View Full Version : counting your attendence

04-15-2008, 06:53 PM
how do you guys count your attendence at the end of the year? do you have some system where you know your through put on an hourly bases?

Jim Warfield
04-15-2008, 09:37 PM
Better count "Nightly" and then weekly. Saturdays will see a lot more bodies than almost any other night.
The other thing to sometimes pre-consider are Monday holidays, this makes for a much busier Sunday night, don't send too many helpers home early!
It can be just like having two Saturdays IN A ROW! $$$

04-15-2008, 10:33 PM
Our tickets are numbered. At any given moment I can ask the box office what # we are at. We keep nightly totals and last year my wife, bless her heart, kept HOURLY totals too. I like it cause I know exactly how many tickets I need to sell to start making a profit and once that ticket is sold I can relax....

Jim Warfield
04-16-2008, 12:45 AM
"Once That Ticket is Sold!?"
So you are extremely happy just to break even, then? hahahahah!

04-16-2008, 01:05 PM
Actually, I am relieved once I hit the break even point, cause I know that all the money I invested for that season has been made back. After that I can start to feed the family again. We do not eat at all in Sept and the 1st week of October! lol

04-16-2008, 02:34 PM

Can you tell me your source for your numbered tickets? allan@bennettscurse.com if you'd rather email it.

We've been looking for a good source for this...


04-16-2008, 02:55 PM
We use an electronic ticket machine that keeps count every time a ticket is printed/produced. It keeps track of different levels of tickets like adult tickets, child tickets, and VIP tickets individually and totals per night. It also shows how much was made $$$ wise which is helpful when bouncing the totals to the register at the end of the night.
With a punch of a button, we get a current count at that time. We usually do this every two hours or at half time each night just to see where we stand.

04-16-2008, 05:17 PM
For my tickets last year I just went to a local Insty Prints and had em printed. They can number em for you too. This year I think am swiching to wrist bands....

04-16-2008, 05:42 PM
We use an electronic ticket machine that keeps count every time a ticket is printed/produced. It keeps track of different levels of tickets like adult tickets, child tickets, and VIP tickets individually and totals per night. It also shows how much was made $$$ wise which is helpful when bouncing the totals to the register at the end of the night.
With a punch of a button, we get a current count at that time. We usually do this every two hours or at half time each night just to see where we stand.

wow! where did you get this system? any drawbacks?

04-16-2008, 07:46 PM
For my tickets last year I just went to a local Insty Prints and had em printed. They can number em for you too. This year I think am swiching to wrist bands....

We used the wristbands for one year. We will never do that again. We were amazed at how many customers needed assistance putting on their wristband. It held up the ticket line and the little tabs peeled off the adhesive part were all over the ground. I personally dont recommend them. Just my .02 cents Greg

Jim Warfield
04-16-2008, 08:44 PM
When I decided I had better begin using tickets I decided to immitate the ski lodges, use stickers , they have a disclaimer (just like the lift tickets!) we get them in different colors for different nights, it also has a notice that I can use their recorded image in court, if need be.

04-17-2008, 03:43 AM
for those who have posted (so far) on this thread. what is your nightly/seasonal attendence count?

for those haunts with numbers in the 20,000+ (netherworld, the darkness, POE, etc.) range how do you count your attendence?

04-17-2008, 08:18 AM
You'll never get that info online Jason.....

Karl Fields
04-17-2008, 11:05 AM
You'll never get that info online Jason.....

Alan - he might get some of it :)

Our POS system gives us all that information real time.

04-17-2008, 11:20 AM
Karl, I was referring to haunters telling people over the web their attendance numbers...

04-17-2008, 06:16 PM
lol yeah what the hell was i thinking. lord knows i've been on here long enough that i should have remembered that we all keep a little something to ourselves on these forums.

Jim Warfield
04-19-2008, 09:31 AM
Some certain questions only get a certain sort of answer.
"How many rooms are in this house?"
"All of them."

In Illinois the property tax clerk can raise your taxes on your building if they decide that you are making more money than they feel you should be making from the amount that you paid to buy the property.
Of course this feature of taxation is actually" income", but it can happen that way here.
My ex-lawyer got upset when I pointed out to him that he should be paying more property tax on his law office because of the vast amount of money he took in operating from just a small office.
Maybe he got upset because I had it right? At least as "right" as the county tax lady had it on my place, right?
Like the ancient saying:"It all depends upon whose kid has the measles."

04-23-2008, 05:25 AM
as a whole, i don't care on what the bigger haunts numbers are. i've already learned that answer from various sources. i just hope someone like ben, larry, or whoever, can speak first hand on; how does a large attendence haunt keep track of their numbers on a nightly and yearly bases.

Karl Fields
04-23-2008, 04:15 PM
Whether you are doing 7,000 or 70,000 customers, the system is basically the same.

Just count the money in the cigar box and divide by your ticket price.
Or you get fancier: You have a known number of tickets to start. At the end of the night you have an amount left. In theory, the difference is how many people went through the gate. You also start with a known amount of money, subtract that from what’s in the drawer at the end of the night and you know how many of those you actually sold.

Of course all of those are over simplification and there are a lot of variable to take into account.

To accomplish the cash handling:
At the low end you have a cash register(s). These cost a hundred dollars or so and do basic cashiering functions. You can have preset buttons for entrance fee and other buttons for discounts. Push Adult and it rings $20, push coupon and it subtracts $2. Enter how much the customer gave you and it figures the change due back. You can take reports showing you how many Adult tickets, how many coupons and how much money you should have in the drawer. The reports can be cleared out at the end of the night. These generally won’t accumulate detailed daily sales but will give to-date information (how many Adults were sold this month and so on).

Another option is something like the KIS System http://www.wwlinc.com/products/details.asp?pid=33&pt It is kind of a blend between a ticketing machine and cash register. It has normal cashier functions, types of tickets, various coupons, etc. At the completion of the sale the system prints a roll stock ticket for the guest. During the night you can take reports showing the details of what has occurred. Having not used one, I can only assume it has the ability to Z or clear the totals on demand. Last I looked these sold in the $2000+ area and you need to buy the ticket stock from them. They are available in counter top or hand help configuration.

Then you have a POS (Point of Sale) System, with one or multiple terminals. As with all these choices, the busier you are, the more terminals you need. These systems can be industry specific systems with a program that you tweak with your event specific information, something like from Dell http://search.dell.com/results.aspx?s=gen&c=us&l=en&cs=&k=POS&cat=all&x=12&y=11 or Micros http://www.micros.com/ or Radiant http://radiantsystems.com/ or scores of others. Very few (if any) of the full line POS companies market a system geared for Haunts – just not that much of a market. Look to paying $5k and up per terminal plus all the bells and whistles you can imagine.

A true ticket generating system, like at a movie theatre, is way out of my league. Plan on spending a bunch, and probably not having it work the way you envisioned.

Another choice is to go with a generic computer(s) and use a program designed to do what you want. There are thousands of these POS programs out there, but it will be unlikely that many will have a haunt specific variety available – again, just not much demand. ClearCut http://www.clearcutoperations.com/ and HauntController http://hauntcontroller.com/blog/?p=37 both have Haunt solutions and I’m sure they are a few others along with hundreds of home grown systems. The benefits to these types of systems are they use relatively cheap hardware (generic computers with specific options), can be made to work almost exactly the way you want and have taken into consideration many of the ways haunts may work.

All of these alternatives will give you the basic information for sales. The more elaborate you get, the more information you get, but there is a point of diminishing returns. How valid is seeing sales by 5 minute increments? For me, not at all, but if you are selling timed tickets this may be very important. How about the ability to automatically clear the system of daily sales? That is huge for me, as I don’t have to think about it. I set the End of Day to be 10AM and this gives me the ability to make adjustments the next morning. To someone else, that is meaningless, they just reset at the end of the night. How about logging different cashiers onto a terminal? Again, not for me as the cashier assigned to a terminal stays there all night. It’s a matter of prioritizing and listing what you need and then comparing that to a list of what functionality is available.

To me, having databases for each year is very nice. It allows me to run a variety of reports based on last year vs. this year, the 2nd Tuesday vs the 2nd Tuesday last year, October 12 2007 vs. Oct 12 2006 and so on. It also allows me to create reports or import into Excel to massage whatever kind of information I think I need. Of course the crux is that you need to initially gather the information.

Most of these systems do not generate ‘tickets’ by themselves, except as a receipt type.

Where you go from here is up to how much time and money you want the throw at the issue.

I will say that the time to fine tune your system and cash handling techniques is during the slower times at the start of the season. You don’t want to find an ‘issue’ with a procedure on your busy nights! Just like getting groups through your haunt, figure how to do it on slow nights cause you are not going to have time to change it on the busy ones.

We use three Itronix ix250 GoBook laptops, with cash drawers, scanners and touch screens, connected to a server in the office. These are run with the HauntController software and the scanners are for validating on-line tickets. Our preprinted tickets are numbered and issued to each of the cashiers at the start of the shift. Cameras also help keep the honest people honest, but remember that there isn’t a system made that cannot be compromised. The busier you are, the more little problems tend to cover themselves. A few hundred dollars missing on a $50,000 night might not even show on the radar, but that same monies missing on a night your only taking in $2000 will stick out like a sore thumb. Volume, as wonderful as it is, can cover a wide variety of problems.

On the other hand, if you are a small operation and you or you spouse is selling tickets, maybe the cigar box will work just fine for you.

So basically there is one method (mentioned at the top) but 3,527 variations of it.

If that wasn’t your question, then never mind :)

04-23-2008, 08:04 PM
yeah, that about hit the nail on the head!! lol
thank you

Jim Warfield
04-23-2008, 08:10 PM
Ticket Situations To Avoid: Six years ago after my ex and I were divorced she offered to return just to sell the tickets, of course her new boyfriend would have to be with her in my ticket booth since she got nervous alone sometimes.
"You can't do it all without help, you can't sell all the tickets handle reservations and lead the house tours."
I said, "Watch me!"
On the busiest night of the season there she and her boyfriend were in the middle of the crowd, watching, waiting..for nothing!
I never had so much fun! Meeting the people from the moment they got out of their car and bought their ticket gave me another opportunity to begin to "play" with them.

My Ex had said she would sell all the tickets during October for a mere $5,000! ????
I mentioned this to Leonard P. and he said he would do it too for $5,000!
Then as October approached numerous others came to offer their ticket selling skills to me, people I scarcely knew!
Isn't it funny how money affects people?

04-25-2008, 07:19 AM
We are not in the big league, but I share how we do it. By the way, Karl did an awesome job with his explanation.

We have a greeter/starter that asks the customers for a city or town and marks a tally sheet. This helps to see where our marketing is helping. Sometiimes they will also get email addresses for our marketing. The ticket seller has kept a tally sheet as well, and this past year, we had a simple program that did it for the ticket seller. We will try to make it a touchscreen this year and tie in the money drawer so they don't forget to record it. We use the various coupons and free passes for the night to plug the nightly numbers into the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet has evolved over the years so that I now know what percentage of my customers use each value coupons. Also, it is helpful to see what percentage of the free tickets we distribute to radio, groups, sponsors. The numbers then can be cross checked from the tally sheets to verify the nights income that has been counted.

I have records for each year's attendance and budgets since we have been at this location (1999). This year we had 5 nights that were in the top 13 all time. The actors always want to know how many and we keepit vague because it is none of their business, but we do let them know where it falls all time. Like top five, ten, etc. The budget spreadsheet also uses those numbers to tell me where we are through the season as far as the breakeven point.

One figure I will share with you is that prior to last year, only 18-20 % of our free passes were brought to us. These were primarily radio stations. A few years ago, a friend was runing an event that I had done previously and I passed the radio promotion person on to them. When I asked the friend if she was contacted, she told me that they couldn't give the radio person the tickets as they said they couldn't afford to do that. The request was for 100 tickets ($7 each). I reiterated the 18 % return rate was only 18 tickets, the friend couldn't comprehend it. First, it doesn't cost you anything to send someone through your event other than the cost of printing the tickets. Second, the promotion from the radio station for ticket give-aways are two or three mentions for each pair or four-pack they give away. And third, 18 tickets time $7 was only $ 126 (if you are calculating it that way) for 50 to 100 mentions on the radio during peak times. Absolutely should be a no brainer.

I asked if they would mind if I offered my tickets to the radio station since they weren't going to and they said sure. When I called the radio person, she asked how many tickets could I give her and I replied, how many CAN I give you? She asked again, so I told her I would give enough for every day through the season. She quickly calculated 160 and asked if that was too many for the next two weeks. I replied, no problem, can I give you more??? She said she had the next two weeks after that covered. (darn) So I got at least 160 mentions out of that. And only 18 % returned them. (28 tickets)

Now, this past season, our sponsor return rate was closer to 50 %. But they did such a fantastic job for us, I was still way ahead on that deal. And I thanked Rich from Vegas a few times for that sponsor idea.

Jim Warfield
04-25-2008, 09:20 AM
The "Free" tickets I give away never come back to me. Maybe it's the complimentary hickie they have trouble with?
Since I am open year round I have to put expiration dates on those tickets, otherwise 4 years later.....no thanks. (It has happened)

My free radio ticket program was simply an azzpain. The tickets were supposed to only be good on Wed. and Thurs. attempting to inspire business on slow nights, so everybody that got one of these tickets showed up on Friday and Saturdays, my busiest nights. Am I going to be the bad guy and send them home 40 miles to return on the properly ticketed nights? No.
I got scared during one of those free ticket tours when a very scary woman and her clone daughter kept staring at me, without saying a word for most of the tour then gushed a few rabid-fan blurbs at me (to which I did not respond)
I know, I avoided a possible two for one situation, not my style, Thanks.