Haunted House Association 2009 Year in Review
2009: Year One of the Haunted House Association!
Ben Armstrong, NETHERWORLD Haunted House
One year ago this month an interim board of your fellow haunt owners first gathered to start framing a new organization dedicated to a simple premise - to Protect and Promote the Haunted Attraction industry. Thanks to the unending enthusiasm and support of the first board of directors and the haunted houses, industry leaders and vendors who were there every step of the way I am happy to report that the first year of the Haunted House Association has exceeded all expectations!
Our organization now has a solid set of bylaws with very critical components. The first being clearly-defined term limits, which ensures that the board of this organization is always moving and evolving, and constantly bringing in fresh blood. The second being that only haunted attraction owners or operators with 5 or more years of experience may sit on the board, bringing real wisdom and clear focus to this group.
So what was accomplished in 2009? One of our big concerns was a safety outreach to find those start up folks who might not have the clearest grip on how to haunt safely. We created a series of “do and don’t” tips submitted by our members embedded with cool images and haunted house tips. These were presented on several websites and promoted with a two month advertising campaign in Fangoria magazine designed to reach a national audience. We also created a complex Crisis plan that was sent to our members to help them plan for proper disaster response.
So why have a safety outreach, why go beyond the membership to promote best practices? Last season there were at least two situations where guns were discharged causing injures in haunted houses. In an eerie coincidence one of our safety tips dissuaded gun use and our crisis plan discussed this very issue in detail. Clearly a safety outreach is critical and should be expanded to protect both us as haunt owners, and our customers from unsafe operators. This out reach is core to our mission and will be expanded by this group in future years.
In the area of promotion there were some truly amazing results. For our members we presented the first association sponsored haunt finder to help promote member attractions. On the national stage HHA’s participation with America Haunts with the ongoing national PR campaign netted great results, including portraying haunted houses in a positive light on CNN, Yahoo Homepage, MSNBC, Inc Magazine, Reuters, The National Post and The LA Times, among others. One of the crowning achievements of this year’s campaign was getting an awesome haunted attraction on the CBS Evening News on Halloween! One of our core goals is to show the world that haunted attractions are serious entertainment venues, and this is exactly the sort of promotion we need to build on year after year.
Some of our industry’s top haunted house vendors participated in the HHA discount program, which translated into amazing savings on all manner of Halloween goods and services for all HHA members. We were also able to offer subscriptions to both haunt industry and Amusement Trade publications, and research healthcare options for haunters.
HHA also strove to mend fences, and work hand in hand with other industry groups. We consulted closely with IAHA President Patrick Konopelski, for example to develop marketing information for both of our organizations to share. We published press releases and haunt lists from Hauntworld, Americas Best Haunts, and Haunted Attraction Magazine on our front page blog in the spirit of inclusiveness as well, because they were all promoting the haunted attraction industry in a positive light.
So what does 2010 bring?
- Our first election takes place in January, ushering in new officers and board members as per our bylaws. Holding the election next month ensures that the HHA leadership will be organized and ready for our meetings and events at the March TransWorld Halloween and Attractions Show. Several VERY experienced Haunt Owners have stepped up, and I expect great things from this new board!
- A new powerful affiliation with TransWorld will bring HHA many ways to help promote the industry and deliver new benefits to its members - including our special Members Only Brain Storming session, networking events, and more!
- A brand new website and URL www.HHAssociation.com
- Many more exciting bits of news that will be released in the coming months…stay tuned!
So In closing I want to thank everyone who helped HHA on its amazing first year voyage, especially the board who gave up so much of their time and skill for something they believed in. Larry Kirchner and Hauntworld for all of his tireless efforts, forward thinking, endless promotion and use of so many of his assets, TransWorld and Jennifer Braverman for really going above and beyond for us in our first year, Steve Kopelman of Haunted House.com for his huge promotion in 2009 that gave us the capital to get rolling, John Kennedy of Haunted Attraction Magazine for his support and even handed approach to our organization, and America Haunts for bringing us into the PR Campaign. Also a huge thank you to ALL the vendors who donated product to our auction and who continue to participate in our vendor discount program. This would be almost impossible without your support!
Lastly I want to thank you the Haunted House Owners who stepped up in year one to join us on our quest to protect and promote the haunted Attraction Industry! I hope you join up again in 2010 and bring all of your haunted house peers along for the ride! Together we can take this industry forward, and keep showing the world just how much Haunted Houses Rock!
Haunted House Association President 2009