"The Halloween business is really competitive," says Steve Kopelman, operator of haunted house attractions in Ohio, Indiana, Arizona and Texas. LINK to Halloween activities around Philly.
Ticket sales rose in the mid-2000s with the popularity of "torture porn" movies like Hostel and Saw (which encouraged demand for bloody scenes, though Kopelman says "the pendelum will swing back"), and with retailers' increased interest in using Halloween to bridge sales between the back-to-school and Christmas seasons.
But it's not that hard to set up a haunted house, and demand isn't infinite. So "any edge you have, any interaction you have with your customer, it helps," says Kopelman, who also operates www.hauntedhouse.com .
He started offering tickets online after 2006. For awhile he used industry giant Ticketmaster's indie-oriented TicketWeb unit to set up the service. "But Ticketmaster lost sight of the little guy," Kopelman told me. "You pay a ridiculous amount. We were paying them about $7 on a $29 ticket."
Enter Philadelphia's Web-based TicketLeap. TicketLeap boss Chris Stanchak targeted the haunted-house market, showing up at its yearly conclaves. "They've been a sponsor of our Midwest Haunters' Convention for the past three years and we've been using their system for the past two," Barry Schieferstein, organizer of the Ohio-based industry show, told me.
Kopelman found the price and value attractive: "I'm paying them around $2 a ticket," he told me. "And they're proactive. They call you back. They ask for a list of anything you want improved. I don't see Ticketmaster doing anything like that.
Operators of haunted-house attractions, from Robert Dudzieck's Philadelphia-based Fright Factory to Shan Dabbs' Disturbia "haunted attraction" in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed they're using TicketLeap too. What sold Kopelman was learning TicketLeap had handled tickets for Comic-Con, the yearly pop culture trade show: "If they can handle Comic-Con, we don't have to worry about server issues or anything else.
"Sales are up since we're utilizing them. Partly it's because people are more comfortable buying tickets online now. But also they have good integration with iPhones, so they can sell mobile tickets, which a larger percentage of clients are buying."