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Thread: Did we scare our customers away?

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  1. Default I Can Be Too Scary! 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    As evidenced from what customers say as they prematurely leave the tour within the first few minutes, begging to be allowed to leave?!
    If they suddenly must deficate or urinate, I pray they have their Norden bombsite dialed in, no Messershitts attack as they make their run and place those brownish bombs squarely into the smokestack of the public toilet .
    (That is where that stuff belongs! NOT in your panties or on my rug!)
    With this being said, we try like heck NOT to scare anybody who seems the least bit timid as they buy a ticket or walk in here.
    Scaring away paying customers is bad business and nobody will ever convince me otherwise.
    Creating situations in which their only response messes up their clothing is also bad business.
    How many customers and potentual business do you want to lose each season? It just keeps multiplying as people talk to one another.or don't talk.
    There are many people out there who are very afraid, rightly or wrongly so. We have talked many, many people into trying the house tour, or into remaining in the house.
    I feel I NEED them to have the full experience here to stick it firmly into their memory banks.... for next time!
    Enthusiasm from your customers is Golden! They will do much of your advertising for you! Try to imagine putting a price upon that.
    What would the dollar value translate into being for 100s of happy, excited customers showing up on a regular schedule, willingly, happilly handing you their money?

  2. Default The Worst Way 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    To Scare away someone is with a dose of the supernatural truth.
    Many local, elderly citizens here told me not to buy the house because it was haunted.
    The incidents they related to me were not like a Hollywood horror movie at all, still the unknown things in this life play havoc with some of us, maybe more by reputation than actual events personally experienced?
    Whether you believe in ghosts, supernatural, doesn't make any difference to what I am saying here , because their fear is Real. Those afraid will usually remain afraid illreguardless of whoever or whatever happens to cross their path.
    When I was first open I sure didn't tell everyone this house was haunted. A purely selfish reason behind this non-disclaiming" ,I was starving to death and had been for quite sometime. I could not afford to scare anyone away.
    Then as time went on more and more of my patrons began asking me to tell them how I was doing this incredible special effect they were enjoying in the wine cellar?
    There was none. It was an actual appearance of the resident ghost here , who began at least as long ago as 1925.
    I eventually envisioned a painfull scenario in which much guilt and overbearing responsibility for another's severe troubles could become laid squarely upon my shoulders if I was not informing customers right upfront about the house's hauntings.
    I imagined some mildly nervous or timid person flipping out as they realise the effect was a real ghost.
    I have seen some things that had sounds announcing their arrival that then vanished right before me.
    A very many highly "Coincidental" things have happened as they were being spoken of or thought of here.
    Some of my October helpers have had frightening things happen to them, some left never to work here again.
    Ever heard of "Orbs"?
    We have seen them here seven times now with the naked eye and photographed them once as we saw them floating around in the wine cellar. Not a lense flare, moisture, dust on the lense, not a film problem or a camera problem, not when two people, (myself being one of the two) see it with the naked eye, THEN take it's picture!
    Telling people your place is haunted will bring some new customers as it scares away some old ones and scares away some new potentual customers, net gain = "0".

  3. Default  
    Chad Portenga Guest
    Our charity haunt is in it's 13th year. In the last 10 years, we've only been lucky enough to be in a given location 2 years at most before relocating. It's a big challenge to overcome, but once you establish a name for yourself, it gets a little easier.

    One note about "charity" haunts. Many competitors of ours refer to us as "that little haunt" or otherwise. FYI - we were over 1/4 mile long last year and draw from over an hour away in many cases. But it stands to say, don't spend too much advertising on the charity aspect. It may do more harm than good.

    Make sure your advertising, web site, signage, etc. looks professional. No handwritten fliers as it makes it look backyard-ish (not that there aren't some awesome backyard haunts).

    Weather and sports play a big part. We struggled with the Tigers making the World Series one year (YES, it did really happen!) and local HS teams, homecomings, big rivalry games, all take a bite out of sales. 2 years ago, it rained about half of our open dates. We have started keeping better records, but logic tells you that rain = fewer customers.

    As for being "too scary" - isn't that what people are paying for? We used to do a "Light Fright" for the first hour, keeping our actors to no-scare roles. We barely had enough people coming through to make it worth it. We eliminated that 3 years ago and saw an increase in sales. People are coming to be scared, not just to see your props.

    Also, remember your target market. Ours is 16-35 year olds, especially males. Not that other demographics don't matter, that's just our target audience. Sell to them and the others will follow.

    Good luck haunting!

  4. Default  
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    First impressions are everything. Having a professional looking website, flyers, and any other ads you use a key to drawing in customers.


  5. Default Ravens Grin-Differences 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    We are open every night of the entire year plus Sat. & Sun. afternoons.
    People do get scared here, our mission doesnot include making people vomit or mess themselves but rather to entertain them , and even make them laugh! (Which for many is a much more difficult task than just the scare)
    We seem to have many more female patrons of all ages than males. This is all right afterall who might get drunk and bust up your place? Male or Female?
    We see many familys here, also familys with small children, we work to keep everyone in the house and thereby create happy memories to further promote our business in the future- long run.
    We adjust the show to try to accommodate whatever kind of audience we are looking at.
    I was told by a very long-term haunter about the haunt he used to work in, they decided to go for the most hideous costuming and in-your-face scares... their business went definately down and down every year after year. Other factors could have also greatly influenced this as we all know, but these were his perceptions of it. Customer counts dropped 3,000 to 5,000 Every year plummeting from 35,000 to 5,000 eventually.
    It took me many years and interveiws and customers and hawking my house in the parking lot outside my front door to overcome the average, possibly timid person's fears made via attending other haunts, usually a very fearfull childhood experience, never forgotten , which manifested itself as never spending another dollar to see ANY HAUNT!
    So my opinion, research via actually talking with and asking people about their opinions on haunts shows me that blood, gore, roaring chainsaws, pitch black rooms with overly threatening or agressive personalitys waiting there Do Scare People Away.
    As children grow older, become adults, most of them do not wish to find themselves at the mercy of the unpredictable things found in the average haunt. Most adults seek predictability in all facets of their social, economic and work situations.
    Life itself can be too scary for many adults and it is not getting better, is it?
    Some do become scared here, some very scared. I try to temper such extreme reactions with distractions and humor. Two nights ago I happened to record an incredible scream made here by a young woman (She was not in my bedroom!) I put such testimonials on my answering machine sometimes. I guess I will be trying to give my customers and patrons whatever I can to please them and keep the possibility of them wishing to come back again sometime wide open for them.
    Tonight a large group is to be here, some are returning , some have just heard about us.. its a group of carnival workers! Talk about a fun group! (They won't be getting the kid's tour!)

  6. Default  
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    I really think the location thing was a big blow in your numbers. It's always tough to relocate in any business, even if its for all positive reasons like in your case.

    I think that going a little grass roots might bring them in. You need to try targeting your audience as someone else mentioned. Playing radio advertisements on a station not catering to that teenager and twenty something is going to fall on deaf ears.

    In the past, we saw a HUGE increase in foot traffic one year after walking in a Halloween parade. We dressed up and handed out candy and flyers and really pulled in double and triple numbers from the year previous (which was our first year). My skit allowed me time to quiz them so I used that to find out where they were from and a good portion were even out of our advertisement area, so they were coming strictly from the Halloween parade. Use community events as much as possible...ask to set up photo ops, face painting, etc at local events, get involved with your community as much as possible. It's amazing what word of mouth can do!!!! The best advertisement ever!!!

  7. Default Any Location 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    Will have unlimited potential if you can maintain it at the same location season after season and, of course put on a really good "Show", which has numerous definitions.
    Right now my house is almost totally hidden inside the undergrowth of vines, trees, bushes with just small parts of my house visiable here and there., which adds to the mystery and anticipation levels, I feel.
    Usually half-way through October the leaves will fall from the all encompassing vine, showing much more "House" and giving it a skin-less cadaver look with all of those exposed veins and arteries!
    We have no idea what scares a certain person, but inside their brain, They know what they are dreading. If the exterior gets their imagination cranking then they will assume that fearful thing is in your house!

  8. Default forth year running, lots of fun 
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Wichita Fall's,TX
    forth year running,we change it every year,we see them on night vision camaras,so we see they where scard,is lots of fun,i think it my (high) in life.i love it

  9. Default just couious 
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    how is your haunt doing now?

  10. Default  
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Mt. Vernon, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by Brooks View Post
    how is your haunt doing now?
    We missed out in 2011 as we couldn't find a location. Last season was ok, but the only location we found was in a nearby town about 20 mins away. We broke even last year which actually isn't bad. Honestly I think having a permanent location is the only way we're going to be able to make this work in such a rural area. I'm in the process of trying to accomplish this now, but we're going to miss this season. Not getting a location until August makes it really hard to market especially with a minimal budget.
    Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did itů Autograph your work with excellence!

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