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son-of-sam
10-15-2012, 11:35 PM
My fist year has been HORRIBLE. I have only seen 200 people and I cant not figure out why. My marketing is great. I am in all the wendys,circle ks, game stops, local newspapers and I have handed out flyers to all the schools, halloween stores and shops that are twenty minutes from my haunt. I also have radio ads being aired. My place is easy to find and have lights and music going outside plus a huge light up sign. Almost everyone that has went in my show says it was good or great and only had fifteen people not like it[which I think is pretty good out of 200]. I just for the life of me can not figure out why things are not working out. I am a nice distance from any other haunt except for one and his show is half the size of minds. Maybe I am cursed and its not my time yet. I also have had actors holding signs and hanging out by the street waving and looking creepy. If anyone has any info they can help me I am all ears because this last half I got to pull ALOT of people in. Someone told me I need to get my line really long and need to stall a long time before letting people in so it looks like my show is worth waiting in a huge line for but that sounds jerkish to make the first person wait a hour maybe longer to let them in after opening. Thanx and hopefully I can turn this around.

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-16-2012, 05:46 AM
I say look at some of the other threads on here about the slow season. It's not just you, it seems to be a national trend with a few exceptions!

Allen H
10-16-2012, 08:37 AM
Where in the country are you?

Allen H
10-16-2012, 09:12 AM
Did anyone tell you that you should expect to lose money the first few years? It sounds like you are on track for an 800 to 1,000 person season. What you can do to increase your attendance right now is contact every newspaper in a hundred mile radius and get on their free events listings. What is the name of your attraction?
Allen H

Greg Chrise
10-16-2012, 09:17 AM
He's somewhere is Colorado.

You need to back track regularly to all the places that have fliers and make sure they are actually on the counters and being distributed. There should be a flier exchange and cooperation with even the other haunts in the area and any costume shops or halloween stores.

Sometimes it bes like that but really low numbers are typically all the fliers and posters are still in someone's car or have been taken off counters and aren't really there. Do things like buy 10 pizzas and ask the delivery crew to sent a flier out with every box of pizza. Instead of begging or relying on buddies you can buy your way to higher numbers relatively inexpensively if you have street smarts.

Beyond that it comes down to the overall look of the place, the quality of the advertising materials and making sure all other halloween and haunt deals are not bad mouthing each other but co-advertising.

Chances are people are not going to in great numbers pull off the road on spur of the moment, they want to plan an evening and so your efforts now may end up in bigger numbers the last weekend. Just like how many times some church is having a car wash or something like that and you drive by.

You may have to get some women to run the fliers and talk to all the women managers at all of these stores to not have all the fliers just discarded. You have to sort of match the personalities at the various places that can help you.

There should be signs out on the streets like a garage sale. Horrible numbers usually mean people you relied on didn't actually do what they said they would do with fliers. One charity I rented a haunt and costumes to did 421 people after being in business for years because all the posters and fliers were supposed to be distributed by an unemployed guy who had no money to go anywhere and they were all in the tool box of his pick up truck. Conversely I have seen a rural location only see 800 people their first year and they had 12,000 fliers taken by people allowed by Walmart stores.

Sometimes it is the location. Usually it is the fliers are not really on the counters as some manager decided this isn't supposed to be on the counter. Beyond that it is all reputation. I have had haunts see 12,000 people and there were not 15 people that thought it was not good. Maybe 3 people out of 12,000 got dragged there and weren't into it or felt abused somehow.

To really assess what is happening we would need some pictures of the outside of the place, see what the fliers look like, is there a website, facebook page?

son-of-sam
10-16-2012, 10:49 AM
I was thinking it my be the location. The building is 9000 square feet but does not look it from the outside view. The building is really long and not that wide from the outside view. Plus there is two buildings right next door so you can not really see how long the building is. I knew i would loose money the first year but I figured with all the marketing I would at least come up with the rent that was really reasonable for a building that size. I am located in denver colorado and there is some heavy competition in this state[some haunts have a million plus wrapped into there shows] and some of my customers were gripping about there shows and said mine was better which was way more people then fifteen[so I thought I was doing good but I guess I was wrong]. I have a website horrordenver.com and a facebook page. All my flyers have been flying off of the shelves and the ones that were handed out at the school were done by me[I personally handed them out to the students at lunch time. Thanx for the info

freak 'n' stein
10-16-2012, 10:54 AM
My fist year has been HORRIBLE. I have only seen 200 people and I cant not figure out why. My marketing is great. I am in all the wendys,circle ks, game stops, local newspapers and I have handed out flyers to all the schools, halloween stores and shops that are twenty minutes from my haunt. I also have radio ads being aired. My place is easy to find and have lights and music going outside plus a huge light up sign. Almost everyone that has went in my show says it was good or great and only had fifteen people not like it[which I think is pretty good out of 200]. I just for the life of me can not figure out why things are not working out. I am a nice distance from any other haunt except for one and his show is half the size of minds. Maybe I am cursed and its not my time yet. I also have had actors holding signs and hanging out by the street waving and looking creepy. If anyone has any info they can help me I am all ears because this last half I got to pull ALOT of people in. Someone told me I need to get my line really long and need to stall a long time before letting people in so it looks like my show is worth waiting in a huge line for but that sounds jerkish to make the first person wait a hour maybe longer to let them in after opening. Thanx and hopefully I can turn this around.

All my actors/staff park on the front side of the building and coincidentally it's street-side to the main road so we ALWAYS look busy. Hahaha.

robisc
10-17-2012, 09:44 AM
Just my $.02 but in looking at the map of your area there is some major competition within very close proximity, these are I'm guessing established haunts too which means that folks that may go to only one or 2 haunts a year will go to the ones that they know about or have heard about as having a reputation as being good, not saying yours is not any good but some folks don't want to gamble their money with the unknown particularly with the economy like it is right now.

Then there are the folks that wanna do a haunt tour of lets say 2 haunts a weekend, with the four or 5 weekend nights the haunts are open your show may be the last on their list due to the unknown.

Now if you really do have a good show then the 200 people you did see will tell 200 more and that will snowball and would expect that next week will be much better, and next year even better.

Being a first year haunt with a market saturated like yours you've got to have a catch to draw people from the others this year since they don't know anything about you so what about your pricing? Can you undercut those guys and advertise that as your goal to save some bucks while providing the same scares.

Finally and no disrespect but your website doesn't look very good at all, personally if I were just going in blind looking for a haunt in your area and knew nothing about the any of the haunts and relying only on the webistes to be the decision maker then I would not wanna to gamble on this one, another question, is it House of Horror or Horror Denver? It's confusing to me, also I can't find you on facebook, that's important and free. These are only my thoughts and keep plugging away if it is as good as you say it is word will spread and it'll pick up.

son-of-sam
10-17-2012, 02:00 PM
I know the website is not a quality and my friend did it for free do to lack of time and the limited funds that I had do to having to use drywall and not the plywood walls I had[ I got what I paid for]. The facebook page is a fan page and it is house of horror. I can see that people judge a book by its cover and I can see how the website is effecting me do to the lack of ''spice'' that it has. I was not even going to put one up but some of the vets told me it is better to have a cheap one then none at all. All my marketing is all ready out that says prices but I do agree I should of low balled all the competition. Thanx for your guys input I did help my own demise by some of the fine things I should have tuned up[ I should of waited one more year to fix these things but its to late now got to ride it till the wheels fall off].

rwrussom
10-17-2012, 03:11 PM
First off, catch your breath. For most of us who do not run established large and mega haunts, all the money is made at the end. Your first year is an uphill battle to get established. To that end, make sure your show exceeds expectations as much as possible. That pays you back next year.
Communicate with your guests, find out how they found out about you.
Attendance, I am assuming you opened last weekend. If that was true and those were your first days ever, be thankful for the slow start, Im sure you ended with a giant list of improvements you can make for this weekend. If anyone told you you would be getting more that 2500 this year, it was a pipe dream unless you are doing something really impressive. There are some building with half a milliion plus budgets there first year, but I am assuming you are the average guy. You will should see a big leap this weekend, maybe 5x and the double that next weekend. If you are not at least doubling one weekend to the next then there is an issue somewhere that needs attention.
On lines, there is some truth to keeping them. While people will drive by a two hour line because it is too long, they will also skip an event that looks dead. This is about pacing at the gate. It is not a one size fits all answer. You need to teach the gate keeper, the person who is pacing the show, to balance so as not to have pissed off customers but try to keep a line outside.
When established your attendance will relate closely to money spent on promotion. $1 per guest is often tossed around for your typical haunt. In general, this has held true for us. The money must be spent wisely of course. For your first year, that kinda flys out the window. Some have suggested 3-4x that.
It will take two years to get even, like any other start up. At this point focus on providing the best show possible and attempt to exceed expectations whenever possible. You will grow from there.

rwrussom
10-17-2012, 03:22 PM
Just a bit more perspective for you. We are in a small market on the west coast, so haunts are not an established form of entertainment here. Our first year we spent over $5000 on advertizing and on our first night we got 2 paying customers. That's not a typo, it was two.
By the end of the season we had over 2500 and a lot of education. Don't give up hope!

brucejuice39
10-18-2012, 10:08 PM
Just thought I'd share some general observations to you. First and foremost unless I've found the wrong site entirely your website is down and it says Dungeon of Terror is closed sorry for any inconveinence. Now if you are still up and running your website is now sending conflicting messages to your customers. Also what kind of marketing did you do prior to opening? If I am right about your website I truly feel that in todays society that is your number one advertising tool and its not helping you at all currently in fact its hurting you. I'd fix that first and ASAP. http://www.thedungeonofterror.com/

screamforadream
10-18-2012, 11:43 PM
I just did some research real quick as well, dude, YOUR WEBSITE SAYS YOUR CLOSED, even on your listing that says your open, http://denverhauntedhouseguide.com/Listings/dungeonofterror.php once people click the link to YOUR website, IT SAYS CLOSED!!!

Shell out the few hundred dollars to a somewhat knowledgeable actor or college kid with a knack for this stuff, and FIX THAT! Until then, expect almost no one to show up, cause right now, the world thinks your closed!

Whoever said your website is your NUMBER ONE marketing tool, could not be more right!! You NEED to fix that if you have ANY hope at suceeding/making your money back, whatever, that is your FIRST PRIORITY!!

Hell, I can have the guy who did my website do yours over in the next day if you like it, FearYourDecimation.com he's someone I totally trust, but again, it costs money, but it takes money to make money! :)

oakhillshaunterTHEFEAR
10-19-2012, 02:44 AM
I have a long history with this website. When I first joined this forum I was a cocky know it all who actually had no idea what it took to start a haunt business and even less start any business. Some people defended me saying I was young and I'll learn most people ridiculed me and they were right for it(this relates to your problem I promise). After a little while I tried to start some little bullshit haunt design business online with no experience and then advertised the business to the people on here. All these people had experience many of them experts in this indisutry and they saw right through it immediately. I learned alot from that. Next couple of years I did a little bit of growing and understood a bit more how difficult it is to secure funding for a haunt business so I started looking for alternatives. Starting a smaller business to fund a larger business sounded like a solid idea! Well I took a look at the things I'm pretty exceptional at and the one thing that I thought I could capitalize on was airsoft. Not as famous as paintball but WAY more fun... In mine and my friends opinions. Still with very very very little experience in anything business related I drew up a business plan(a poor excuse for one if you asked me now), then I started looking for a location. The idea was to host the first SUCCESSFUL airsoft competition. Its been tried before but based off of the mechanics of the game very difficult to execute successfully. Any whoser I found a field that would let me try out my idea. I was sincere, unlike the bullshit design online business I really had a vested hope this idea would succeed. I wasn't in it to get rich I just wanted to succeed in my idea so I could grow and someday get to my passion for haunted houses. Well the field that took me was in TEXAS. I live in CALIFORNIA. Logistically the dumbest thing I could have ever done. He charged me $3,000 each day I wanted to lease out his field. The cost was projected on the amount of people I believed I could bring in. (two years later I found out I could have gotten a better field in CALIFORNIA to lease me the field for 200 bucks a day). I was so excited to hand this guy my money! I got right to advertising on the only thing I could afford. The airsoft forums of Texas. These guys tore me a new asshole. Two years prior to this airsoft competition I openly admitted to trying to start a fake haunt design business online. These guys researched my name and found my forum posts here and I lost all credibility. I spent atleast 1000 hours talking about the competition structure how it would all work out. I was confident that besides my prior transgressions some people would see that this would be great fun and try me out. I flew my ass and my brothers ass to Texas to referee and host this competition. I was praying for 150 competitors that is 30 teams of 5. I got 2 teams. TWO. I needed at least 25 teams to break even or maybe have a small bit of profit to buy a pizza. I got 2 teams.
Reasons It Failed:

Lost all credibility due to my history on the forums of this website
The web designer I could afford stole a picture from a different airsoft website and that website contacted me to take it down. Everyone found out. Hate that web designer!
The location was out of the state I lived in
I didn't even have enough man power to run it
My advertising was limited to speaking to the forum leaders of the airsoft community all of which bad mouthed me


My point in all of this is two fold. First impressions are EVERYTHING EVERYTHING EVERYTHING!!!! I've paid my dues to learn that very important fact of business life. For this industry I will never claim to be experience or any sort of expert. But I do know this much. A very large in fact majority of the business you bring in is based off of your first impression. And for most haunt businesses that is their website. The moment I looked at your website I knew the reason why. If I was a haunt customer in Denver colorado I would say "well that shit is definately fake!" No offense intended just what Ive said about haunts here in SOCAL. I go to a website and I think man this can't be real NEXT. The home haunt that is in my area has a better website than yours and theres is free also. It has some simple menu items. Some pictures of previous years. The dates and times they are open.

Second point. The owner of the filed in Texas told me something I will never forget. He told me "you need to make sure you find every way you can to allow the customers to giver you their money." This was in reference to selling the tickets to the competition online. The site I used to sell tickets on said that my event had ended and the tickets were no longer for sale. i wasn't on top of that and that could have lost me a team or two more that could have gotten me closer to breaking even. This relates heavily to your website broski. You need to be ontop of that. The guys that researched your site say that its says its closed are experience haunters who know what to look for in haunted house links. You are trying to attract your average everyday customer who has never heard of your site except for today when he got a flier from gamestop after pre ordering black ops 2 and decided to check out your website. If he didn't just type the website address into the address bar then he searched it on bing or google and your site says closed. That is very bad juju. All i'm saying is you definately need to get on that.

Hopefully nobody is too mean to me for talking so much its just I hope in some way I can help someone not make the same dumbass mistakes I made.
I sincerely hope your seasons continues and only gets better from here. I know in my heart if you put everything you got into this season and your heart and soul. Your customers will see that passion and it will snowball just like that other guy said.

rwrussom
10-19-2012, 10:32 AM
Oak -
Now you have something to share. I wish you patience wisdom, and luck as you forge ahead.

son-of-sam
10-20-2012, 01:25 AM
I ended up not buying dungeon of terror do to the fact I could not use there walls and had to use drywall so I backed out and lost the money I put down. The new site horrordenver.com every time I look it up it takes me right to my sight. I know the sight is cheap and for that I messed up but I had to spend five figures on drywall and framing that KILLED my budget. The real sad part is they let someone else open near me and let them use plywood walls but the same marshall would not let me and he also let the guy operate with no fire system in his 3500 square foot tent and made me wire the fire system that is in my building to turn on the normal lights if it goes off. Also all my lights and props sockets there plugged into also shut down when it goes off and I had to pay for that out of my pocket to. I ran out of money after all that and marketing costs. I did not know I was going to get done like something you pick up in a dive bar but it happened. Thanx for your guys comments good or bad and I will keep going.

Gore Galore
10-20-2012, 06:50 AM
Oakhill haunter,

Humility will get you everywhere.
Sir, you appear to be growing up.

Son of sam
Different codes apply to different structures. You are in a building, your competition is in a tent.
Dry wall is less flammable.
And fire marshalls are also fallible. they can and do make independent decisions.
Regardless, you need to not worry about anyone else. Just always improve on what you have done.
Worrying about your competition, just takes your mind off what is important. Doing better than what you did previously.

Motograter
10-20-2012, 07:01 AM
Don't worry and don't feel bad. I think our first season we only did 1,400 or something around that. It will take time to get established. Just keep flooding the area with your name and let the word of mouth spread. Maybe next year invest a little money into a professionally done website and flyers. It might just help. I learned that people like eye appealing images, something that will catch there attention. We used to hand-make signs on plywood for out by the road and found out that was turning people away. So we had high graphic banners made up. I think in this industry people do judge a book by it's cover. Just my 2 cents

Terrorknight
10-20-2012, 11:18 AM
I'm going to hit you with the truth, your website is killing you. You could have spent 1 million dollars on your haunt and passed out a billion flyers but if your sending people to that website it's not going to matter. Your website is what tells people they want to be there, yours is boring which tells people your haunt is going to be boring. Trust me i'm not being an ass I just really want you to understand how important your website is. A website to a haunt is like a trailer to a movie It's possibly the most important thing you do to draw people in. Can you see how many hits your website has received ? If so look at that number if your getting good traffic but low attendance you know that's your issue. If your traffic is low you know people aren't picking up your flyers, and it's a design issue. But i'm telling you after 19 years of this you need to go to a haunt website designer and get a package where your web and print match and are impacting, like a Rogues Hollow, someone who knows the bizz and can build a quality site.

Robert J Dudzieck
Fright Factory PA

tonguesandwich
10-20-2012, 05:22 PM
New to Denver and not staying but I got a small network of about 550 fitness junkies here. I might be able to drive some your way. Do you have an online coupon? or incentive ? Might be able to get some to meet me there one night.

MovieRelics
10-20-2012, 10:41 PM
If you need to find a web developer that can help you design a great looking haunted house website, visit our haunter resource area on HauntersDigest.com. You can find a listing of vendors and their ratings. I would suggest you talk with Rouge's Hallow or Chad Savage from Sinister Visions. If they don't work out for you, drop me an email and I'll see what I can do to help you out. But everyone is right. Your website is the public face of your haunt and needs the best attention short of the walls in the haunt themselves. Your marketing should start there. I've spent this past season looking at a TON of websites for haunted houses and you can tell who are the better attractions because they've at least taken the time to make sure they have a great website for their haunt that represents them. Think of it like the first impressions you get when you meet someone for the first time. And in this day and age, the first thing most likely that people will see is your website before anything else. If it looks like it was put together in less than 5 mins by some free website builder or no real attention to it, vs your competition that make their site match their branding, theming, and load it with features showcasing the attraction, your customers will spend their money with them instead of you.

http://www.hauntersdigest.com/vendortype/websitedesigners/

Capt.Chaos
10-21-2012, 08:07 AM
This business is not a quick money deal. I am in my 3rd year. We are being called "the haunted destination of South Dakota." I have very little competition and a very elaborate show. High Detail and production value. People are blown away and say it is the best in the state. I am also over $100k invested. I will lose money again this year and probably next year too. BUT... I planned to be in the black by year 5 when I started. I will achieve that goal. I have been open 5 nights and only done about 600 people. Last night was about 300. Tonite should be around 250. I am open next week and will be over 4000. Was I nervous 4 days ago when 42 people showed up? Yes. Treat it like a business. Build a following. Give yourself some time to build a reputation and solidify your event. Accept this and in about 4-6 years you will make a nice little profit.

Best of luck.

Buck

Dreamreaper
11-19-2012, 11:02 AM
I just did some research real quick as well, dude, YOUR WEBSITE SAYS YOUR CLOSED, even on your listing that says your open, http://denverhauntedhouseguide.com/Listings/dungeonofterror.php once people click the link to YOUR website, IT SAYS CLOSED!!!

Shell out the few hundred dollars to a somewhat knowledgeable actor or college kid with a knack for this stuff, and FIX THAT! Until then, expect almost no one to show up, cause right now, the world thinks your closed!

Whoever said your website is your NUMBER ONE marketing tool, could not be more right!! You NEED to fix that if you have ANY hope at suceeding/making your money back, whatever, that is your FIRST PRIORITY!!

Hell, I can have the guy who did my website do yours over in the next day if you like it, FearYourDecimation.com he's someone I totally trust, but again, it costs money, but it takes money to make money! :)

I agree with you and his site should never say CLOSED. We had over 70,000 hits on our web site just in the month of Oct. this year and we are working on a new one that is also more connected to facebook the web site we have now was a last minute rush we put together with plans to redo it.

drfrightner
11-19-2012, 11:24 AM
When you said you only did 200 people did you mean 2000 or 20,000 ... you lost me there. If you only did 200 people how did you pay even one single bill? how much did you spend to build this haunt, and how much did you spend on things like marketing, etc.

This year our Lemp Brewery Haunt cost MORE to operate than it brought it and had it been a first year haunted house I would have been in some MAJOR league trouble. It wasn't the first time a haunt cost more to operate than it took in but its always been that third haunt we've operated not the main two. So I've been there and felt the pain. However I can't imagine only doing 200 people ... you must have done something wrong here.

Larry

son-of-sam
11-19-2012, 07:23 PM
All together I ended up spending 30k. Most of all my props and costumes I already had which I spent about 25k on over the three years I did my home haunt. The marketing I used was scared.com. It is a collaboration of eight haunted house owners that split the cost of the marketing and we also cross promote by handing out maps to show were all eight haunted houses are. We also run a five haunted house ticket special to help promote all of the haunts on scared.com. He was also expose to get all our coupons in wendys,circle ks, and gamestops. When I went to check the gamestops and circle ks NONE of them had any coupons or the posters or the cardboard displays in the locations. Something that did not help either is the way the building sits on the street it made it look small besides that I really do not know what went wrong. 90% of the customers I did get [800] liked it and even denverhauntedhouses.com gave me a good review. I handed out 10,000 flyers and even dropped some envelopes in peoples mail boxes with a letter telling them they were selected for a free promotional ticket to my haunted house hoping that would bring people in. I only got three of those tickets back out of fifty. All the kingsooper market stores sold our tickets also. There were radio ads aired and we even had a ad on the first page in the westword for the hole month also. The two radio stations that aired the ads costed 25k alone. I never really heard my ad but I called the stations and they gave me a play list of when they played even though it did not add up to me. Maybe some one put a gypsie curse on me but I tried everything and it still did not go well.

Greg Chrise
11-19-2012, 08:44 PM
I've been flowing this and would change the name of the place for next years marketing. I'm thinking the web sites from the previous owners that said they were closed probably contradicted you even having the opportunity to say that was the old guys and this is you. Plus there might be more to this since we haven't seen any pictures or videos, the old owners may have had quite a lame show and sold because they knew they had their run. So using the same haunt name may have been bad ju ju.

Sometimes 800 people is how it all starts and that is just the way it is. It isn't like some of these books say and just figure your ticket price times 10,000 people and that's how much money you are going to make.

john haines
11-27-2012, 01:01 PM
damn black friday was thru the roof because everybody is using credit cards. wonderful. another great move for the economy. come january, nobody can pay their bills. the fiscal-cliff will be another diaster for the nation in 2013 (if we make it).