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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
    1,163
    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
    60
    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
    10,607
    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
    924
    "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
    80
    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.
    -Eric
    Chief Engineer/Co-Creative Director
    HUSH Haunted Attraction
    ------------------------------------------------
    Misfit Props
     

  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
    10,607
    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
     

  8. Default  
    #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Centreville, Virginia
    Posts
    57
    Sorry in advance for the long post. I have 3 points - Hayride, attendance and conga lines

    Quote Originally Posted by scary bill View Post
    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.....

    Yep. Its absolutely harder to scare a wagon than people walking a path. The feeling of safety is what kills you. Still worth doing, Its fun and you can pump tons of people through a hayride if you do it right. I think we're at 35-40 people every 2 minutes. We sell out of tickets for our walk on the regular but never have sold out of tickets for our hayride. Not that anyone asked, but my advice on a hayride; start with a short ride with enough scenes, not much dead time, scares from above work best for a full wagon, have a finale, and DRIVE SLOW! Oh and get wagons as low as possible, easier for actors.

    Attendance. Maybe we're in a bubble in this area, but we were up over 25% in attendance with a price increase on peak nights. Perfect weather had a lot to with it, but weather wasn't that bad last year so it wasn't just that.

    Conga lines. The age old question. At some point this is unavoidable right? If you put 3000-4000 people though a night, you can't really avoid it right? A solution is to sell fewer tickets, to stay open later, but because many of our actors are in high school we can't have them work past midnight so we have from 7:15-12:00. We let in average of 8 every 45 seconds, but on a half mile trail what can you do when that one group stops at the beginning of every scene because they're scared? Isn't the best you can do is KNOW it will happen, remove choke points, and plan enough scares to accommodate it? Any help would be welcome!
    Lucas Cox
    Cox Farms
    www.Fieldsoffear.com
     

  9. Default  
    #39
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Bluff City, TN
    Posts
    124
    We were down a bit, but we seem to lose a few each year, we haven't had a raise in attendance in 10 years and out ticket prices are only 10.00 a person. Next year for the first time in those 10 years we are going to have to go up to 15.00 to help get our volunteer actors gas to get here. We also always add more fx, change scenes, and grow the haunt. I start work and design on the haunt for next year in October of this year. We did try boosting our advertising earlier in our season and it seemed to work, but in the end all we did was take attendance numbers from the end of our season and move them to the beginning.
     

  10. Default  
    #40
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Posts
    5
    I'm somewhat new here been a lurker for years. Finally got my account approved to post. I read this thread a while back and wanted to give some input.

    It seems that everyone is suffering some setbacks with overall attendance while at the same time increasing revenue. I'm not sure this is a bad thing is it? Personally I think more haunters will be doing more than the Halloween season. We see haunts opening seasonally, opening escapes, while many new haunts come from other fields like paintball. A lot of my closer haunt friends are all doing something else now other than just haunted houses. One friend just opened an escape room, another a panic room, and another an axe throwing facility. The main point I'm making is don't put all your eggs in one basket. We live in a social world and people enjoy doing all kinds of things we never thought could make it as a business. Just my 2 cents. Brad
     

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