View Full Version : If you build it, will they come?

Scary Harry
04-13-2008, 09:03 AM
I do not post very much but I have been in the business of haunting for 19 years
and this year I am a little concerned that my patrons may not show up. Gas is at an all time high, the housing market is down and consumers are scared. I know that in my retail store business is down and every month it gets a little worse. People talk about the gas prices and who is going to be our next president everywhere I go.

On the other hand in the fall time , summer is over, the kids are back in school and in my area there is not that much to do. People get bored and even though they may not have the extra money they want to go out on a Friday night and have some fun.

I have decided not to up my prices this year even though my expenses will be up.
So guys please tell me what your thoughts are, will they come or will the save their money and stay home?

Jim Warfield
04-13-2008, 10:41 AM
With less and less spending money the old customers might be weighing the expenses of a night out more. I mean any night out not just Halloween.
My biggest competitor for the customer's dollar has almost always been that can of beer. Beer inflated in price because the drinker is not of legal age.
After buying beer, cigarettes and gasoline , will their be anything left of their little paycheck?
I still don't feel right about spending all that money to fill a gas tank myself.
Possibly figuring out which haunted attraction they are going to see this season will be the limiting factor, asking friends and co-workers which haunt was "the best" will see the customers frequenting one haunt over the next one?
Different styles of haunting will see it's own kind of customers no matter what, in my opinion.
Maybe with a tighter dollar Grandma and Grandpa will be financing the younger kids to see a haunt more family-friendly as the parents work their 2.5 jobs to pay the mortgage.
Maybe those customers liking a haunt with more acting and storytelling will see the slightly older crowd keep them in business?
It can be a really varied audience out there, I see it being open every week of the year and I try to create the style of tour those handing me their ticket money seem to want to enjoy. (Then maybe they will return with more money later?)

04-13-2008, 11:23 AM
My company has a couple of costume and party shops and its down a little. Also my company does Holiday digital photography in malls in the south. You know when you stand in line for an hour to see Santa and get a picture. Yup thoes guys work for me!!!!!!! I was up in all my malls. Why? its just once a year and its a memorie that they want to keep. I see the haunt business as the same its once a year and its a memorie its fun and mom and dad is gonna give the kids some sort of spending money. It takes your mind off all the bull shit thats going on in the world today .I say we will be ok and it will be ok !!! Shane@ Graystone

~nail in the coffin~
04-13-2008, 02:45 PM
i think it will all be good. not raising your prices this year might send the message to your patrons that you do care. i own a nail salon and although my salon is busy, i haven't raised my prices, even though everything else is going up. my clients really appreciate it too. now, i'm not saying that i will NEVER raise my prices. that will happen after our new president takes his or her position in the white house and all this talk about recession calms down a bit.

we are planning on opening our haunt for it's first season this fall. so although i am new to this business, i am not new to business in general. i also think that since haunted houses are only "for a limited time" people are going to go because they won't have the option of going after november 1st. and they don't want to miss it!!

04-13-2008, 06:19 PM
and don't think it's going to be a problem. Be sure and add to your website and other promotions that you are keeping your prices the same to help them, even though you have improved your haunts to make it more fun for them.

Jim Warfield
04-13-2008, 07:26 PM
Then there are some people who come back to see my house five years later and complain about the price being higher?
What were you paying for a gallon of gas five years ago?
I don't let their complaints bother me too much because if they do come in here I like to see how the experience has distracted them from the old complaint about the ticket prices as they leave here..("See! I was right wasn't I?")

04-14-2008, 12:01 PM
He//, I'm already making plans to go and see some haunts this year and by god this year I will make it to NetherWorld. Gas is a small amount of the over all budget to going to a haunt, so I'm not going to sweat it.

Scary Harry
04-14-2008, 05:26 PM
Thanks for your input. It will be business as usual. Everyone keep their chin up and good luck.

04-15-2008, 06:18 AM
This has me thinking of a new coupon. Instead of $ 1 and $ 2 off, maybe offering to discount the tickets by how far they have driven.

Either figure the discount by average gas mileage or have a chart specific to most models, then have someone work the vehicles coming in. The discount will be to help offset the gas used to come to our event. The driver shows his drivers license for the home zipcode. He is given a coupon with three blanks, one for the zip code, one fo the model vehicle, and the last for the number of people they have in the vehicle. When they approach the ticket window, the zip, model, and number of customers in the vehicle are plugged in, and the discount is figured.

Now, three problems come to mind. 1. The discount may need to be maxed at a certain distance (or not to exceed ticket price, lol). 2. The ticket computer needs to be programmed. (dizzy just thinking of the math and algorithms. 3. The cash drawer will need a bunch of change and the ticket seller, usually my wife, is going to kill me.

Maybe $ 1 & $ 2 is easier.....

And why should I suffer at Exxons expense!

Rich Hanf
04-15-2008, 08:44 AM
Harry...where are you located?

Scary Harry
04-15-2008, 02:04 PM
I'm located 20 miles north of the capital (Albany) in New York. One mile off a major interstate, route 87 at the Double M Western Store, a forty year old business started by my parents.

Jim Warfield
04-15-2008, 06:11 PM
Sure. Advertise free gas !
Then have an elevated easy chair with a taco eating, beer drinking slob gassing everyone!
Dress him in a suit with the name of a major gas company on the back.
As slop and crumbs dribble and fly the slob leans forward, grabs a shift lever and screams "Zoom! Zoom!" The lever rotates a small ferris wheel full of more food stopping right in front of his mouth.
"Look at the buzzards circling, they know."

Headstone Media
04-18-2008, 06:11 PM
In my opinion, I wouldn't worry too much. The Haunt Industry is like any other entertainment field, it doesn't get hit much by a recession. We haven't seen any slow from the studios nor the video game publishers.

Perhaps the best thing to do is come up with a low cost marketing plan when the season comes reminding people they can be entertained at a low price. This could be fliers, cross promotions with local businesses and online adword campaigns. Plus throw in a $2 off coupon to track what works and what doesn't (just be sure to put a small code on it somewhere if you do multiple campaigns with the same ad)

Truth is, when people have to make their dollar stretch, they still want to splurge occasionally. They just can't spurge on big toys anymore, so they splurge on entertainment.

Jim Warfield
04-18-2008, 06:33 PM
The entertainment industry as defined by the Hollywood movie efforts has not seemed to be nearly as profitable as it once was for some reason(s)?

04-18-2008, 06:35 PM
remember to get all your advertisment contracts done early...election year..

Headstone Media
04-19-2008, 01:26 PM
True Jim, the entertainment industry isn't what it once was, but that is mostly because of the extreme high budgets with CGI, high dollar actors and enormous costs to give the audience the "wow" factor. This isn't to say though they still aren't making a huge profit. For example, in the gaming world, where much of our business comes from, the have many titles that are considered a loss before the game is even produced.

The reason they do the titles is for a few reasons, good graces with the studios, plans for multiple titles, like Ice Age, Ice Age 2, etc, and to find something that may be a hit. For example, World of Warcraft is a HUGE money maker - but most of the other games Sierra makes (Blizzards parent company) either break even or loose money.

So I suppose in a way it is like a venture capitalist, they throw money at a ton of stuff and hope something hits big.

In terms of the Haunt Industry, while I am sure profits will be off like all other businesses this year, they will feel less impact than others - at least I hope. Plus, I am sure the target audience for a haunt (forgive my lack of knowledge on it) is between 13 to 30. This demographic seems to spend even in tough economic times because they have less responsibility. It is just convincing them as you said to spend it on getting scared over getting drunk!

Jolly Pumpkin
04-21-2008, 01:37 PM
During the Fall season people are in the mood for going to haunted houses or seeing horror movies and this will most likely never change. If you're known for having a great haunt you'll more than likely get plenty of business from those who live within at least an hour of your haunt and especially those that are real close by. I honestly don't think that the rising gas prices will have that big effect on people visiting haunts. But I can see this effecting some of the top haunts in the United States that get tons of press. The people who lived hours away from these haunts drove the distance to tour these haunts, but will be more reluctant to do so this year.

But as I said before if you have a great haunt people will more than likely visit you first and then the others. But the high gas prices may help out inferior haunts that are near yours. After someone is finished touring your haunt they don't want to spend tons of gas money going to one that's 30 min-1hr away so they may just decide to visit the haunt that's only 5 minutes from yours even though it may be pretty pathetic. It's convenient and will cost less driving too instead of the incredible haunt they wanted to visit that's an hour away. I don't know anything about your haunt to say if you should raise your price or not. You could maybe think of raising the price of parking just a little and that may help with the loss of customers which I doubt you'll have a loss of.