Transworld Haunted House Convention / Tradeshow 2021 Review
The 2021 Transworld Haunted House Convention/Tradeshow is now complete and behind us. Now Transworld looks forward to producing the annual Midwest Haunters Convention June 25, 2021 (learn more details click here)
Watch our Transworld 2021 show floor highlight videos below and subscribe to our youtube page for more updates about the haunted house industry.
Transworld 2021 was not the same show we've seen in the past due to covid related issues. Transworld was forced to cancel the 2020 show, then delay the 2021 show until May, causing a lot of headaches. Despite the event being postponed until May the convention was very successful if for no other reason than it happened. Tradeshows for nearly every industry have either been canceled all together or pushed back until late summer. Moving the haunted house show back any later than May, would have been pointless for the haunted house industry. Haunt owners need months not days to produce their attractions. Vendors need months not days or weeks to fill orders. May was never going to work for either side however just having the show was a first step back. Everything should return to normal in 2022 with Transworld hosting their convention in March 2022.
Transworld deserves a lot of praise for pulling off the show, despite all the challenges. As we predicted here at Hauntworld most vendors wouldn't be able to take a lot of orders and this was the case. Once the show was announced for May opposed to March, buyers took to the phones and placed millions of dollars in orders prior to the show happening. With that being said vendors who hadn't yet filled all of their production schedule filled those schedules by the end of the first or second day of the show. Many buyers were very disappointed when they visited a booth and exhibitors told them they're no longer taking orders for 2021. Transworld moving the show back to March in 2022 should change the dynamic for most haunted attraction owners buying habits, with more orders being placed at Transworld. Transworld also did their best to organize events for buyers such as a vampire magic show, trips to the famous City Museum and a haunted house tour of Six Flags which received mixed reviews. At the end of the day Transworld did their best despite the all the constant road blocks due to covid. Hopefully now covid is behind us.
Covid 19 situation has changed many industries including the haunted attraction industry. So what should you expect from a haunted house convention in 2022?
First lets start with a reality check, haunted attraction owners have been woke! Haunted Attraction owners now realize they can cut their marketing budgets in half thanks to digital marketing. Additionally they can cut their labor costs by almost 50% rethinking how they operate. Haunted attraction owners going forward are cutting their staff by 30 to 40%, and reducing operation days by 15 to 25% thereby cutting down labor overall by a lot! The haunted attraction industry is no longer about being open every day, or having 125 actors, or having the World record longest haunted attraction but simply giving your guests a great experience. As haunted attraction owners learned giving guests a great experience doesn't mean just making them scream, but creating photo opportunities, uncharged attractions, and more. Most haunted attraction owners have branched out to create their own escape rooms, axe throwing and other year around business, leaving their haunts with less attention.
Owning and operating a haunted attraction isn't a hobby its a JOB, and your JOB is to make money, otherwise what started as your HOBBY is now your NIGHTMARE! Wake up people, if you're having FUN operating your HAUNTED HOUSE then YOU are doing something WRONG! Operating haunted houses is hard work, and require a lot of operational skills to keep them safe and fun for your customers.
Transworld on the other hand now faces new challenges. The haunted house industry is NOT growing and neither is the escape room industry. What we've seen from the escape room show is reduction and there is a simple answer... there was too many escape rooms and now many are closed or closing. Furthermore as I predicted the haunted house industry would dive into this industry and basically take it over. Haunt owners brought more theming, animations, special fx, and proved a point that escapes aren't about the puzzles they're about the SHOW! Here is where we're at with conventions/tradeshows... most of the exhibitors know the buyers, and now understand clearly how to sells their goods directly covid forced them to learn direct marketing. I would predict many vendors will cut down booths going into the future, while turning more attention to direct marketing, a skill they honed during the pandemic.
Look at Poison Props, Unit 70 and others they sold OUT 110% without a tradeshow, while other vendors sold out 75 to 80% prior to the 2021 show. These are new realities so I have a few suggestions to keep the show going strong and grow. Originally the convention benefited the vendors more than the buyers, with Transworld finding buyers and bringing them to the vendors. Now its flipped the show is more for the entertainment and education of the buyers than the vendors. All we kept hearing was buyers want the show, buyers want the show to happen they want to get together... while vendors are like wow we're almost sold out. Tradeshows and conventions are now mostly the benefit of the buyers due to vendors knowing their customer base and access for direct marketing.
Buyers should be willing to pay up to $250.00 per person for entry to help offset programs to keep vendors buying more booth spaces. Transworld should raise their prices for entry, thereby creating more revenue to offer venders discounts to keep current booth sizes. Buyers don't need vendors cutting their booths in half, we need vendors to spend all winter making new products, and bring everything including the kitchen sink. In order to make this happen buyers will need to spend a lot more to help offset other costs for vendors benefit. Transworld should also look to add another industry to the mix such as bringing back what's left of Halloween retail or adding a family fun center show (amusement expo). Transworld should take advantage of bringing so many small amusement business owners to one show, by adding an entire new section with a focus on family entertainment. Furthermore Transworld could grow the food/beverage vendors by creating an entire section just for them. The bottom line Transworld SHOULD NOT put their focus on trying to grow the show with haunt vendors, but vendors who would benefit from all the theme parks to small amusement operators who already attend. The haunt vendor side might shrink but there is plenty of room to grow the show for the benefit of all the buyers. We need more insurance companies, digital marketing, business to business services, food and beverage all the way to amusement attractions, games and vending. Look at ticketing, once all the entertainment ticketing companies found out about the industry they flooded the show floor, the same will happen with other digital marketing companies, food service, insurance and everything between. Most haunts must realize you don't grow revenue by buying another monster, its from finding better business to business services. Haunters need to be shown the way especially with seminars and education opportunties.
Can we just be honest for one second, haunt owners are moving away from haunts every day when they venture off opening a bar with axe throwing, escape rooms or even a family entertainment center. Successful haunted house owners are already TELLING this industry... we're looking to start new business which create revenue every single day! Transworld should pounce, they have buyers, now find new industries to fill the space from wall to wall! FOCUS on growing this into a mega amusement show, and please move away from things like Haunters Hangout. Vendors are at your show to MAKE MONEY, not to talk to enthusiasts about how to paint or mold something. Let's focus on real buyers, and making this show a tradeshow not a haunt fan convention, time is better spent growing the show and reaching out to all ends of the amusement industry. This show can make a complete transition from convention to tradeshow if we raise addmission, focus on real buyers needs which is adding more business to business and amusement vendors. Transworld has an opportunity to create a show to rival IAAPA and I hope to see this happen.
In closing let me say once again KUDOS to Transworld for pulling off what seemed impossible but now the real work begins as the landscape has changed. What will happen next no matter what we'll be here to report it! Good luck in 2021.
PS: Sorry we didn't open our haunted houses. We'll reconsider opening in 2021.