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View Full Version : Huge problem at Michigan Haunts



Howie Slobber Erlich
10-10-2012, 02:08 PM
I may be the only one from Michigan who will admit this, but I am open to any suggestions. My haunt which by this time in the season is usually very busy is instead very slow.

We did more advertising than we have in a few years. We have always had a great reputation. The word of mouth is great about this years show. All posted reviews and polls have us as one of the best attractions. The weather has been ok not great but we have seen much worse in the past. We are in a ten year established location. Our price is lower than almost every other haunt in the area. I have some of the best actors in the industry and with all that being said we are struggling to pay the bills.

The beginning of the season started out pretty good, up 23% from last year. But the last 2 weekends have been pathetic. I, for the first time in our history had to let some of our cast and crew go this week. Pretty much anybody that we didn't absolutely need. I usually have to hire more people by now.

I have heard about and from several other local attractions that they are in the same boat. Some of them have actually had to close early on some nights (Friday's & Saturday's) by 10:00 because they have no customers.

My projection for the season is to be down about 30% from last year which was not a stellar season either by any means.

So I guess I am wondering is this just a Michigan thing or this is happening in other parts of the country as well? Does anyone have any ideas why, other than the obvious poor economy?

I have never been this frustrated and unsure of the future. I know we still have our best days ahead of us but it's hard to imagine we can make up the difference and still pull off a decent year.

Puzzled and depressed,

Deathwing
10-10-2012, 04:32 PM
Man I'm sorry about your struggles. Do you think it might be due to the Tigers in the playoffs?

Jake

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-10-2012, 04:38 PM
Not really. So far the games have been pretty much over by the time we open! Thanks though!

Night Stalker
10-10-2012, 05:10 PM
Sorry to hear it, sent you a pm Howie.

Allen H
10-10-2012, 05:50 PM
Howie, look at the nights games were. The Rangers killed us the past two years. Even if the games are over they still drank during the game or want to talk about it. I bet it is the games. The Cardinals kicked Larry's but last year too.

BigT
10-10-2012, 07:53 PM
Man am I glad we dont have any teams around here ...... except the Panthers maybe ..... wait, are they a team?

RobfromErie
10-10-2012, 08:02 PM
http://www.examiner.com/article/detroit-spirals-further-into-chaos-police-chief-resigns-as-police-warn-citizens

http://www.inquisitr.com/356432/detroit-police-department-warning-enter-city-at-your-own-risk/

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-10-2012, 09:24 PM
RobfromErie, what does that have to do with anything? We all know that Detroit has problems. So does the entire nation. Just because the city of Detroit is full of coruption does not mean people won't go haunting!

Haunt tech
10-10-2012, 09:53 PM
I hear even the haunts around Pontiac are down too.
But I was thinking it may be the price of one and the gimmick at the other one.
The bars have been do well with the Tigers playing. There has also been home coming going on the last few weeks and lets face it most of the people with disposable income now days are between the age of 14 to mid 20s. To get a family of 4 to come out and spend $80 to $112 + parking in this economy is hard to do.

RobfromErie
10-10-2012, 10:10 PM
Well when the city's police force warns tourists to stay away, it seems to me there are some people that would listen. And although you may not be in the middle of Detroit, you still share the state. I'm sure a good amount of your customers aren't local.

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-10-2012, 11:27 PM
Detroit has always had a bad reputation and a high crime rate. Although not in Detroit, we are actually the closest haunt to Detroit and that has never been a problem for us. Our customers know that we have ample security. We have also never had a major security problem in the 10 years we have been open in fact our Detroit customers seem to have great respect for our attraction and are less of a problem than our suburb customers.

The Tigers just had the biggest, pathetic, colossal loss I have seen in a long time and will probably be out of the playoffs tomorrow! So if that's the problem it should be over soon.

I agree that the price of haunts in the area may have a lot to do with it. One haunt is advertising single admission price for one attraction at $28.00 per ticket. People around here for sure can't afford that and I was surprised to see that price. I think that could hurt their attendance a lot this year, even though it is a very good haunt and the most attended around here for a long time. As far as the other haunt you are talking about, they have been known to have too high of an admission price for many years and pretty much everyone has figured out that their gimmick is just that. Actually, I thought that those reasons may give my haunt a bit of an advantage this year but it's not the case so far. We have kept our price lower than most of the other haunts and even lowered our kids price this year by $2.00. We also had many nights that we offered huge discounts, one coming up this Friday.

We have our fingers crossed for the rest of the season and will continue to provide our customers with a top notch show at a very affordable price. With all the things we are doing the right way, I am still hopeful that customers will still come out in force the rest of the season. I hope so because this is my last year and I would hate to go out on a terrible year. I put too much into it for that to happen.

So, wish us luck and the same to all of the other haunters out there!

Toothpaste
10-11-2012, 09:01 AM
Have any new haunts opened in the last year or so? I'm guessing it's a combination of factors.

Our haunt is starting to have the opposite problem; many haunts have closed so now there are only two major ones left in the metro area.

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-11-2012, 09:40 AM
Not really Toothpaste!

I noticed one major new one this year but not much else. Several well known haunts have disappeared around here the last couple years. We always have a few new ones pop up and go away after a season or two. I am pretty sure that we will see a few more not opening next year with the way things are going this year. We won't be open next year but it has little to do with our numbers and more to do with my health.

I talked to a couple more haunt owners yesterday and it seems like all the local haunted houses are having a really bad year. Even some of the "Scream Parks" & Hay rides that usually have huge numbers have been way down and are closing early on some nights. I have never closed early for any reason in ten years. I just could not do that to our customers who may have driven a long time to get here. I would never go back to a haunt that was closed when I arrived at a time when they were supposed to be open. But, I must admit I concidered it on a couple nights this season.

I am still hopeful that things will work out in the end. We have 3 more weekends and a couple huge special events still to come. Plus we have always done really good on Devil's Night and Halloween. A bunch of my crew has decided to either volunteer the rest of the season or only take gas money. It was hard to even ask them to do it but they are really awesome and dedicated. They feel horrible about what is happening this season. I love these guys. With a small payroll the rest of the way I am now confident that I will at worst, break even and not owe anyone once the season is over.

john haines
10-11-2012, 04:23 PM
i think everybody is hurting, even here in pennsylvania. (from what i'm hearing....)

Corey Burton
10-11-2012, 06:27 PM
i think everybody is hurting, even here in pennsylvania. (from what i'm hearing....)I can't really say the same here in North Carolina. Many of the haunts in the region are showing upwards of 30% increases in attendance. From what I hear, Tony of Spookywoods is saying that this year is the best one in several. I honestly can't tell you how many requests me and my parents get to reserve tickets(which we don't do) for our haunt! Last year we sold out every night(around 850 tickets) and this year we're looking to do the same. But then again, we're a charity haunt and thus only open for six nights a year.

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-11-2012, 10:42 PM
Well, just when you think the Tigers are done the best pitcher in baseball throws a complete game shutout to propel them to the ALCS. Ugg! And so it continues and our numbers will be affected now for sure!

MDKing
10-11-2012, 11:03 PM
Just be glad you only have one team in your market. I'm in the unique and unfortunate position of having two playoff starved teams in my market, both with elimination games on a Friday night! I can't think of anyone else in such a
precarious position of dealing with not one but two teams at once.

Allan

Dark Tiki Studios
10-11-2012, 11:24 PM
I know I'm going a bit off topic... I thought I was up on my MI haunts, but I can't figure out who the "haunt with the gimmick" is? Anyone want to PM me?

George Maser
10-12-2012, 12:08 AM
Haunts around me in South Carolina are down 50%. But on the other hand dozens of new haunted trails have appeared. Our past exit surveys say if you go to a good haunt you will go to three over halloween. If you start out at a lousy haunt - you just stay home.

Karl Fields
10-12-2012, 09:54 AM
Allan, you are not alone. Giants 30 miles west, A's 30 miles north. Gotta thank the Halloween gods the A's were eliminated last night! I had terrible visions of '89 with a Giants/A's World Series :(




Just be glad you only have one team in your market. I'm in the unique and unfortunate position of having two playoff starved teams in my market, both with elimination games on a Friday night! I can't think of anyone else in such a
precarious position of dealing with not one but two teams at once.

Twin Locusts
10-12-2012, 10:00 AM
Howie, look at the nights games were. The Rangers killed us the past two years. Even if the games are over they still drank during the game or want to talk about it. I bet it is the games. The Cardinals kicked Larry's but last year too.

this.

Time doesn't much matter, money was spent, beers were swilled, if they stopped anywhere on the way home it was a sportsbar.

Follow up because I would wager that the remaining Friday and Saturdays without games will outpace last years same date comparison. People who have it on their "agenda" to come see you will still do it. At least I hope this is the case, hope you make up for the sputter.

MDKing
10-12-2012, 06:22 PM
Allan, you are not alone. Giants 30 miles west, A's 30 miles north. Gotta thank the Halloween gods the A's were eliminated last night! I had terrible visions of '89 with a Giants/A's World Series :(


I stand corrected Karl I forgot about your market having two teams. I feel your pain. The O's just lost but its probably to late tonight. Now I need the Nats out! Good luck Karl!

Allan

freak 'n' stein
10-15-2012, 04:04 PM
We're in a college town. I'm SURE the game impacted us + the state fair got here this past week. We're down in comparison too so I'm hoping with our loss the other night, future game times being in our favor, and payday being today that the next two weekends freaking rock!! Sad to hear the industry is down, but glad to know it's not just us!!

Haunt tech
10-15-2012, 06:52 PM
I know I'm going a bit off topic... I thought I was up on my MI haunts, but I can't figure out who the "haunt with the gimmick" is? Anyone want to PM me?


Lets just say there is only haunt in Pontiac MI that says you can win double your money back if you defeat the wizard (HA HA HA HA HA HA HA) oh did I say that?

Good luck finding the wizard

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-27-2012, 12:32 AM
Well, as the season nears it's end, nothing has improved very much. This will by far be our worst year attendance wise. With 5 days left I predict being down 35% from last year which was not great either. Last night was one our worst Friday's ever! If any Michigan haunt says that they are having a good season, I would say they are lying! I have talked to several local haunts who have all said the same thing. We had many customers on different nights tell us that this haunt or that haunt was already closed when they arrived including one of the best known haunts in the area tonight.

I was willing to blame a lot of this year on the Tigers run and the weather which has rained at least one day every weekend so far. But tonight the temp was in the upper 40's with no rain and the Tigers were not playing. I expected to do close to 900 people tonight which would have been about average for us on the last Friday of the month based on the last 9 years. We did way less than that. Steady all night but never busy.

It will take a miracle for me to even break even this year. We have always made a decent profit.

How is it with any other Michigan haunts? Will anyone claim to be having a good year? What about the rest of the country? I am truly afraid that it may be the end for many haunts in my state after this year as two have already contacted me asking if I would be interested in buying their haunts or any of their props.

Is it just the economy? That is my only explanation. Is this the beginning of the end for haunted attractions? I have never seen anything like this in 26 years and I am very concerned about our industry as a whole after this year.

son-of-sam
10-27-2012, 02:25 AM
I at first did not see this post do to my frantic hustle to try to make ends meat''LOL''. My year has been an atom bomb to the head. I had ''killer'' marketing and most of that ended up being nothing. I still have not made the marketing money back. I know my website hurt me but most of my costumers find me in the westword off there map in the paper. I am the one who sells tickets so I ask questions when people come to my booth. It also looks like my website is not doing to bad because most of my sales have come from pre sold tickets[but in the booth most of the costumers say they found me on the map in westword]. I have spread over 10000 flyers on my off time. People like my show but it just seems like its not my time yet and maybe I should wait till things pick up. I really feel your pain and I feel the vets deserve the big numbers because you have spent the years of sacrifice to make it happen. P.S. I have also noticed the decor for halloween crazy low like some of the support is lacking.

Greg Chrise
10-27-2012, 09:13 AM
There has been a definite pause in all businesses and I think it is some weird uncertainty with who is going to be president. That isn't propably going to make much of a difference in the end but, who is going to be taxed more or who is going to lose free benefits and who is going to have to all of a sudden pay for health care for employees has any luxury and entertainment spending on hold. Everyone is going to need that last $20 for when they come out of their bunkers in November. At least if you go with all the things the talk radio and TV news are going on about.

The old dudes seem to thing this happens every 4 years.

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-27-2012, 10:15 AM
I placed a very frank poll on our web site. I am interested to see what our customers and other industry people think is the reason.

Capt.Chaos
10-27-2012, 12:52 PM
I have tripled my advertising, reviews are AWESOME, Facebook likes are 5 times what I was at last year, we expanded, I'm down 40%. I have gone through numerous emotions and I have 3 nights left. What am I going to do....I'm going to enjoy my last 3 nights and remember why I built this place in the beginning. I will refocus my energy after the season, strive forward, and get wasted at Transworld and the Legendary Haunt Tour. Am I going to lose money? A shit load. But, in my eyes it is a business. And any business is a risk. I have made money and I have lost money. But I am proud of the fact that I am willing to role the dice. I believe most people on this forum feel the same. I will tell you what I am not going to do...Quit. What it all comes down to for me is 10:30 am today a guy and his family walked up to me and said; " Hey Buck. You run hat haunted house right? We thought it was absolutely amazing. We can't wait to see what you come up with next year. Thanks for a Great evening. You guys are awesome!"

Relax. It's only a movie.

Love ,
Buck