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Thread: Season UP or Down... Here is what I'm hearing

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  1. Default  
    #31
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Seymour, Indiana, United States
    Posts
    1,161
    We’ve had a tough year, still going to end about 10% up, but that’s with around $40k spend on marketing compared to almost nothing for the past 16 years. This was supposed to be our really big year, the year we doubled attendance... but in talking with everyone around us who was down 20%-30% and spent the same on advertising, I hardly feel I can complain.

    The weather was tough.. it never felt like fall, not once.. the leaves never even started to turn prior to Halloween, then it turned bitter cold and now back to 70 degrees... Everything just seemed pushed forward attendance wise. On Friday the 13th, our first really big night, the question at the ticket window was consistently if this was our opening night???

    We had our largest November weekend ever, though. I believe if Halloween were tomorrow rather than last Tuesday it might have made a huge difference.. Plus, we are remote.. almost all of our attendees drive at least an hour, so we live and die by the Thursday forecast.. it was crappy every week...

    I am thankful and disappointed all at the same time.. but we will refocus, tighten the belt and attack Krampus and 2018 with renewed vigor.
    Brett Hays, Director
    Fear Fair
    www.fearfair.com
     

  2. Default  
    #32
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Wisconsin
    Posts
    59
    Quote Originally Posted by wickedfarmer View Post
    22 years....and going up with price increase; nice job! You MUST be doing something right. Just a heads up on hay ride. I see a lot of complaints about hayrides near us being lame. Much harder to scare a wagon load and give everyone a GOOD show without uping risk factor to actors. (now if those who do it right will jump in and tell you I am full of what comes out of west end of a bull facing the sunrise and tell you how to do it right....you are welcome



    Wicked Farmer
    I agree 100%. It was explained to me a bunch of years ago at a HAUNTcon ( by L.P.) that part of the problem is the feeling of safety being in a wagon vs. being exposed by walking. We have a train ride, that is even harder. I would like to hear how to do it right also.....
     

  3. Default  
    #33
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    10,554
    Another update here: I've talked to several haunts as of yesterday. One haunt told me they're down around 10,000 guests. I don't think there is a haunt that I haven't talked to that said numbers are down...

    Here are some reasons:

    1) Cost: Amusement Parks are getting really aggressive and essentially trying to take over this field if you hadn't noticed. When SIX FLAGS which in my opinion is false marketing because their haunts are upcharged say 'FREE' with purchase of a 2018 season pass. Well that sound pretty damn good. Why theme parks say its free haunts keep raising their prices up and up and up into the clouds. I think we've reached a point where you need to do one of two things...

    a) Expect lower numbers but have less problems and focus on revenue (find ways to create new streams of revenue from a lower base)
    b) Lower prices or offer bigger discounts.

    2) Way to many Options Now: Pumpkin patches are a serious option, corn mazes, paintball fields are doing paintball hayrides, amusement parks are going after Halloween bigger than ever before, escape rooms probably take some of the market, Halloween parties, people building home haunts, and honestly way to many haunted houses to be truthful.

    3) Marketing you need to figure out the correct formula to promote your attractions in a digital world. However with that being said I've discovered that if you steer to far digital you lose. I think digital is overblown because you can't get a very strong message to people. Most people ignore digital ads lets not forget that is the single reason why live sporting events are the big sellers in marketing now. I think we need more brick and mortal presence we need more sponsors, etc. We might have all gone overboard with digital... reel that back in and create more of a wide net marketing plan.

    4) Maybe this is just the new reality... instead of the NFL fishing for international audience better turn your attention back to the real fans. In other words focus on those who support you and create ways for those folks to spend more money with you directly.

    Larry
     

  4. Default not disagreeing... 
    #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    920
    "2) Way to many Options Now: Pumpkin patches are a serious option, corn mazes, paintball fields are doing paintball hayrides, amusement parks are going after Halloween bigger than ever before, escape rooms probably take some of the market, Halloween parties, people building home haunts, and honestly way to many haunted houses to be truthful. " - from Larry (above)

    Just something I have noticed over 17 years running a corn maze and haunt. MAJORITY of my maze customers WOULD NOT go into a haunt. Even though it is right there at same parking lot. Yes I get a lot of crossover and those who will do both. Since I have been in business...3 other corn maze has opened within 30 minutes of me and two of those quit. There have been 3 haunts come and go in a 25 minute radius. I cant even imagine within an hour for haunts the numbers. My 2 cents worth..... throwing the dart at dartboard on a moving hay wagon......there are too many haunts in some areas to support the pie in the sky ticket sales people think they can get. Even with ideal weather. I think the number of haunts that are a better bargain close to someone affects them MUCH more than a corn maze does. NOW having said that...if your haunt does the same thing every year...yes that corn maze WILL take people away from you. Why go back to a haunt year after year that is the same as last 3 years.

    Wicked Farmer
     

  5. Default  
    #35
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Southeast Michigan
    Posts
    77
    I think over-saturation is a big issue in some markets for sure, especially if more than one haunt are putting on a high-quality show, or charging slightly less. Why would I drive 20 minutes to that really good haunt I've been going to year-after-year when a new one that is also really good just opened 5 minutes from my house and it is $3 less per person? There is an area near me that currently has 4 well-known haunts within about 30 miles of each other, and a couple smaller ones very nearby as well. I've heard from some sources that there are supposedly 3 more opening in the midst of all these in the next year, one of which is aiming to be HUGE (in terms of land covered and number of attractions opening on it). I could see the hype from that taking a bit away from other established haunts in the area. Especially if the existing haunts don't change anything or step their games up.

    On the other hand, I know a lot of people who like to do "haunt crawls"; hit 3-4 haunts in a single night. And they always like it when they can go to one area and not have to go too far out of their way from haunt to haunt.
     

  6. Default Hell try haunting in Central Florda! 
    #36
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Auburndale, FL
    Posts
    194
    Howl o Scream did a huge discount this year, like $35 or something like that. When we started in 2013 there was nothing of the sort. Now a new wide eyed home haunter or ripoff artist with their get rich quick scheme pops of every year. Offering something "Never seen before!". Then skimp on the show to save money in hopes the public doesn't know better. But the admission prices are a difficult topic, with actor pay (for the respectable haunts) and $5,000 props galore at Transworld it aint cheap doing this right. And right by not having dark hallway after dark hallway with strobe lights. Throwing punches with the parks here on show quality wasn't our problem. Facing the insane advertising prices is what hurts! $12,000 for a digital billboard on I-4 in Orlando???? Yeah $25 aint enough, but people wont pay it. They have tattoos and vape fluid to buy.
    Pride over Profit was great for reviews, not the bottom line.
    Joe Phillips
    The Shallow Grave
    Winter Haven FL
    http://www.theshallowgrave.com/
     

  7. Default  
    #37
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    10,554
    Was talking to some people who're at IAAPA and they said everyone they've talked to said DOWN!

    Revenue might be up but attendance is going to keep falling as ticket prices go up just a reality.

    Larry
     

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