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View Full Version : If you could give only one piece of advice



Twin Locusts
06-16-2009, 10:37 AM
I've only been on here a few weeks and have realized the depth and breadth of experience here is immeasurable. Many of you are certainly qualified to be paid consultants and I've read about, '...if you don't hire a consultant, don't start a haunt'. So, not fishing for a pro bono consult, just a brief, gratis, tip or two.

If you could give only one piece of advice to a new haunter what would it be [besides, 'don't do it'] My Haunt will be in Greater Nashville TN, 2010

To give some perspective, these are some of the basics about the haunter and the resources:

Experienced field sales manager for a large multinational
Experience as a small business owner, HR, buyer, marketer, sales, general
First haunt for sixth grade Fall Festival, volunteer in college for Jaycees
Production experience in ENG video and stage management
Board member for visual arts not-for-profit group - access to tons of artists
Brother's my partner, is a professional visual artist

So bottom line is, I know a little about a lot. My video and stage management experience are the most on point, in my view, to the actual production of a haunt. I know enough about small business to at least know what to investigate there, i.e. I've done plenty of lease work, HR, Insurance, etc. I manage venues and art shows for the group here so I've done a lot of liability and planning work.

Lastly, I think I've read every online article available here and on other magazine sites. Below are some of the areas I'll be deciding on over the next six months.

Urban core OR high rent suburb [A level mall corridor]
Best bang for the prop buck - animatronics, pneumatic, etc
Marketing bang [best for the money] billboard, radio, TV, etc [I have access to all free PR outlets]
Flex light industrial area OR Retail area OR old warehouse district
Biggest HR dedication - actors, security, construction

If anyone has any input on these types of things I will be greatly appreciative. Baptism by fire has been my most common learning experience and I've re-invented several wheels, so any input or sage words are a bonus. Thanks from a Noob.

Greg

UndeadProd
06-16-2009, 11:00 AM
Visit as many haunted attractions as possible. There are big clusters of successful events - and with careful planning you can hit multiple targets over the course of an extended weekend. DOn't just focus on the fun stuff - but really look at the operations and organization involved in dealing with 100's or even thousands of people and cars in a single night.

Remember that it's a business - and most businesses take at least a couple years to return the initial investment. Too many haunts crash because they think they will turn a profit in year one. Create a business plan and stick to it.

Invest the $$ and buy bunches of Hauntworld videos and back issues of both HW and Haunted Attraction.

Also, join the HHA.

Badger
06-16-2009, 11:27 AM
<plug>

Hire me to do your advertising voicework for TV/Radio and to train your actors...

</plug>

damon carson
06-16-2009, 11:41 AM
Do not rely on message boards for answers for everything. You will get 100 opinions.
Damon

Gore Galore
06-16-2009, 11:42 AM
Make great use of your marketing skill.
It is all about getting your attraction in front of an audience, and making your event bigger than life.
Billboards, website etc...
Be willing to spend your money here because it is your single best return on investment.

Twin Locusts
06-16-2009, 12:07 PM
Thanks for the quick start on input!!

Scott -

I'm a lifelong Stillers fan; my wife and I go up for a home game every season; this year we may make it the Bengals game in Nov., maybe we could work something out to see your place? If we get browns tics it'll be during season so... It's tough living in the belly of the beast, these oiler fans hate my Steelers! 1 2 3 4 5 6

Damon -

I agree about the 'everyone's got an opinion' thing. I tend to like a lot of different opinions, especially disagreement; among all the differences good ideas tend to shake out. I already have pretty strong notions on most of my direction but I like it to be challenged by experience. Thanks for the input.

Greg

Killer Katie
06-16-2009, 02:19 PM
"Hear" all opinions and "see" all things, but only "listen" to your gut.

Darkblood
06-16-2009, 03:19 PM
My best line of advice...

Love it. Put your heart into it.
We didn't have much of a budget (still don't compared to most) but 2 years and only 1 complaint (a lady said it was too dark in certain areas for her to see everything). Everyone we asked while they left said they loved it or were too shaking and scared to respond.

Kirk

haunter112
06-16-2009, 03:28 PM
One piece of advice?


Haunting is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

There are probably fewer than 500 people in this country making a full-time living with dark attractions.

Most of those are darkride jocks making $9 an hour.

There are millionaire haunters but no one is actually making millions from haunting alone.

Add up all the time spent getting a haunt up and running...

Hell... most of us don't even make minimum wage.

Haunt because you love it... not because you think it's the yellow brick road.

RJ Productions
06-16-2009, 03:38 PM
Two things TIME and MONEY!!

Money-Figure out what you think it will cost and DOUBLE it, if someone else is doing it- quadruple it!!! Then you'll only be a litle off!

Time- Fiure how long you think something will take. 10 minutes- replace minutes with HOURS, 10 hours- replace hour with DAYS, 10 days- replace days with WEEKS, 10 weeks-replace weeks with MONTHS.

Now you can properly estimate time and money!!!

Twin Locusts
06-16-2009, 04:19 PM
Two things TIME and MONEY!!

Money-Figure out what you think it will cost and DOUBLE it, if someone else is doing it- quadruple it!!! Then you'll only be a litle off!

Time- Fiure how long you think something will take. 10 minutes- replace minutes with HOURS, 10 hours- replace hour with DAYS, 10 days- replace days with WEEKS, 10 weeks-replace weeks with MONTHS.

Now you can properly estimate time and money!!!

wow, CAPS and gratuitous exclamation marks in the same paragraph!!! Thanks for the warning, I believe you.

Vegas, what a strange place. You could give away a foreclosed home to every 100th patron this season.

I spend about two weeks a year out there, my wife's brothers an engineer with one of the hotel builders, first time I went they were building the bellagio annex, now he's finishing the planet hollywood hotel. Then they have nothing, nada, nothings moving. he's been there so long he has grass, and got to keep it including the irrigation system. ;)

The best things about vegas are winter golf [when the wind's down] and that there are enough New Yorkers living out there you can get real Italian food. The best malls they have look like a thug shootout could break out at any moment. I love the place but it's really hard to see the real vegas. Two Christmases ago I asked my nephew to take me somewhere that was there twenty years ago and not strip related. It was good to see some of the older town.

Dr. Giggles
06-16-2009, 09:49 PM
I have more experience from the actor side, so from that area here it is.

Common sense. I know you probably heard it before, but be smart. I have seen people really get themselves hurt because they didn't use their heads and stay away from the big drunk man. So use your noggin so it won't end up splattered up the wall.

HauntedMemphis
06-16-2009, 10:02 PM
I started researching last September/October prepping in the Memphis area for 2010 as well. I think I'm going through a lot of what you will be, so my advice is from what I've experienced so far.

In the Nashville area, you have about 10 haunts already. Learn what you can from them. Make sure you visit every one of them this October. When you do so, talk to customers. What do they like and dislike about the various haunts. Do they go to multiple haunts? You'd be surprised what you can learn informally while standing in line.

See if you can meet with some of the various haunt owners in your area too. I can't speak for Nashville, but here in Memphis, the haunters I've met with have been great, and very supportive.

If you really want to get in deeper, see if you can volunteer with one of the haunts this fall to see what you can pick up about your market you are dealing with.

I definately recommend hitting shows next year to go to workshops, see products, and network. Only question is whether it's getting too late by the time next years shows hit. You will likely be committed at that point. Go anyway. Anything you learn makes things easier on you.

Jim Warfield
06-17-2009, 09:51 AM
2222222222222222

Dr. Giggles
06-17-2009, 10:46 AM
Heed the "Jimisms" he knows all.
Well almost all.
Er atleast gives off that impression.
Or perhaps its that he has an opinion on all?
Who knows.
Well you probably do Jim.
But i don't.


So i'm done...

AW
06-17-2009, 11:21 AM
Don't pick at it or it will never heal
and if her hands and feet are bigger than yours she is probably not a she

OdetteDespairr
06-17-2009, 11:58 AM
Treat your actors well, with respect and with kindness, recognize their work and dedication. Your actors become a driving force as your attraction grows, and you want to make sure that they want to come back no matter what year after year.

Treat your props and products the same, wear and tear happen but you want your investments to last. Make sure storage is thought about beforehand, and not till the third weekend of October.

Invest in a few makeup classes or a makeup artist. Makeup knowladge is as important as anything else, and is frequently left till last. Understand that you dont have to be a SPFX genius but having a general knowladge of makeup can benifit you in the long run.

Listen...Learn...be open to criticisim....and put your heart into it...

Best of Luck

Jackie
Rotting Flesh Radio Haunt Hottie

Kevin Dells
06-17-2009, 09:23 PM
Having worked for two very large haunts over the past 10ish years i do have good knowledge of being the somewhat next in charge besides the owner. We did have other managers but i was skilled on almost all feilds while others were in charge of their feild of specialty.

Some of my best qualitys were i was genuine with people no matter if it's the goth kid in a slipknot shirt or an older adult with a degree, i treated them all the same.

To name a few more haunt qualitys, Make up, Building and set design, Actor training, Actor managment, Costume design, Public Relations,Advertising,Recruitment and on and on, i was the guy that had to be part of all of it.

The two owners i worked for thought they were people person type's which they were not, it's hard to run a team if your not a true people person to both clientel and staff. You can have all your marbles in place financially but if you can't run an ever changing team forget about it!

Your people i truly believe are your biggest assests, create a team, promise them nothing but give when you can from your heart and you'll do good. People that talk behind peoples backs, cut down, scream at people or are just irrate is in no way good people persons. Expect people to screw up, talk to them, praise them and move on. You must be true to yourself to sell yourself to others in a good way.

That said IF your that kind of funloving,good at dealing with stress kind of person i would say your ready, a huge pocketbook helps but you can start small and grow yearly if you have the key help by your side.

If your not running your actors somebody thats passionate and can give advice nicely is key.

Once youv'e got a good group of people that keep coming back then TRAIN them! The more you train them the more they learn just like any other company. Company's train their employee's for good reason, it makes the team work better and the product becomes better hence more people will buy.

To lay it out in importance.
1. Good team by your side
2. Your haunt can be small but if you have good acting, good make up, and characters people will love your show and want more, bring people back for a second look. High dollar props are nice but are meduim level scares, real people scare at high levels if well trained.
3.Once your profitting build themes not everybody has,be original. If there are three haunts next door and they all have clowns...Don't do clowns. There are enough themes out there and plenty of places to get idea's.
4. Build a good SCARY haunt. You want people freaking out as they walk out to there cars, they go to school or work and a freind asks "What did you do this weekend?" When they say they went to a haunt and it was scary as shit that message multiplys through the workplace and schools.
If it was a lame experience you'll be pegged as just an O.K. haunt. If it's so scary to some and they say it was so scary they won't ever go back, Great others will want to see what the whinners talking about. More Customers Keep it up!

Those a a few majors i think of right off my head, hope they help.

Twin Locusts
06-18-2009, 06:44 AM
Having worked for two very large haunts over the past 10ish years i do have good knowledge of being the somewhat next in charge besides the owner. We did have other managers but i was skilled on almost all feilds while others were in charge of their feild of specialty.

Some of my best qualitys were i was genuine with people no matter if it's the goth kid in a slipknot shirt or an older adult with a degree, i treated them all the same.

To name a few more haunt qualitys, Make up, Building and set design, Actor training, Actor managment, Costume design, Public Relations,Advertising,Recruitment and on and on, i was the guy that had to be part of all of it.

The two owners i worked for thought they were people person type's which they were not, it's hard to run a team if your not a true people person to both clientel and staff. You can have all your marbles in place financially but if you can't run an ever changing team forget about it!

Your people i truly believe are your biggest assests, create a team, promise them nothing but give when you can from your heart and you'll do good. People that talk behind peoples backs, cut down, scream at people or are just irrate is in no way good people persons. Expect people to screw up, talk to them, praise them and move on. You must be true to yourself to sell yourself to others in a good way.

That said IF your that kind of funloving,good at dealing with stress kind of person i would say your ready, a huge pocketbook helps but you can start small and grow yearly if you have the key help by your side.

If your not running your actors somebody thats passionate and can give advice nicely is key.

Once youv'e got a good group of people that keep coming back then TRAIN them! The more you train them the more they learn just like any other company. Company's train their employee's for good reason, it makes the team work better and the product becomes better hence more people will buy.

To lay it out in importance.
1. Good team by your side
2. Your haunt can be small but if you have good acting, good make up, and characters people will love your show and want more, bring people back for a second look. High dollar props are nice but are meduim level scares, real people scare at high levels if well trained.
3.Once your profitting build themes not everybody has,be original. If there are three haunts next door and they all have clowns...Don't do clowns. There are enough themes out there and plenty of places to get idea's.
4. Build a good SCARY haunt. You want people freaking out as they walk out to there cars, they go to school or work and a freind asks "What did you do this weekend?" When they say they went to a haunt and it was scary as shit that message multiplys through the workplace and schools.
If it was a lame experience you'll be pegged as just an O.K. haunt. If it's so scary to some and they say it was so scary they won't ever go back, Great others will want to see what the whinners talking about. More Customers Keep it up!

Those a a few majors i think of right off my head, hope they help.

Thanks Kevin, you get it.

Allen H
06-19-2009, 02:28 AM
Hmmmnnn.....one piece of advice.
Stop watching television, use that time to work on your show. Really, business plan, logo, sculpting, molding, searching the internet for new products that are begging to be brought to the industry, working on costumes. Wait....in my rambling I have discovered my tidbit of advice to pass on. Costumes, work on your costumes first. Get them done by july and make 10 more than you think you will need. Costumes are something that most people put off until the last minute, they are often an after thought and most haunts have terrible costumes because of it.
There is no excuse for this, they can be started as soon as you know your theme, they are easy to store, and can make a huge impression on your guests. Think about it, once you have a location and actors you can have a decent haunt just by throwing costumes into the mix, ten of your friends with no costumes and two cool animatronics would be a crappy show. the same ten friends in cool costumes on a wooded trail and you have a modest show.
Best of luck to you in your endeavors,
Allen H

freak 'n' stein
06-19-2009, 06:39 PM
hmmmnnn.....one piece of advice.
Stop watching television, use that time to work on your show. Really, business plan, logo, sculpting, molding, searching the internet for new products that are begging to be brought to the industry, working on costumes. Wait....in my rambling i have discovered my tidbit of advice to pass on. Costumes, work on your costumes first. Get them done by july and make 10 more than you think you will need. Costumes are something that most people put off until the last minute, they are often an after thought and most haunts have terrible costumes because of it.
There is no excuse for this, they can be started as soon as you know your theme, they are easy to store, and can make a huge impression on your guests. Think about it, once you have a location and actors you can have a decent haunt just by throwing costumes into the mix, ten of your friends with no costumes and two cool animatronics would be a crappy show. The same ten friends in cool costumes on a wooded trail and you have a modest show.
Best of luck to you in your endeavors,
allen h

awesome, awesome, awesome!