How many people did you get with 5-6k sqft for $13
Ok, so we lost our two year, all indoor, location last January and now my haunt lives as a giant tightly packed cube. Sale attempts have met with limited success but truth be known, they were half hearted attempts at best. So I have enough stuff to put together a decent 5000-6000 sf show. I have a two year track record tied to the name with repeat customers. I have a connection and support in the community and a good relation with the building and fire departments. I have a crew of anxious volunteers hoping the show will go on.
I have had a few outdoor location options. They are all temporary and have all the headaches that go with that kind of set up. Quite frankly, the thought of the set up, run show, tear down is more than I can deal with. We were heavily themed and detailed and even if much of that is lost on many, it is a source of pleasure and pride for me.
So now I find myself with an oportunity for a location that will allow a 2500-3000 show (thats themed show space). It will allow for long term occupancy. As, always there are a few city issues to get past, but nothing overwhelming. The parking will be an issue, but the visiblity is great.
So my question is what does a small successful haunt look like. How do you optimize for highest net. Previously we were $13 and entertained for 25-30 minutes. Do you just run the same program, just smaller and halve the price. Do you focus on more detailed and complex, but slower. If people will pay $5 to lay in a coffin and get bounced around for 3 minutes, then there must be some form that can take advantage of the small full sensory experience.
Any thoughts, ideas or references to other small scale successful operations would be appriciated.
How many people did you get with 5-6k sqft for $13
Cheaper ticket prices do not make more people come. They give off the impression that it must not be very much or the owners think it sucks so it much suck and it isn't worth the gas money to go there or worth the extra burst of energy required to go and do something.
2500 to 3,000 SF can be very nice, you simply install smaller more detailed rooms, with as many as 20 little things going on and attempt to have something or an actor every 12 linear foot or so. No long hallways headed to somewhere where nothing is happening. As many as 45 actors or one guy with 45 different masks. It can still be considered to be quite something. I wouldn't go below $10 a person. It simply takes people so long to react to so many well developed things that it might take half an hour to get through and you have not stopped the groups to give a little skit or anything like that. If you actually walk through at a normal pace with no interaction might only take 2.5 minutes.
You are saying parking is an issue? That will prove to be the limitation of how many you can have show up. You have to have people there so long and have enough parking for them to do the thing and be able to leave. I have driven back out of places and never got out of the car if I see cars 3 deep like you will come out and be blocked in until midnight or if there is a line that goes with that confusion.
A small haunt does not support other things outdoors well. People believe they have come and done what they came to do and want to leave.
Greg - good insight as always. The one guy who told me what to expect the first year based on the circumstances and you were right on. The price drop was simply a thought based on an expected drop in entertainment time. One room at this show for much additional outside stuff. This is going to take some thought on how to squeeze everything out of the space.
Parking will have to be negotiated eill owner of one of the adjacent lots, There are a lot of options, just something that is not a done deal. I had to provide additional parking last year for the last weekend as the lines got over an hour.
You also mentioned detail. That is the answer as well. No matter how physically fast people go through or how you time them by a stop watch, there is a certain totally satisfying amount of stuff scanned by the eye and brain that is tough to detect but, if it is there all customers will be satisfied. As an over view you are comparing it to something but, I pretty much have 6,000 Sf worth of content jammed into 3,000 SF but I started out that way as my own judgement with haunts I had seen.
On tours and as a customer you go though and inventory what is there, getting interupted by the characters and each interaction takes away a bit of energy. At some point it gets to be too much to absorb and becomes abuse to the customer. At that point you are beyond the level of being entertaining and satisfying. A smaller haunt actually does just that. You end up retaining a much higher percentage of year to year customers. The customers aren't torn down and they don't tear down the actors as much, the actors come back more years. The build up and tear down is still lots of work but manageable and detailing is actually something possible to achieve to a higher standard. So everyone is happy.
I used triangular grids but they are a pain to get inspected and approved in lots of locations. The general sizing though can carry through where no room is larger than 8 foot by 12 foot, Hallways may wrap around but they are planned scare zones and equally detailed. Another thing that would make it better is not having any guides, where people can determine their own pace to see the detail or go as quick as they want. Each group of actors instead is guiding the momentum. The group I worked with couldn't lose the power trip of guiding groups. That seriously slows a normal flow of customers as the same people have walked the thing so many times that they are delerious. I just thought if they wanted to beat themselves up like that so what.
With detail groups may actually pass other groups as some really view everything at the pace of a museum and others have a mind to inventory super quick like walking the length of a Walmart and spotting inventory for future reference. In either case you have hooked people to see changes from year to year like it is their job to come do that and give you $10.
Throw in a couple rooms that are 12 by 12 by 12 triangles that warp the perception of where you might be in the building or have a wrap around and a sense of security and not knowing how much longer it is going to be inside arises.
I have been through too many 6,000 SF haunts and my complaint was rooms that were 12 by 18 with one thin or one person in there. Hallways going to the next one thing that seemed to be 30 feet long with nothing. It does take more to design but the overhead and the customer satisfaction is higher. The spread out ones seemed to me like we have an old kmart building and we have to fill it with something. It somehow misses the point of being too much like a tour of boring hotel rooms or something. Oh, this is the one where the cleaning people keep all their crap. Or oh, what a collection of plywood they have, I could see that at Lowes for free. In that case lower price is maybe satisfying.
Or there is the reverse where for $20 you get to see 100,000 worth of plywood haunt. For $20 I should have a piece of plywood roped to the roof of the car to take home.
Super detail, tight design, lots of actors, something happening everywhere is where it is at.
I usually do have a large scene about 24 by 16 in the middle which super reinforces once again how tight the second half of the haunt is. It doubles as a central corridor that is detailed instead of some hallway no one but actors and construction workers go.
So my question is what does a small successful haunt look like.
Iconic characters, detailed sets, great back story. The experience for the guest should feel more personal and more time should be spent on them by the actors. You need to make fudge. Big haunts are like Cake- people love cake they want a big slice of cake and a cold glasss of milk. You dont have room to be a big peice of cake so you need to switch gears to a small but satisfying piece of fudge. The difference is richness- Richness in a haunt setting is detail and violence. No one wants a cake sized piece of fudge, its to rich to eat it all it will make you sick. To much violence and detail and the audience goes numb...but in a smaller space pack it in because their exposure is time based- there is a limit to how long they must endure the rich enviornment.
How do you optimize for highest net.
The answer for this is faster throughput, I have worked very small haunts that used "story" rooms. Group A goes into the haunt and group B goes in 1 min after. A gets ushered into a story room where an actor adds detail to the enviornment and that lasts two minutes, meanwhile group B was ushered into an Identical room and the same story gets told to them. The rooms are staggered and lets guests get a longer show with out the groups being on top of each other. Universal did a similar thing where they had two paths through the same show. That was also for speed and efficiency.
Some times you want both and you go for Zingers.
I am a little confused on triangular grids. Are you talking about using that angle maze pattern for the entire event? So no two walls are actually straight? Someone had a nice little app to help you lay those mazes out. But that makes for a very cool idea that could lead to some interesting things. You could really scare the hell out of people by giving them a lit straight hall and then startling the carp out of them. Since you would own their spatial comfort.
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