Finding reliable haunt help can be tough, especially for event creators that have full time jobs aside from managing their haunted attraction. Many dedicated haunt event creators have a difficult time finding people who are as passionate and psyched about scaring as they are. Others lack the budget needed to hire top haunt consultants, set designers, actors, and makeup artists.
How do you provide great experiences for your guests without sacrificing quality or emptying your wallet? The answer is simple, yet often times difficult to put into action.
Ask. There are many benefits of asking for help from family, friends, experts, and even strangers. Asking newbies to orchestrate your entire production is probably a bad idea, but if you manage to pose the right questions to the right people, you’ll be surprised by how much time and money you will save. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks that you can use to master the the art of asking
Ask The ExpertsWhen attending haunt-related conventions or conferences, keep an eye out for companies or organizations that you aspire to emulate. Maybe there’s a haunt group that has a great chemistry that you’d like to see your team embrace. Or maybe, you see sick makeup on a character that you’d like to bring back to your own event.
If you see something you like, go talk to the experts who have invested time, energy, and resources into perfecting their craft. Pick their brain and ask for their advice. Not only will they be flattered by the fact that you love their work, but they may provide you with insight that will save you hours of time and research in the future.
People generally enjoy helping others that are passionate about their area of expertise. Muster up some courage and make an introduction. You never know where it might lead in the future.
Ask The SuperfansIs someone’s house decked out with Halloween decorations every year? Do they make it a point to get the best treats to give the kids in your neighborhood? Maybe they share your passion for creative haunt landscapes and enjoy providing a space for people to share in their love for thrills. They could be a perfect candidate for helping you with your set design or finding cool props. But, you won’t know until you ask.
Strike up a conversation with these people about what motivates them to spend hours decorating their house or perfecting their creepy costumes. If they are interested in helping out with your attraction, it is important to establish whether they will be a paid staff member or a volunteer. If you are on a tight budget, offer to try them out on a trial basis as a volunteer. Let them know that if they provide you with quality work and are an strong asset to your team there is potential for a future paid position. This will take a lot of pressure off both of you. You won’t lose sleep fearing that you’re spending money on a negative asset, and your new crew member won’t feel like he or she is being taken advantage of since there is future potential for full or part-time employment. Be sure to set a deadline (no less than one month) for when you and your friend will have the conversation of whether or not they will be hired officially.
Ask Your FriendsThe same rules apply for a close friend or family member. Maybe you have a friend who is great at running social media. Ask them to create a Twitter account and Facebook page for your event. It will take them five minutes; as opposed to you fumbling around the Internet wondering what a hashtag is for twenty minutes. If you feel uncomfortable asking a friend or family member for help in exchange for nothing in return, offer them some complimentary tickets to your attraction, as well as a few for their friends. You get the help you need without feeling guilty for taking up too much of their time, while getting some new faces in your door to see your horrific creation!
Another key tip to keep in mind comes from HaunTopic’s podcast: 13 Fears of a Haunt Owner: find the best in each person. As haunt producer and director, it is your job to pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. Notice the individuals that make an effort to build rapport with guests and the ones that are more inclined to work backstage. Keep lines of communication open by scheduling monthly meetings with cider and donuts. Ask your new crew how things are going and what aspects of the attraction can be improved. Ask them if they like the tasks they have been assigned so far, as well as what they like and dislike about the production. If the team seems uncomfortable responding, ask them to fill out a short, five-question survey. Often times, your crew will have more input than you might have guessed.
Ask The CommunityKill two zombies with one stone. Gain community acceptance while simultaneously finding talented and enthusiastic help for your scream team. Many students involved with high school theater troupes are dying for ways to get some extra experience or credit hours for school. The beautiful thing about these spry individuals is that they are usually the most energetic and animated, making them perfect actors and actresses for the haunt scene. Reach out to local high schools or theater organizations and arrange an exchange program.
Example: You provide auditions for five characters that will star in your haunted attraction and give credit hours or value experience to the five applicants you choose. Not only can you offer these actors and actresses incredible experience in their field, you can also offer to donate a percentage of your events proceeds to their organization. You don’t need to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Instead, ask if the organization is in need of any supplies or new props and offer to give them a small percentage of your profits to help them achieve their dreams.
You’ll develop a stand up reputation and become an active presence within your community. In addition, people who might not normally seek out haunted houses will respond positively to your generous behavior and will be more inclined to buy tickets to your event.
Befriend your local fire marshal and building inspectors. Invite them to check out your space, get to know them, and ask questions. Asking good questions in the beginning stages of setting up your haunt will save you time and stress in the long run. If you don’t understand a safety code, or aren’t sure how you can remedy a current issue- ASK. Being up front and honest is a better approach than hiding a problem and potentially being forced to shut down. Inspectors want to help you keep your operation safe. If you show them that you hold safety as your number one priority, most will feel much more inclined to help you solve problems instead of looking for reasons to shut you down.