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Transworld Haunted House - Escape Room - Christmas Tradeshow 2021 Preview
Thu, April 29, 2021




What:  Transworld Halloween - Haunted House - Christmas Lights - Escape Room tradeshow.

Where:  St Louis Missouri America's Center 

When:  May 6-9, 2021 



What to Expect:  The annual tradeshow will feature hundreds of vendors selling haunted house props, costumes, masks, animations and busines to business services.  Additionally the show has morphed into a Christmas Light and Display tradeshow with a massive section of vendors to help you build a Christmas attraction.  The show also feature a large section dedicated to escape rooms, virtual reality and much more. 
 

Events:  Transworld is offering tons of educational seminars, vampire ball, trips to City Museum and Six Flags.  The Darkness haunted house will not feature a tour in 2021. 



More Details:  You can find more details at www.HaaShow.com 


Watch Promo Video Below 





Health and Safety:   The health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors and staff is of the utmost importance to us. TransWorld is working closely with the America’s Center, Explore St. Louis, and other show partners on multiple health and safety measures. Detailed health and safety plans will be communicated closer to the show. Please review our health and safety page for more details: https://haashow.com/health-and-safety/

  Posted by Larry 10.31 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
How to Become More Successful in 2021 - Escape Rooms and Haunted House
Thu, April 29, 2021


WHAT DID WE LEARN AND WHERE ARE WE HEADED – Haunted House Season 2021


Not every haunted house or escape room will survive covid 19 the season from hell known as 2020. However, the haunted house and escape room industry are about to change forever.  The escape room industry is an easy one to discuss first so let’s dive in.  Somewhere on the internet there is a website tracking escape rooms that have closed the list is LONG!  So, the obvious is yes, many escape rooms closed but for many different reasons.  Let’s analyze.

PART 1 -  ESCAPE ALIVE FROM THE ESCAPE ROOM INDUSTRY

Escape Rooms closed in droves because it was destiny, lets be honest there was way too many.  The same thing happened to the haunted house industry back in the late 1990’s and the same is happening to the escape room industry.  If we’re calling a spade a spade most of the first batch of escape rooms  were not very good.  As I predicted haunted house owners would swarm in like a pack of killer hornets and change the industry.  Haunted House owners understand theming, special effects, and showmanship a lot better than the first wave of escape room owners.  I remember the early days of escape rooms it was all about puzzles and nothing else mattered.  Now escape rooms are about PRODUCTION first and puzzles second this is where the haunt owner is stronger.  At the end of the day the customers only care about having a good time.  Yes, there are some really hard-core escape room players who care but the mass majority of customers care only about the overall experience.

Today we see more reviews from guests talking about the theming, special effects and less about the puzzles.  So, in short, the escape rooms that are surviving are the ones who’ve ramped up the production.  Yes, puzzles are important but not nearly as important as the quality of the experience.  Many escape rooms owners just don’t have the experience, skills or knowledge to do both puzzles and create Hollywood level theming.   Clearly many escape rooms went out of business due to having no customers during the covid shut down.  However, I believe other escape rooms are falling out due to lack of overall quality of the escapes. Escape rooms cost on average $30.00 to play per person and when many don’t have jobs, how many escape rooms do you honestly think they can visit at $30 per person?  How many haunted houses do guests visit every year at $30 per person? I can answer that question about 1.5 per Halloween, which means the overwhelming number of possible visitors will only experience one haunt per year. 
Escape Rooms also lost the ability to have corporate events, single players booking into unfilled games, which slashed revenue but, in the end, there was just too many escapes, and way too many bad ones. In one big tidal wave haunted house owners double the number of escape business within an 18-month period it simply overwhelmed the industry.   Covid or no covid escape rooms are here to stay they’ve proven it but maybe 4 or 5 per market not 20 plus.  So, if you’re still surviving what will put you over the top or keep you business?

Escape Rooms need great word of mouth so customer service is very important as is producing HIGH TECH HOLLYWOOD level theming and special effects.  I can honestly say we don’t have the best puzzle streams but who’s outdoing us on theming and special effects?  Our escape rooms are out pacing every single other escape room in St Louis combined.  What are we doing different?  I can tell you… we’re not thinking along the lines that we’re an escape room facility as much as an entertainment facility.  We’ve added blacklight mini golf which EXPODED … now we have people playing golf and we’re booking them into escape and vice versa.  Furthermore, we added pinball machines and arcades giving guests something to do while they wait for their escape experience.  Everything puts us heads and tails above some 3,000 square foot escape located in a strip center with a small lobby and 4 escape rooms.  I think if you want to be really successful you must think more along the lines as ESCAPE ENTERTAINMENT CENTER. Furthermore, I think its important to rotate and update your escape rooms adding new themes and experiences.  Update your escape rooms adding pre-shows, animation, and improved theming.  Lastly, I think its very important for escape rooms to have great videos, photos to give guests more information when they choose which escape room to visit.  Overload your guests with information and strong visuals.   If you haven’t already figured out digital marketing the key to reach guests, one quick not I would mention facebook is not worth the investment.  People don’t go searching for escape rooms on facebook, they search for them on Google.  Keep that in mind, we do ZERO marketing on Facebook for our escape rooms. 

Hopefully very soon you can re-open your escape rooms, start booking private parties, and opening your rooms up to single players which will really increase revenue.  With all that being said the escape rooms that will survive are the ones which create experiences for your customers.  Due to covid and nothing to do we added THREE new escape rooms and the mini golf… we didn’t throw in the towel we kept investing and now it paying off in spades.  If you believe in what you’re doing, then take chances because in the end no risk no reward. Good luck!  On a side note our escape rooms will be open to the industry during Transworld Escape Room show you can learn more at www.StLouisEscape.com



PART 2 – HAUNTED HOUSES AND THE FUTURE OF HAUNTING

I’ve been making people SCREAM for 32 years but who’s counting.  Every single year I think I have it all figured out then Y2K happens, or 911, but Covid never saw that coming.  Every haunted house got thrown into a panic as the Transworld show cancelled, vendors didn’t know what to do, haunters not knowing if they could open, simply put a mess.  Vendors struggled but survived and many haunts pulled the parachute on the season long before even a single leaf fall to the ground.  The haunt season looked BLEAK but guess what… haunts that opened got overwhelmed with business.  Why?  Very simple most everything that people do normally like NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, College Football to amusement parks, bowling and everything between didn’t allow people in the door.  People were starved to do something anything and visit haunted houses they did in droves. With strong demand came a lot of problems, such as a lot of violence, unruly customers, fighting, shootings, it was a complete nightmare.  In one weekend we saw 4 or 5 shootings across the industry on the same day along with one being fatal.   At my haunted house we saw the same however we took action beefing up security, working with the local police, closing early and more.
I predicted from the start you couldn’t follow covid rules not for a haunted house, you would create wait times so long you’d create worse problems.  There was only one way to get control of your haunt you had to get people into the door faster… the longer people waited the more problems you had.  Yes, we took many covid precautions and even got a lot of compliments from our city officials and guests.  We did things we never did before like offer washing stations, hand sanitizer, required face masks, but keeping people 6 feet apart inside a haunted house that was NEVER going to happen.  I believe haunted houses across the country did the very best they could to keep their guests and staff safe while trying their best to stay in business.   If you’re going to operate a successful haunted house you must operate a SAFE haunted house which means good security.   I know a lot of haunts dealt with customers who just acted like idiots… best way to deal with this now and into the future is by NOT keeping them at your facility waiting in line for hours. 

At our haunts we’ve changed EVERYTHING and for good!  We’re closing at 11:45 pm, we’re stopping all ticket sales at 11:30, and we’re moving them into and thru the haunted house faster than ever!  Not only are we moving them thru the haunted house fast but we’ve also cut actors by 35%.  But how do you keep up the quality of the show you might ask?  Your first thought is to buy a bunch of animations but WRONG… animations break just like actors get tired.  We focused on creating all scareboxes to access more areas of the haunted house so one actor can do the work of 2 or 3 actors.  Furthermore, rather than adding tons of really expensive animations, we added 20 air cannons to Darkness and 30 to Creepyworld.  Air cannons are the best animation money can buy and they’re the cheapest!  Air cannons added a lot of screams and they almost NEVER break!  Furthermore, we made all of our haunted house’s SHORTER… at Darkness we sold and removed the Hive which required 18 actors.  In replacement of the Hive we built a mini golf and TWO more escape rooms that make 5 times more money than the secondary haunt while also requiring virtually no labor.  At Creepyworld we removed two whole entire haunted houses and in 2021 we removed yet another haunt from the show. 
 
Now you might be asking if our customers are happy about shortening the haunted experience.   We actually got the best reviews ever by decreasing the length of the haunt, you also decrease the perception of how many actors you should or shouldn’t have.  The biggest complaint is you don’t have enough actors, but when you shorten your show to accommodate the actual number of good actors you can employ you also improve the overall experience.  Then when you create scareboxes that can access multiple zones of the haunt you create the perception of having twice as many live actors as before. 
 
Today its not about how long the haunted house is but the experience of the overall attractions.  At Creepyworld we’re replacing a haunted house with a video mapping attraction which requires NO actors and could end up being the most talked about and shared experience on social media.  I would call that a win win!  We want people sharing EXPERIENCES at our attractions because its not about SCREAMS it’s about giving your guests an amazing experience.   I can promise you Creepyworld with fewer actors, fewer haunts, will get the best reviews we’ve ever had and it took 32 years to figure this out.   The Darkness now has the most amazing gift store, arcade and museum with TONS of photo ops!  The last impression is the best one for guests as they snap photos, buy t-shirts, and leave happy!  

We’ve also gone heavy with special events, in 2020/21 we’ve DOUBLED our attendance for Krampus, Valentines and Scream Break attracting nearly 5,000 guests.  Unlike many haunts around the country we attracted 5000 paying guests with ONE NIGHT ONLY events rather than opening for an entire weekend or across multiple weekends.  This brings me to my next point, why are you open so many nights during the season.    Why spend the money, wear and tear if the guests will come across fewer nights?  We did MORE guests in 2020 than we did in 2019 across fewer nights, and fewer hours, with less marketing dollars, and the lowest number of actors ever! 

The future of the haunted house industry is simple… open fewer nights, sell your tickets online where you can collect taxes, ticketing fees and collect your guests’ data for digital marketing.   With digital marketing you can TARGET your customers reducing costs by 50 to 75%.  Traditional media is over, no TV, no radio, and even billboard didn’t buy a single one. Why would we?    We attracted 2000 guests to Bloody Valentines one night only event with about $3000 in digital marketing by simply targeting the people who are more likely to buy a ticket.  Next Halloween our goal will be to reduce the cost per customer to $1.50 by simply targeting the most likely customer, rather than a broad approach. Couple reducing marketing,  with reducing labor by creating scarezones for actors to work multiple angles, hiring just the best actors, adding tons of air cannons and lastly reducing the size of the haunted experience.  With the space you remove from the haunt you add 5 minute escape rooms, zombie paintball, gift stores, pumpkin displays, photo opportunities all of which either increase revenue or guests experience.  




PART 3:  Conclusion and the  EXIT

What is a typical haunted house?  I can tell you… wait in a long line, finally you get in actors jump around and scream at guests, then they exit the last scene and boom they’re back on the street heading to their car.  Isn’t that kind of anti-climactic?  Today’s haunted house should look to reduce the size of the haunt and create space for a new ending one that doesn’t scare anyone but one that leaves the guests with the last chance to take pictures, do something or buy something!!!  Minimum wages are going up no longer can haunts afford 150 actors, you must get down to 40 or 50 or 65 actors.  There is an old saying more/bigger isn’t always better and in the case of the haunted house industry its dead on the money.   At the end of the day today’s customers want a FUN experience, a SAFE experience, and finally the opportunity to experience cool stuff, take pictures look around in a gift store, or shoot some zombies with a paintball gun.  Remember everything now escape or haunts is about the EXPERPEINCE not the puzzles not the screams but the overall EXPERIENCE. 

After you visit the Transworld show in 2021 and then get back to your haunts remember this observation.  We created a small Jack o Lantern display at the exit of Creepyworld where I noticed everyone crowding around taking photos.  I realized upon witnessing thousands of people stopping just to snap the photos with carved pumpkins that people want opportunities to celebrate Halloween, then share them with their friends and family.   In response Creepyworld will now have a MASSIVE PUMPKIN BARN as the exit, with 4 times as many carved pumpkins, and hopefully many more thrilled customers.  Haunts are no longer about the SCREAMS they should be about the ULTIMATE HALLOWEEN EXPERIENCES.  Many will buy seminar after seminar at haunted house tradeshows, or watch youtube videos, or read comments on facebook about how to grow your attendance and most of them will be wrong.  There is no need for you to waste two seconds of your time or money just read this next sentence…  GROW YOUR ATTENDANCE by focusing on creating the ULTIMATE HALLOWEEN EXPERIENCE! Create an EXIT strategy for your haunted house giving your guests the opportunity to capture HALLOWEEN on their phone then share it with all their friends.  Create the conclusion to your haunted house with photo opportunities centered around a massive gift store, selling multiple versions of t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, masks, and everything you can put your logo on.  Create 5 minute escape rooms, zombie paintball arena, anything that gives your guests another chance to create memories which can be shared.  

Going forward target your audience and save marketing costs.  Cut actors, hire the best ones, give those actors better options to scare MORE people by opening up access points.  Add air cannons, tons of photo opportunities, buy a big monsters instead of putting in the haunt put them at the exit!  The future has to be cutting costs, reducing operation days, reducing marketing, while at the same time INCREASING revenue and customers experience.  Bigger isn’t better, scariest is no longer the bat signal but overall customer experience, where you create HALLOWEEN memories for HALLOWEEN fans!     

Good luck in 2021 and Happy Hauntings
Larry Kirchner

PS:  There is another Hauntworld Magazine on the way just after Transworld. Stay Tuned. 
  Posted by Larry 9.44 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Transworld Haunted House and Escape Room Tradeshow Coming May 6-9
Thu, April 01, 2021


Transworld Halloween Haunt and Escape Tradeshow is finally happening after more than a year of waiting.  Due to Covid the 2020 annual tradeshow was canceled which sent an entire industry into a spiral.  Many haunted houses and escape rooms closed their doors forever, while most powered thru and are ready for the annual tradeshow to return.  The tradeshow was originally scheduled for early March 2021 but due to ongoing covid restrictions it was pushed back until May 6-9, 2021 in St Louis Missouri.   You can get more details at www.HAASHOW.com 



So what should you expect at the 2021 tradeshow?  Most vendors will still exhibit because their 2020 money was rolled over to 2021.  Some vendors however will not exhibit despite losing deposits like Unit 70.  Some vendors are choosing not to exhibit because they're already totally sold out and can't take anymore orders for 2021. A tradeshow for the haunted house industry in May is basically only worth about 25% of its original value.  About 25% of all vendors orders come between November and January  taking advantage or winter sales.  Another 50% of orders are placed right around the Transworld show and the balance about 25% are placed through out the summer months.  Once Transworld announced the show was moving to May buyers started placing orders and now most vendors are nearly sold out.  Our guess is most vendors have about 25% or less capacity for new orders!  Our advice DO NOT wait until the Transworld Show call your favorite vendors and BUY NOW otherwise you may not get the opportunity to order. 

We also do NOT expect you can buy as many products off the show floor as vendors are bringing products already sold and using Transworld for pick up!  AGAIN ORDER NOW!   Most vendors we've spoken to have stated  they're already SOLD OUT for 2021 or taking orders for late Summer early September.  If you wait for Transworld show which is another full month away you might be disappointed.  

A tradeshow in May doesn't work for the haunted house industry but Transworld had no choice it was May or nothing.  The haunted house industry wants to get together, and try to get back on a path of normalcy.  Vendors need the bulk of orders to be placed long before May and haunt owners know better than to wait until May.  Even though many vendors will have limited capacity to take orders at this years show, there is still plenty of reasons to attend.  All the seminars and educations opportunities are still available with very few changes from what you signed up for in 2020.  The communication with other haunters is invaluable, and honestly walking the tradeshow gives you creative energy to take back to your business.  Transworld should be back on track in 2022 with dates in early March and hopefully by this Halloween season there are no more covid related issues.  We do however want to stress that many vendors if not most will still have some product on the show floor to sell, or ability to take some orders but do NOT take that chance... ORDER NOW.   



Escape rooms have been drastically impacted by covid, losing corporate parties, single bookings into unsold games, and having to close for a period.  Many haunted houses made the early call NOT to open for 2020 Halloween fearing a lack of interest, which turned out to be the exact opposite.  Haunted Houses that opened got overwhelming demand for customers.  No word yet if all the Christmas vendors will return because no tradeshow floor map has been updated to Transworld website.  With that being said the Christmas industry had a RECORD YEAR... keep in mind people were looking for something to do and most Christmas shows are drive thru! 

Overall i believe the show despite every curve ball thrown in its direction,will be overwhelming successfull. You should attend the show and absorb some of that creative energy, talk to vendors, place some orders, take in some education and feel great about the future!  Owning and operating Christmas, Escape or haunted house attractions is a passion based industry and the passion is there to be together surrounded by what makes them motivated to get back to work.  Even though I'm strongly advicing you to PLACE ORDERS NOW, the show floor will be FLUSH with products to see, touch and experience.  This coming Transworld show is for the now and the future of getting all these industries back on track!  Support Transworld and support the vendors! 

Despite all the hurdles the show will be a success just because it happened.  Have fun and have a great time. 

We will not be doing behind the scenes tours of our escape rooms in 2021 however they're open for bookings at  www.StLouisEscape.com 

A word of warning if you don't book NOW, our escape rooms are basically sold out just from local business every single weekend.  Since last Transworld St Louis Escape has added Frankenstein Escape, Dracula Escape, and Wonderful Wizard of Oz plus a blacklight mini golf and arcade.  Book today! 



As for haunted house tours, we initially thought about opening Creepyworld and started overhauling it the minute we closed for the 2020 Halloween season.  We have already spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to get Creepyworld ready for Transworld but over the winter temp dropped below zero and stopped us cold.  We continue to work on Creepyworld building a new pumpkin barn, funeral home haunted house, and a video mapping attraction.  Its not likely that we could get Creepyworld done in time for Transworld,  even though we're currently working on it everyday.  As we speak we have 4 to 6 people working on Creepyworld every single day.  If something changes we'll let you know.  We decided not to attempt opening Lemp because we didn't even open Lemp for the Halloween season.  Lemp is located inside a cave and needs a lot of cleaning and repair we just didn't have time.  As for The Darkness we renovated the Darkness as if we would open for Transworld and just completed the total 2021 renovation in time for a local special event called Scream Break.  We added several new scenes including a haunted conservatory, haunted pumpkin barn, new gift store, thousands dollars in upgrades, this on top of overthink we did leading up to 2020 Transworld. 

The Darkness can open however we have yet to decide if we want to attempt opening for Transworld 2021.  If something changes it would be very last minute.  If any tour is added it will be a behind the scenes tour only.  

Again have a great time at Transworld 2021! 

PS:  If you see Rich and Jen walking around the Tradeshow floor give them a HUGE THANK YOU!  Trying to get this show back on track has been an overwhelming acheivement.  Thank you Jen and Rich from Hauntworld! 


 
  Posted by Larry 8.52 PM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Transworld Haunted House / Escape Room Tradeshow Changes Dates
Tue, December 29, 2020
NOTICE FROM TRANSWORLD about new dates Haunted House Tradeshow 2021.

 

Hello everyone-

It's hard to believe during these challenging times that the holiday season is here already! As we all scramble to come up with creative ways to safely celebrate with family and friends, we want to update you on the status of our 2021 show. Due to the spike in numbers regarding COVID-19 we have made the difficult decision to push back our show dates from March to May. Our new dates are May 6-9, 2021.

Please know that TransWorld is very committed to producing the best show we can in 2021. To deliver on that promise, we are working hard to run the show in accordance with the current COVID guidelines from the CDC, the State of Missouri, the City of St. Louis, America's Center, and our hotel and vendor partners. Guidelines may change and we recommend that you frequently review the "Health and Safety" page on our sites for updates. The health and safety of our exhibitors, buyers and staff is of the utmost importance to us.

We understand that this has been a very frustrating process for everyone. We truly appreciate everyone's support for our shows in such uncertain times. We are looking forward to seeing all of you in St. Louis May 6-9, 2021 for an exciting event that will bring you products, seminars and networking opportunities to jump start your business for the 2021 season!

Regarding booked hotel rooms:

We are currently working with the hotels on a smooth transition of room reservations. It will take a few weeks for the reservations departments to move the reservations as well as send emails to you, if appropriate. In addition, it will take the hotels a few weeks to send TransWorld updated information for our travel page (new deposit dates, cut off date, booking links, etc.) Please give the hotels a few weeks to implement the changes in your reservations as outlined below.

All current hotel reservations for the 2021 March show dates will either be rebooked or rolled over to the new May 2021 dates by the hotels. Hotel procedures differ at each property. If your hotel reservation has been cancelled and rebooked you will receive a new confirmation number via email. If your reservation has been rolled over, you may not receive a new confirmation number. If you have any questions please contact the hotel directly.

Please review the list below to determine whether your reservation is being rebooked or rolled over.

Hotels Hotels that will roll over your reservations for you:

  • Holiday Inn
  • Courtyard
  • Hampton Inn
  • Magnolia
  • Lumiere
  • Hotel St. Louis

Hotels Hotels that will rebook your reservations for you

  • Marriott
  • Four Seasons (or they will call you)
  • Embassy Suites
  • DoubleTree

Hotels: Hotels that will either rebook or roll over your reservations for you.

  • Drury Arch
  • Drury Convention Center

If you need to make a change to your reservation or cancel it entirely, please contact the hotel directly. Hotel information can be found at https://haashow.com/travel/hotels/

We wish you the happiest of holidays and we look forward to seeing you in St. Louis in May, 2021! As always, please feel free to call us with any questions you may have,

Warmest regards,

The TranWorld Team


For information about TransWorld's shows visit

www.TransWorldTradeShows.com

  Posted by Larry 8.01 PM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Terror Behind the Walls Closed for 2020 - What does this mean for the Haunt Industry
Thu, June 18, 2020

Terror Behind the Walls CLOSED for 2020 haunted house season!  What does this mean for the haunted house industry? 



First lets read the statement by Terror Behind the Walls today on their facebook page: 

'We have some sad news to share. The financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced us to suspend Terror Behind the Walls for 2020.
Preparations for TBTW were underway for months, but we ultimately determined that modifying the attraction to comply with anticipated COVID-19 guidelines would have presented significant operational challenges and financial risk to Eastern State.
Instead, Eastern State will offer smaller-scale evening tours of the penitentiary this fall. More details to come.
It’s a sad day at Terror Behind the Walls. We hope to share some good news with you soon
.' 
 

Terror Behind the Walls is one of the biggest if not the biggest haunted house events in America attracting over 100,000 guests to their haunt each year.  I'm sure they didn't make this decision quickly.  We're talking about up to 4 million dollars down the drain with one post on facebook all I can say is WOW!   TBTW is based in downtown Philly which is a very liberal city, with liberal mayors and rules just like Chicago or LA. I think it's fair to say that cities with liberal mayors are taking a more strict approach to re-opening business while republican led area's are wanting business to re-open more quickly.  Not saying one is right and the other is wrong but knowing the rules are going to be very strict could have played a huge factor here.  On the flip side most of PA is very RED especially in these farming communities those haunts should have less to worry about when it comes to opening.  The staff of TBTW may have come to the conclusion based on their statement about financial harm, that spending well north of a million dollars to produce the event might backfire if the city does another shutdown.   How would you like to be caught just ramping up and boom you shut down again with the type of financial investment they must make each year.  TBTW also mentions they laid off 40% of their staff, possible they don't have the man power to pull it off.  Or maybe they're making this decision based on risk verse reward.  Let me explain. 

The reward could be attendance down by 50% maybe you net around 1 million dollars, whereas the risk is you spend all that money to produce the show and you can't open losing 1 million dollars.  In other words its a flip of the coin, and considering they have other revenue streams such as tours of the facility why risk it.  Furthermore they might be concerned about potential lawsuits from large gatherings or the restrictions the city would place on them make it totally impossible to operate.  Should the haunted house industry be alarmed or shaken to the core by this announcement?  NO!  Why?  Well because TBTW is not a private business like the mass majority of haunts across the country.  If any haunted attraction event was going to close or skip 2020 I would have predicted a haunt like TBTW, Theme Parks or Charity based haunts.  I would also expect to see several theme parks cancel Halloween and maybe every charity based event cancelled. 

With the way the media is acting right now (out to get everyone it seems) how much positive PR could come to your event this year?  Remember this is an election year and the media is HELL BENT on getting rid of Donald Trump.  I would expect October to be a WARZONE ACROSS Media outlets trying to further divide the country, predicting bleak outlooks on business, employment, etc.  People might not have jobs, money, or motivation to do anything in October.   The media is depressing people how much can we all take?  Or maybe and hopefully for us people need some escape from reality.  I sure hope so its possible.  By the end of September how many cities, and states can afford keeping business shut down?  These unemployment bonus checks END in a couple weeks will that motivate cities even liberal ones to get business back in action?  I would hope so!  I do think we're going to open as an industry because we simply can't continue to function as a country under these conditions.  Getting back to haunting let's consider most professional for profit haunted houses are very small business's with no other options for revenue.  Not opening would send Shockwaves across this industry. 


If the mass majority of haunts didn't open or if they opened and retained less than half  of their customers what would happen to the industry as we know it?

Let me make some predictions: 

1)  Transworld:  I would strongly consider cancelling the 2021 show.  Why?  That is easy no one would spend a dime, vendors would know up front haunt owners have no money and probably would go out of business.  How could haunt vendors survive two seasons in a row of virtually no revenue?  They couldn't.  Right now we're asking vendors to hang in there, fight until next March.  But if the writing is on the wall that haunted houses are losing their shirts, what would they do next?  Would they spend tens of thousands of dollars to attend a tradeshow half full with buyers just looking and no spending?  Please!   IAAPA has already cancelled their second hall, and said they will be way down on exhibitors and buyers in 2020.   Wouldn't the same apply to Transworld?   Maybe there would be a show but it would be right back where it started about 10 rows and thats it.   The industry needs to be successful in 2020 for everyone's sake especially the vendors.  Vendors need a sign of hope to make another run and we as an industry can't let them or Transworld down. 



2)  Vendors:  As stated above you can pretty much write off over 50% of every vendor we know and love as gone!  Some might end up working in theme parks, finding jobs with production companies outside the industry, or just finding a new line of work.  There is NO WAY IN HELL vendors survive another year like this one just simply NO WAY!  Even if they could survive after firing virtually their entire staff what kind of product could they produce on a mass scale?  Therefore there is no more Transworld no more haunted house tradeshows.  GONE!   Yes some haunts would survive this especially theme parks who produce massive events, therefore some vendors would make it but not enough for a full blown tradeshow. 

3)   Haunted Attractions:  The industry would finally come FULL CIRCLE and be back to where it all started charity based events with theme parks running the for profit side.  Yes some haunts will FIND A WAY to borrow money to survive 10 months and try to open the following year.  However the damage would be so overwhelming that only the haunts who own their property, debt free and access to borrowing could make it.  Very sad but very true. I also feel many haunted house owners would just give up on the industry and try something else like axe throwing, escape rooms, some social attraction or maybe they would find employment with a theme park.  Many haunt owners are already doing side attractions and finding its more profitable with less stress than haunting.  The industry as we know it right now is walking the tight rope. 

So what do we do?  For one I just read an article IAAPA published with so called industry experts talking about using mirrors, sound fx,  eliminating chainsaws (HUH) (Don't people run from those?)  stopping insensitive themes (since when have haunts been worried about that considering we have bloody bodies everywhere) these so called industry experts laid an egg in this interview.  We shouldn't be talking about what we SHOULDN'T DO ... we should be talking about what we're GOING TO DO!  IF WE OPEN WE PLAN ON MAKING PEOPLE SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN!  PERIOD! 



Furthermore we can't have people with virtually nothing to lose, or very little experience talking to the media on behalf of our industry.  The most experienced vets with positive talking points need to do the talking for EVERYONE!   We need every haunt who's called about these issues  refer those reporters to people like myself, or Chris Stafford who has a lot to lose by a negative story.  This is the time for the real industry leaders to STEP UP and take charge.   We can't afford another story from YAHOO who spins the IAAPA story into some NO SCREAMING in 2020 article READ HERE.  We simply can't afford people talking on behalf of an entire industry who doesn't own a haunted house, saying things like 'chainsaws must be eliminated' or suggesting we use 'mirrors' to scare.  Let me explain something here... how about you tell everyone in the theme park the roller coaster is open, we put them in the seat, fasten them inside, then show them a video of what the ride would have been like had had we launched the coaster.  Suggesting we eliminate chainsaws, use mirrors, or change  themes to not offend anyone... WHAT IS THIS GUY TALKING ABOUT?  Why do people come to a haunted house HELLO?  TO GET SCARED so if you are advocating toning down that experience due to COVID then just CLOSE because if we can't deliver what guests are paying for what are we doing?  I'm not eliminating a chainsaw something people RUN FROM not kiss on the lips ... last a checked RUNNING from someone with a chainsaw wouldn't that be a good social distance tool?  OMG what a moronic statement.  

Why play defense we need to play offense.  We need a sensible plan that works for all haunts, which would include warning signs posted everywhere including your website, suggesting all guests wear masks, temp checks on your staff, washing stations, and then just roll like its 2019!   There are other things we can do like eliminating squeeze walls, or eliminating 'ROAMER' actors, making sure no 3D glasses are re-used, station every single actor in a scarezone/scarebox, etc.   We can make sure actors wear the same costume, same mask, reducing staff,  blah, blah.  In other words we can come up with a sensible plan but closing your haunt is not good for your business or the industry as a whole. We could even airbrush masks for our actors so they look like masks WOW who would have thought... no just  eliminate chainsaws says one so called industry expert.  Please!  

Here is the bottom line we as an industry need a plan a plan that works for everyone.  We need to come together and create this plan and we can't do it on facebook.  Facebook haunt industry groups are overrun with people who do NOT OWN HAUNTED HOUSES!  PERIOD!  I got ripped on by some of these people for producing a video to help haunt owners make more money.  WHAT?  How do these industry know it alls think they get paid?  C'mon I have no time to listen to that non-sense.  Do you want our new video its awesome and it will HELP YOUR BUSINESS BIG TIME... CLICK HERE 

We can discuss idea's on Hauntworld Forums CLICK HERE, we can narrow down a group of industry leaders to have ZOOM meetings, and we can come out with an OFFENSIVE game plan to score SCREAMS!  We can work together, and we can accomplish anything if we work as a team.   Don't be afraid to buy from a vendor, open your haunt, and GIVE THEM HELL without fear of offending someone with your scary doctors, bloody hospitals, or any theme you choose.  WE NEED TO PLAY OFFENSE HERE AND GO FOR IT... tell your costumers you're going to give them the scares of a lifetime.  Tell your customers yeah no basketball, no baseball, but there will be SCREAMING in 2020!  The haunt industry is here to entertain safely!   

Do we need to cut spending, staffing, marketing and do we need to enact some safety protocols?  YES!  Do we need to close down?  NO WAY! 

I will start a thread on Hauntworld and open up the discussion for THE PLAN to open this season.  I hope you participate! If you do not have a forum user name and password create one let me know and we'll approve it asap!   

I'm looking forward to the discussion we still have several weeks to get it done!  Lastly, I wish the staff of Terror Behind the Walls a SCARY RETURN in 2021!  We will miss you guys in 2020 but the haunting must go on!  We need to save Halloween, Our business, Vendors and Transworld who's done everything you can imagine to grow our industry.  

Happy Haunting. 


 

  Posted by Larry 7.45 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
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