Don’t open your doors until you’ve checked everything off this list
Haunt Season will be here before you know it. Between the props, electronics, costumes, scheduling your scareactors, and training the team, it probably feels like there are a million things that still need to get done before you swing open the doors and let your first victims enter. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made things even more complicated this year: you’ve got social distancing, extra cleaning, and health precautions to consider on top of your normal duties.
Are you ready?
Here’s a handy checklist to help you make sure you’ve got all your bases covered for Haunt Season. Continue reading or click here to download the checklist at the bottom of this page.
Make sure your attractions are in working order and follow social distancing guidelines. Don’t forget to train your staff on the new protocols, too.
Test your equipment
A dead battery has ruined many a haunt owner’s opening nights. Don’t assume that last year’s equipment is still functioning perfectly after a year in storage: pull those walkies, flashlights, scanners, payment terminals, voiceboxes, and other small electronics out of the box and make sure everything is working well before the season begins. It will save you from unpleasant surprises and last-minute hunts for replacements once your doors open.
Prepare for social distancing
We’ve got a whole guide to reopening your haunt during COVID-19, so be sure to check that out as you’re getting ready for the season.
Need ideas for incorporating social distancing into your haunt? Check out our blog post on Social Distance Scaring. You’ll find tips on how to:
- Promote physical distancing with special effects
- Place props to minimize contact with guests
- Create costumes that double as PPE
- Adapt storylines and which themes to avoid
Secure your staffing
Make sure you have enough staff to cover all positions in your haunt. It’s important to do this early, especially this year; some staff may feel uneasy about returning to work or have an immunocompromisation that prevents them from working in your haunt.
Train your staff on new COVID-19 protocols. Run through a dress rehearsal with your team to test out any new social distancing measures, props, or other elements.
Don’t forget to set up payroll or other compensation methods before the season begins. Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of your team.
Ticketing and Queuing
The sooner you set up your ticketing, the sooner you can start selling (and earning revenue!).
Set up your ticketing
Setting up online ticketing today means your guests can buy tickets now for a Haunt Season visit. This helps with cash flow, so you’re not struggling to make that final vendor payment before you open or for that first payroll of the season.
If you’re using HauntPay, this is an easy step because our team will help take care of this for you. Don’t wait until the last minute to set up your ticketing and payments for the season.
Another good reason to start selling tickets now is to help you plan staffing and volunteer schedules for the season. If you know in advance which nights are selling out and which ones are going to be lighter on crowds, you can staff up or down as needed.
Need help setting up ticketing this year? Schedule an onboarding call with our support team. We’ll walk you through it, or set everything up for you at no cost.
Set up virtual queues
Virtual Queues are a necessity during this period of social distancing. They give you more control to manage the crowd flow at your event and help you maximize the (reduced) capacity of your venue without putting your staff or your guests at risk.
Here’s how Virtual Queues work, in a nutshell:
- When guests arrive at your event or venue, they’ll be “checked in” to your Virtual Queue.
- You determine how many guests you want to allow to enter your venue at a time.
- Guests are notified via SMS text when it’s their turn to enter. As they enter, you check them off the virtual queue, allowing the next group of virtual queuers to be notified.
Set up timed ticketing
Timed ticketing can help you control the crowd flow at your event by limiting the number of guests who enter during a given time period (we recommend one-hour time slots but you can customize them however you like!). You set the time slots and a maximum number of guests per slot. This will allow you to keep that line flowing much more quickly, to forecast the number of attendees before the event, and to potentially charge a higher price for tickets that get through the line more quickly.
Prepare for virtual access
Dramatically reducing the number of guests at your event will no doubt have a negative impact on your bottom line. Many haunt owners are searching for ways to make up that revenue.
One way you can mitigate the impact of reduced crowds is by incorporating virtual events into your haunt. Consider filming a virtual walkthrough of your haunt so guests can watch from the safety and comfort of home. Or add a ticketed virtual livestream of your haunt where ticket-purchasers can watch other guests experience it live. These virtual options can boost your revenue and allow guests
- Who are immunocompromised to attend without health risks;
- Who don’t yet feel comfortable attending an in-person event to participate;
- Who live far away to attend from their home state.
Learn more about virtual events here or get inspired by these ideas.
Marketing and Advertising
Communicating with guests is more important now than ever. Customers want to know which businesses are open and what precautions you are taking to prevent the spread of germs in your facility.
Update printed and digital materials
If you have signs, banners, flyers, or other marketing materials with last year’s date, now is the time to update them. It makes for a sloppy first impression to see old information on a business’s sign right before you hand them your credit card.
The same goes for your website. Update your operating hours and make sure your contact information is still correct. Pay particular attention to any disclosures or policies you have on print or web materials, such as refund policies or indemnity clauses.
Reach out to your past customers
The best way to get past customers to return to your haunt is to remind them that you’re still around! If you’ve been using HauntPay, you can download a list of email addresses for every guest who purchased their tickets online last season. (Here’s how.) Send an email blast to all your past customers, letting them know when you’re going to be open, what’s new, and how they can get tickets. Do this step after you’ve set up your ticketing, so you can include a link where guests can purchase advance passes for this season.
Revamp ad campaigns
A lot of haunts run advertisements across the same channels year after year, and that’s totally fine! Do what works. Just don’t forget to update those campaigns before the season starts. Running billboard ads? Sign your contracts and reserve space now, and pay attention to the production deadlines. Digital ads or online banners? Get your graphic designer started on creative work this week while you update the details from last year’s campaign. The same goes for social media ads.
While you’re at it, take an hour (or half if you can only spare that much time) to evaluate your current advertising strategy: How’s your ROI doing? Are there some channels that aren’t bringing in business anymore? Any new channels you want to test out? Evolving your ad strategy can help you find new customers and get the best bang for your buck.
Reach out to local media
This isn’t a normal Halloween season, and many news outlets will be covering the holiday with lists of which attractions are open, which are closed, and what guests should expect or prepare to make their visits go as smoothly as possible. Reach out to as many local news outlets as you can to make sure your haunt is on any lists of open attractions they may publish.
Set up automations
This applies not only to marketing campaigns but to tons of other business functions as well. HauntPay (Passage) integrates with more than 2,000 apps through our partnership with Zapier, an in-this-then-that engine that automates tasks like bookkeeping, email marketing, and more.
Learn more about our Zapier integration or start creating your first Zap here.
Need help with your ticketing or setting up virtual queues? Schedule an onboarding call with our support team and we’ll set everything up for you!
Download our Haunt Season Checklist to make sure your haunted attraction is ready for the season!