The haunting paradox, people pay us for entertainment in the form of scaring them, and if we are REALLY successful then we potentially lose them as a future customer.

For example, consider the numbers Howie posted. 56 confirmed "accidental discharges" and another 527 people who purchased tickets and failed to see the entire show. For the sake of easy math, instead of the 56 confirmed accidents, lets pretend that the staff missed a few (easy enough to imagine) and round that number up to 60. Let us further assume (for the sake of arguement) that all 60 will never return, and that 25% of the failures (or 132) were so traunamtized by their experience that they too are now ex-customers.

This gives us a grand total of 192 lost year 2 customers. Let's round that up to 200 to make the math easy. Assuming that the rates above hold, and that each customer spends $12 total, Howie will have lost the following customers and revenue:

Year: ONE
Lost Customers: 200
Total Lost Customers: 200
Revenue Lost: $0

Year: TWO
Existing Lost Customers: 200
New Lost Customers: 200
Total Lost Costumers: 400
Revenue Lost: $2400

Year: THREE
Existing Lost Customers: 400
New Lost Customers: 200
Total Lost Customers: 600
Year Revenue Lost: $4800
Total Revenue Lost: $7200

Year: FOUR
Existing Lost Customers: 600
New Lost Customers: 200
Total Lost Customers: 800
Year Revenue Lost: $7200
Total Revenue Lost: $14,400

Year: FIVE
Existing Lost Customers: 800
New Lost Customers: 200
Total Lost Customers: 1000
Year Revenue Lost: $9600
Total Revenue Lost: $24,000

This Haunt then enters year six knowing up front that they have sacrificed 1000 customers that they MIGHT have had (in a perfect world). Of course, the above generously assumes that these lost customers wont negatively influence anyone else into not attending, but in the real world they do.

This is obviously the big haunt delema. How do you provide an entertaining experience for the majority without overscaring the minority? If you tone it down to the point at which the terrified become calm, then the average person will be bored. But if you don't then you need to rely on a steady influx of new faces that exceeds the number you lose each year.