a medium sized town and have some ties to a new costume shop venture where they bought out a couple decades worth of inventory. I'm genuinely suprised how many groups have monthly gatherings that require costumes. A complete list of information I didn't have for my area. My way of getting such information that I hold precious is to support these related businesses with anything they are lacking I might have here just collecting dust. It could be as simple as neon open signs or tables or large fans. Things that might cost money but are really in the way most of the time, other people can use until those items die. You can participate in stupid real things like showing up with a crew to help move things from one place to another even if you are paying everyone. Real behind the scenes pain in the butt kind of things that are generaly above and beyond the call of duty.

Not that anyone is obligated in anyway but, even the mention of what is going on in the market place can be unseen opportunity no one thought of. These real world feats are worth 100 times what telling someone how to do something on the internet might be. You can't jump out there and actually do things on the internet beyond make voodoo dolls of your critics. In the real world for the most part people are happy to see me and discuss their problems and plans or decisions for the future. Next locations and so on. All the junk that accumulates and people are helpful to give to a haunt may have a real need somewhere else in a regular all year round business, as do the concepts of what is popular now.

Greg Chrise
10-28-2012, 11:40 AM
Real self promotion is being a freind, not flashing a business card or soliciting to make some sale. Not bumming a cigarette or a cup of coffee or being a weasel in anyway. Building a community of contacts in the real world that might have no measureable pay off what so ever. In addition to these mundane needs you can direct customers to various shops and the more that survive long term with your support the more resources you have built.

In having a haunt it is very easy to get too busy and get tunnel vision and neglect all of these real world avenues of activity. So any time you have to wander around becomes real world networking time. You have to go where the customers might come from and see what is happening.