The Incredible SIX: Our Takeaways from Transworld 2019

Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show 2019 has ended and if you’re like us, you’re still recovering. FearWorm had a fantastic show. All in all we met with great people at every turn. Transworld entailed making new friends and growing closer to the old. We had many fascinating conversations about haunted houses, marketing, and what the future may hold in the hauntvertising realm. Walking the show floor can be daunting, especially for any vendor who’s as busy as we are. Regardless, we were still able to venture out of our booth to take in the sights that Transworld had to show. Here’s our list of takeaways from Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show 2019:

6. The Haunt Industry is growing like never before!

We don’t think our team has ever witnessed a show floor as MASSIVE as this year’s Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions show floor. There were more vendors, more opportunities, and more haunting pieces to scare and entertain your customers with! From VR escape rooms and new snack foods to fancy, animatronic jump scares, Transworld was booming at every turn. Let’s not forget the new Christmas additions! With this show expansion, we noticed even more folks looking to get their break into this growing, contagious industry!

5. Attractions are moving into year-round events.

Transworld wasn’t shy about their inclusiveness of the Christmas holiday this year. Did you notice the objects related to other holidays on the show floor? We noticed pieces for St. Patrick’s Day, and even Easter! There’s never been more proof that attractions are transforming into year-round businesses and it’s clear that the industry’s vendors are now taking note. It’s true, more attractions are opening up for various special events throughout the year, like: Christmas, Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Break, Summer Shows, etc. What’s the benefit here? Well, scaring more people, of course! The pesky downside to opening during the off-season is that these events are notoriously difficult to market. Although, the proof is in the pudding! Here we can look to examples like Dark Hour Haunted House (Texas), Brighton Asylum (New Jersey), and Pennhurst Asylum (Pennsylvania), or any other attraction bringing in people year-round. Haunted Attractions aren’t just about Halloween anymore, and we welcome this marketing challenge with excitement, and determination.

4. The Haunt Industry is Craving New, Innovative Ideas

Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show is assuredly a whirlwind. Thankfully, our booth becomes a rest stop of sorts for show attendees. At the FearWorm booth, we have a table, chairs, and refreshments, and of course friendly faces. Each day we spoke with many haunt owners and vendors alike about marketing, but also about the show itself. There seemed to be a trend in conversation topic, and the consensus became clear: The Haunt Industry is craving new, innovative products. Some folks felt that, even with the addition of Christmas, they were seeing the same things on the Transworld show floor. For the FearWorm team, items that seemed to pop out this year were the midway-style animatronic games of the Dark Zone, the brand new Carnivale Caravans of the ever-talented Pumpkin Pulp, and the never ceasing buzz at the Haunt Shirts booth! As we cruised through the Dark Zone, we were much impressed by the games we found! You could shoot a skull like a basketball, and toss a ring onto a skeleton! There was even a life-size body that functioned like the old school game of Operation. These games are where macabre meets midway and are sure to entertain and captivate your customers. Entertainment like this becomes a conversation starter. These games are very socially shareable. That being said, interactions with these animatronics will be recorded and shared via social media.

PRO TIP: If you purchased one of these HOT ticket items, make sure you have your haunt’s logo fixed on a sign of sorts and attached. When these videos make it to the social media realm, you’ll want to make sure viewers know where to find this experience later!

The Pumpkin Pulp Carnivale Caravans were new for 2019! These wagon pieces are classic and carry that antique, old world Pumpkin Pulp feel. We were anticipating these, as their booth has been right next to ours for several years. The Carnivale Caravan on the floor was definitely well made, and commanded interest, yet it didn’t seem to get the expected response. A member of the Pumpkin Pulp team said, “…they tell us they want to see something new, well, here it is. And no one seems to want to pull the trigger…yet.” Pumpkin Pulp’s products are built with precision and style. The mere sight of them inspired our very own Patrick Stanger to come up with several different ways these new wagons could be used by some of our clients!

While some vendors weren’t getting the response they expected, others were flourishing. James from Haunt Shirts mentioned this was the best Transworld show they’ve ever had! Their new product line ‘1031’ appeared to launch and perform exceptionally! Haunt Shirts is absolutely doing it right when it comes to social media, design, quality, and service. And their success this year at Transworld supports that statement.

3. Killer Photo-Ops Promote Social Currency for your brand

Whether it’s a giant, inflatable “Stay Puft” marshmallow man or a zombified collection of Scoob and the gang, photo-ops can be fun and engaging! This is what we call ‘social currency’. Social Currency is essentially anything that inspires someone to share that promotes an exciting view of them on social platforms. Have you ever seen photos from an amazing concert and wished you had been there? An eye-catching photo-op can do the same for your business. It needs to be something that people will want to take a photo with and share to their social pages. These social shares build brand impressions for your business. Successful businesses create and utilize social currency to their benefit. With pieces like these, your show will be the memorable, thrilling experience that your market chooses this fall. Check out this amazing photo-op setup by Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group

Photo courtesy of Colleen M. Glenn via Haunters Hangout

2. Achieve holistic, entertainment experiences…not one-off “scare-and-go”

Does anybody know what the largest booth at Transworld was? It was for a Virtual Reality (VR) company! That’s right! A Virtual Reality company was presenting itself on the floor ‘large and in charge’, and for very good reason. Haunted attractions are just ONE TYPE of entertainment. We’re seeing many haunt owners across the country add experiences like escape rooms, and axe throwing to their events. VR activities are next in line! It is said that Virtual Reality cannot compete with the tactile, real-world aesthetic of a haunted house. At this point in time, they aren’t able to achieve the same level of detail and atmosphere of a walk-through experience. However, Virtual Reality isn’t meant to compete with haunts, they’re meant to enhance. As more and more young people grow-up with VR, it’s becoming relevant and expected for your attraction to offer some kind of relatable experience. Do your homework. Figure out how your business can incorporate some form of VR, perhaps as an e-ticket addition to your attraction.

1. Haunts need real, strategized marketing now more than ever.

We spoke with many haunt owners over the course of our long weekend in St. Louis, and it was surprising, sometimes we discovered that they didn’t have a strategy or any real marketing plan in place! This seemed to shock Allen Hopps of Stiltbeast Studios as much as it did our team! Allen mentioned he felt marketing should be your FIRST stop at a show like this, and of course we couldn’t agree more! Sure, there are startling animatronics, costumes, masks, and much else to grab your attention while on the Transworld show floor, but which of these items puts “butts in seats” as Allen would say? Well, the answer is NONE OF THE ABOVE. But guess what will…your attraction’s marketing. As always, FearWorm Hauntvertising is here to help you SCARE MORE PEOPLE, just as your actors, props and sets are trained and built to do. However and whenever you think of us, we are proud to play our part in all of this madness. And as you purchase your next creepy character or animated prop, consider how the team at FearWorm Hauntvertising can help make sure your target market gets to experience them, in the terrifying and awe inspiring way they were intended.

And now, we’ll leave you with this:

How are you capturing your customers? Are you tracking them? What is your haunt’s customer journey? Do you have a plan in place to nurture your audience AFTER they buy a ticket? How about after they attend? Are you still leaning on printed runs of flyers and posters? Are your coupons not working like they used to?

*Check your data

*Review analytics and reports

*Consider your approach

*Identity Market Touch Points

This year your marketing WILL be tough. Companies like Google and Facebook are planning out, right now as you read this blog, how they can make reaching your market HARDER for you this season, maybe even impossible. With all that is happening in this world fear wise, marketing haunted attractions is going to bring new challenges, for all of us. If there were any year for it, THIS is the year you will desperately need a strategy and a plan. Now, go forth, and wreak havoc! Here’s to a trying, yet successful Halloween season, from all of us at FearWorm Hauntvertising, SCARE MORE PEOPLE.