15 years and some insight
I agree that the bigger props do NOT bring in the customers. I purchased a big prop from Unit 70, (I love it and Bo builds all my stuff), and I was told before hand that the larger props will not make a difference in drawing the crowds, from a very experienced haunter in the business, and I must say I should have listened. It has nothing to do with the prop itself. When using a prop of this magnitude it is usually used as a distraction and not a scare. I have learned and am looking to replace it this year, of more things from the one and only Unit 70:lol:
We to have the same holding pattern and I think that some of ours might be location as we are located out in the sticks.....but one thing in our favor is the atmosphere, a historical farm homestead, which plays along with our farm theme. The haunt also changes in layout every year. It might be time to move away from the farm theme however the farm theme is what this is.
One of our major problems is having the money for advertising. I have always been careful in the advertising budget as I make sure that I do not spend more in advertising than we are going to take in. I also find that I am conservative in the amount due to the number of actors that we need to have to run such a large attraction (haunted barn/corn maze and a haunted hayride). It seems no matter how many actors I do have there is never enough. So we pay bonuses at the end of the year to actors, based on performance and attendance. We also support local FFA groups, and disability groups.
I think that advertising is the key here. We by no means have the budget for the advertising that the bigger haunts have. More money for advertising would be great if we could cut down on the number of actors, however having animated props located in the two largest areas of the haunt, corn and hayride, are a hard thing to accomplish with limited use of power and air in these locations. We do however, try to keep as much of an even mix as possible in these locations.
I would love to hear more on the advertising situation, and how the budgets are acquired to do such, as I setup our own advertising, working with radio, media, etc. myself.
Owner, The Haunted Farm LLC
"Amazing Props?" = Amazing Dumpster-Diving!
Old steel pipe,plastic pipes, rebar, conduit. makesome "bodies" drill holes in the pipe, bolt the pipes together , dress it with old clothes from a dumpster or a "Goodwill" type place, 25cents for a men's suit around here. String it up with 1/16th steel cable, use pulleys or not, make him move, dance, twitch, at the right moment and some will jump and scream, laugh at one another and maybe never forget it!
Showmanship can carry the day (Night too!) Become a storyteller, have one for kids, one for adults, make it more mysterioius and unpredictable instead of stupid/gory, leave some things un-said, implied, leave them a few things to ponder, think about, wonder, worry about.???
You have to reach people. Make an impression.
It takes effort, even practise.
Make them remember you and the haunt and you will reap business that no ad can duplicate as they can't stop talking about it to everyone they know.
You could never make this work if you paid them to do this, impress them and they will be promoting you for free, forever.
When a friend , relative, co-worker comes at us with genuine enthusiasm in their voice , we listen, don't we? We usually remember too.
Last night a Family was here, newbies because a co-worker had told the Father that they "HAD To COME HERE!"
They drove about 90 minutes to get here, to this small village, turned down some tiny, short streets,around a corner to find an 1870 inn with an actual haunted reputation that began at least as long ago as 1925.
This house and grounds are full of things I have made over these last 27 years, goofy stuff, odd, strange, sometimes remarkable. Things not to found anyplace else, most will tell you.
Today I installed my "No Zombie" rocket and launcher into a very tight, small space to make people possibly become somewhat paranoid standing so close to a weapon of mass-destruction, especially if they might be feeling zombie tendantcys...