View Full Version : Location, location, location
10-21-2012, 10:46 AM
Perhaps some, or many of you wrangle with this question - how far will people travel from home to visit a good haunt on any given night?
I am currently developing an all-new haunt (very early stages) in the Minneapolis-St Paul area. The current site I have in mind is quite a neat place, BUT it's 30 miles south of downtown proper in farm country, practically in the middle of nowhere. While there are good haunts right in town, I see more and more are having to locate well outside of town - mainly the hayride-type attractions (hayrides are not currently part of the plan).
The landowner asked me if anyone would come out that far. I replied "Yes, if the haunt is an especially exceptional one". Or did I just answer my own question?
10-21-2012, 12:31 PM
I have been to quite a few non exceptional haunts and still considered it loads of fun. But I'm weird and travel to jobs as regular routine 30 miles or 50 miles just to get to a few week long project. To listen to younger people they are pretty much illiterate about distance and something 30 miles away is just minutes away. Yeah like 60 minutes with all the traffic lights and speed trapps and school zones, maybe 45 minutes if you in some kind of flow.
The key seems to be exceptional advertising. One of my haunts is 80 miles from this town and they can't seem to get anyone from my town with a news paper ad and a web site that is one page and has Halloween gifs on it. They do alright with attendence as it is so really haven't tried. Or in reality the amount they would need to spend would be astranomical and it might bring 300 or 500 total people. I think I advised not to spend the money or to worry about that town when higher population towns are coming from even father away.
There is some kind of culture thing where people like the opportunity to leave the big city and the hussle and bustle and go out into the country but the medium sized towns tend to hunker down and not want to go anywhere. Nothing to excape from as it is already somewhat relaxed and has the theaters and things to do if you really insisted on having some entertainment.
Infact the rural 80 mile away group come to this town if they want to have dinner and a movie. These trips might be once a month or once every other weekend. There is nothing between here and there and it is more comforatable here than heading into big city traffic, parking problems and chaos.
There seems to be an old school and a new school way of promoting and it looks to me like the new school way is sort of winning larger numbers of customers. The older haunts might not be tremendously detailed but have a certain character that is still cool. The marketing plan is not to show everything inside the place as it might not equate to jumping up and wanting see more. The new school way is compiling years of pictures of here is a visual sample of what this place is about. Here is the type of things that are here and you are looking at 10 feet of something that is 100 times that much more of things like this, props, well developed actor costumes and so on.
It seems paying either extreme, you can't see anything until you buy a ticket or here is what ever one is talking about and here are pictures of actual people inside the place, are both successful to a degree. A lame haunt starting out has to go old school and may work toward being new school. The difference in both spectacle and attendance might be as dramatic as seeing 6,000 people to seeing 60,000 people.
In the beginning you will have to do some stunty things like have bands on site from Mineapolis St Paul or popular DJs that are national appeal and pay them $1000 or $2000 to show up and this might seem pointless because only 50 people made the trip to see them and 20 of the people seem to be only their own groupies but, The word of mouth from this spreads tremendously on social networks to an organic and entusiastic level that really can't be purchased by hiring overweigh ad guys who have no personality and every time you see them they are eating something doing brainstorming on a couch.
Even a brand new venue can have things that sound like there is a lot happening and the new vibe is more like what a music festival has. Face painters, car shows, bands of different styles. There are ways to have vendors there and you just have them and not necessarily make money from the add ons, they get free tickets and pay no space rent just to make the party really happen. Some bads will show just to have people to play for. Not many or they will be intrested in selling their merchandise and having a crowd and only ask for expenses to move all their stuff there. Several years down the line you can ask for minimal fees to cover electricity and hook ups but in the beginning you don't want any vendor to have a burden or scratch you off their list because they had to pay money and just made that back and worked days and days to do it. If it was free to show up and they made $20 they can't say anything bad. Where esle were they going to be in October.
So there I just added another 3 types of groups that might have 1500 followers and fans, even some french fry trailer guy has been doing the social marketing thing for years and has 600 followers and some percentage will come. You can make $40 off such a dude or turn him into a diciple for how much fun a halloween event is for years and years.
The end result I have heard from gatherings that were destined to fail were things like, they just charged me $10 to stand in their yard. I can stand anywhere for free. What kind of shister crap is that. Or I just spent $40 in gas and $20 to get in for and that's it? You can avoid this buy at least providing an environment. Well it looked like everyone was having lots of fun and there were lots of people there, maybe it just isn't my scene, they still got my $15. Looks like they earned it, it's me it isn't them.
Not just think about bill boards and upgraded web sites, do it. Produce trailers for your event. There are tons of people that will do exciting things just to be part of it and try their hand at completing things or adding a line to their resume of what they have done. And every pre advertisement or contact for every aspect of these things that are outside of the haunt itself are in themselves a personal invite to the event. Even if you get a no, you will have that person wonder about it to 5 other people if they should do it or not.
It's an all year campaigne and although we see things on this forum, you aren't promoting to other haunters, maybe in a FYI kind of thing of what you are doing out in the real world but you have to contact the real world in addition to all the other haunters.
10-24-2012, 11:45 AM
Thanks Greg. You've given me a lot to chew on. Yes, many people will travel far for even a mediocre haunt (I have seen it in haunts I've worked around the Twin Cities) but will that level keep them coming back? If they had fun, sure. If they got the scare of their lives - I would think so.
The great thing about a remote location is the absence of traffic and parking hassles, at least until you get to the haunt, if said haunt is popular!
I have many things in mind to set this haunt apart from the pack, but nothing I'd like to "give away" at this point. :) That's what I've always strived to do - not make the same stuff everyone else is. Too many haunts fall back on the same ol', same ol', just buying Freddy, Jason and Michael costumes and having at it. The promotional ideas are a great help. It has changed greatly in just the past few years, and word-of-mouth is much broader and popular than ever, thanks to social media.
It is a year-long thing, even longer to produce a quality show, no matter what the genre. This always seems to surprise people, which still amazes me. The question I always get is "what do you have laying around?" The answer? Nothing. I create for a specific job, season, locale. Not everything is generic. People get bored very quickly with stuff they see everywhere else, especially stuff they can buy themselves at Target.
But I digress. I kind of knew the answer to my original question, but it has begun to nag me a bit as I've visited the location many times this year, and it's 40 miles from my house! It'll be a great site, and now for the really difficult part - raising the first-year build-out dough!
10-24-2012, 05:47 PM
So for years I have been trying to locate other Minnesota haunters on this forum, but everyone seems to be to chicken to say hi.
Everyone will have their own thoughts on what you have asked, but being that I am a Twin Cities area resident and a haunter creating the Twin Cities newest haunt I would not travel long distance to visit a haunt nor would I want to drive a long period of time late on a Friday or Saturday night.
I live in Washington County, here is the list:
Trail of Terror - to far
Fright World - not open anymore to far
Severs Corn Maze - to far
Valley Scare - never been there but still to far
Scream Town - was there the first year they were open to far (was held at Severs Corn Maze)
The Soap Box Factory- would be neet to see once, but still to far
Frightmares at Buck Hill - closer yet, but still to far
Tunel of Terror - closed but went every year
The Dead End Hayride - never been there but was there a few times for a differant haunt and that was pushing it on distance
Haunting Experiance - right in town go every year
Fright Farm - in town go every year and by far the best haunt in town
Nightmares at Running Aces - in town go every year
Dreadwood Haunted Forest - in town go every year
Well I have just listed all of the major Minnesota haunts with the exeption to Duluths Haunted Ore Ship which I would like to get to someday but again thats to far. I am speaking for my other buddies to and I can say they would not make the trip out to your haunt either.
Could you attract people from all over yes, and even if you are differant then all of the other haunts you will have those who will not make the trip out to your haunt. Just like any other business you will know in your first 5 years and maybe even sooner if you need to move closer or not.
Anyway I would say best of luck to you and your team, as you never know what can happen but at least you have one Minnesotans thoughts.
The Forgotten Haunted Trail
10-25-2012, 10:38 AM
I've built props and houses for at least two of those haunts!
I definitely get what you mean, as far as travel, especially since most of the haunts you've mentioned are in Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka counties.
The question I asked was more out of apprehension at building a haunt seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. But I have noticed when I worked at places like Spookyworld in Shakopee (far SW edge of the TCs), we had kids showing up from Blaine (northern suburb). When I worked at Nightmare at Trout Air (now Running Aces) in Forest Lake (farther north than Blaine) we'd have kids from Burnsville (southern edge of Mpls).
So I guess that "if you build it, people will come" - as long as you advertise!!!
But that begs another question, open to all - since you are "in the biz" as it were, do you find yourself to be more jaded about other haunts? Expecting a little more than you're getting? Perhaps looking at it from a professional standpoint, the scares fall flat, because we're so into looking at the mechanics of a haunt, rather than (if I may say) the spirit of the haunt?
It's surprising to me that so many haunts seem to be clustered around the Shakopee area. You'd think Anoka, the Halloween Capitol, would have all kinds of haunts around it!
BTW - Hi!
10-26-2012, 08:21 PM
Thats the name Spooky World, I could not remember the name at the time of my last post. I can remember a few of the scares from that haunt, but the train one sticks in my head the most.
As for going to other haunts, there is one haunt that sticks out as differant then the others and does not have the norm when it comes to scares. That haunt would be Fright Farm, again I think they are the top haunt in the Twin Cities that I have been to.
I think when it comes to scares, sometimes you can see the actors
The distractions to scares are to noticeable
Or you get to a scare zone going through a haunt and the actors are not ready to do their thing either by not seeing you and srewing off
Will say that I have some ideas for next year that will be differant then everyone else and could even be differant then yours.
One thought thow being out in the goonies might be a good mood setter.
10-27-2012, 12:51 PM
I did do Spooky World in seasons 2 & 3, having designed the house in yr 2 - I believe that was in "96? Been awhile!! I couldn't quite figure those guys out - they insisted on re-inventing themselves every year!
Many props I made at still in use at the Fright Farm. I ran into the director just last week. I will say that they set their haunt most differently than anyone else. Although they do "re-invent" themselves every year, it's mostly out of necessity, and they just re-set and mostly work with what they have. They do have a talented volunteer (strictly) staff. The scares are quite good - I even managed to scare other ghouls that worked there!
Funniest thing? Going through a haunt with friends and having a monster recognize me - "Rrrarrr - oh, Hi [floater]!"
Being out in the sticks - it gets DARK! And I 've worked at a couple where natural fog comes in a blankets the place, adding some very real creeps to the place!
Hopefully the haunters we can all get are at least professional enough to haunt properly, dedicated enough to show up, ready to go, stick to their characters and spots, and really get into the spirit of things!
I knew one girl who had a great Romainian accent who sounded like she was meant for haunts. Only after the haunt did she drop it, and talk like the Minnesotan she was. I had no idea - she was that good and dedicated to her character!
I have not been to a haunt this year - mostly, because I am developing a new haunt, I don't want to be influenced by what others are doing, and inadvertantly copy it. Hopefully, I won't hear "oh, they're just like the Scarifying Haunt over in Thrillsville"!
Yeah, go ahead and use those names. Just give me a holla!
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