Haunted houses, scare mazes and late-night openings are a staple of the Halloween experience at attractions. Often one of the biggest seasons of the year, thrill seekers from near and far seek out screams, scares and chills during the October witching hours.
Yet, the scariest story of them all, is that of the 2020 scare season. After the pandemic put the frivolity on pause last year, this year, the parks are coming back with a vengeance. But while we all get used to our new [para] normal, it looks like we’ll still have a few tricks to get our heads around ahead of this upcoming season.
As summer workers head back to school and college, Attractions already feeling the pain from staffing shortages will need to look for new and creative ways to thrill guests during one of their busiest seasons.
And this year, it won’t just be the actors and actresses wearing the masks. While masks wearing is currently a choice in the UK, it remains compulsory for our fiends overseas and Attractions need to continue supporting guests who want to maintain social distancing measures during the Halloween season. That may mean divulging more information about mazes, contained spaces and activities than in previous years. The trick is to share the information guests need to feel safe, so they only need to worry about being scared for all of the right reasons when they visit.
While we can’t combat staffing shortages directly and ease new social distancing requirements, there are ways to reduce the burden on operators and staff so that everyone can focus on having a frighteningly good time.
Over the past ten years, we’ve helped attraction marketers from the world’s biggest parks vamp up their Halloween events using mobile technology, so we’ve asked our team to share 6 of the wickedest ways a mobile app can enhance your halloween event.
An...ti...cipation… Thrill-seekers live for it. A bit like the grown-up equivalent of Santa coming, Halloween plans are best when served with an added dose of suspense – so thinking about how you’ll build excitement across key channels in the lead up to your event is a must.
A great example of this comes from Alton Towers. Their annual scare-fest event is awash with spine-tingling PR and marketing stunts that start to build anticipation weeks before the main event. Anyone remember the ads for Thirteen? The creepy 5-second videos were resurrected on TV, social media and billboards, ensuring the annual event was in the forefront of viewers' minds.
Think about how you can use a combination of your owned, earned and shared channels to create a buzz in the lead up to the event. Examples include sharing event teasers on social media and using push notifications to app users, encouraging them to plan a visit. You can also add a custom home screen and event logo to your mobile app, so guests get into the spooky spirit when they log on to plan their Halloween itinerary.
Nothing builds anticipation like a good ghost story, and it turns out we’re obsessed with them. 👻 The first ghost stories were recorded in the first century AD, meaning our enthusiasm for the supernatural goes back thousands of years!
Scientists have linked the phenomenon to the release of endorphins and dopamine after experiencing an adrenaline rush, leaving us wanting another thrill. In other words, by crafting a great story around your Halloween event, you’ll pique readers' interest and leave them craving the on-the-day experience.
You can weave your story into above the line marketing assets, personalised emails and even keep guests enthralled during their visit, using your guest experience platform to send location-based updates to guests as they explore your themed activities.
Many parks add temporary rides or activities for the scare season, like scare mazes, haunted woods and late-night sessions for particular rides. With a physical map, it can be difficult to justify the expense of a print run for the temporary updates, not least the environmental impact.
Customers often tell us that one of the most significant benefits of using an interactive site map is quickly adapting content for specific events. In the run-up to the Halloween period, they give their maps a freakishly good makeover so that guests can find all the additional activities on offer without needing to print a temporary map for the occasion.
Most marketing channels are scarily impersonal! But there are ways to build a more meaningful relationship with guests. Using Bluetooth beacons, you can send targeted notifications to guests when they visit specific geographic locations. It’s a great way to have some spooky fun and wow guests with a more immersive experience.
Whether it’s a warning that something might be lurking in your dark and misty woods or a reminder that they’re missing out on a fang-tastic🦇 dining experience at a themed restaurant they’re passing. Personalised messaging can ensure that guests don’t miss out on a single thing on offer during your scare season.
Especially at Halloween, safety is paramount, and this year, many guests will still be taking precautions to minimise the risk from COVID-19. It’s more important than ever to keep guests up-to-date with your social distancing measures, so they can rest in peace, knowing they’re getting scared for all the right reasons.
We recommend updating your social distancing measures for the scare season, as the event itself throws up questions that don’t apply all year round. For example, zombies might not be the only thing on guests’ minds when it comes to your special events. They’ll want to know whether actors are masked, whether touching is allowed and what the testing requirements are for those mixing with the public every day. Other considerations include whether indoor areas will be ventilated and how queues will be managed at temporary attractions.
Using a guest-facing mobile app, you can add an information pane for guests to review all of your social distancing information and refer back to it whilst they’re on site. You can also temporarily update ride or activity descriptions to outline what level of contact guests can expect.
This year it's been great to see so many attractions running family-friendly scare celebrations that won’t give the little ones too much of a fright. From Twycross Zoo's Boo at the Zoo to LEGOLAND Windsor’s Brick or Treat event, there are loads of activities on offer for mini thrill-seekers to enjoy.
Whether you’re running events for all ages or targeting a specific age group, make sure guests can easily figure out which activities match their scare capacity. Why not introduce a scare-o-meter and rank attractions in order of their fright level. You could add an attraction’s scare-o-meter rank to its pane in your mobile app, so guests can quickly check the suitability of a particular activity.
Or if it’s too scary for kids under a certain age, you can also add an age restriction so that parents are able to filter out unsuitable activities for children using the day planning tool.
Even though things may not be 100% back to normal this year, it’s great to see so many attractions planning bigger and better scare seasons than pre pandemic. Use these tips to raise anticipation, awareness and enthusiasm for your Halloween plans, as well as making sure guests are up-to-date with the latest social distancing measures.
Happy Halloween, ghouls and goblins!
P.S. What is a witch's favourite ride at the fair? A scary-go-round! 🧙