The HAA Outlines 3-Year Plan to Support and Strengthen the Haunted Attractions Industry
The Haunted Attractions Association announces a three-year, three-pronged strategy of “protect, promote, educate” to better serve its members and the industry
- The HAA board surveyed the industry and discovered three areas haunters want support in: networking, resources, and personal growth.
- The HAA announced a new 3-year plan to both address those areas and to fulfill their mission to Protect, Promote, and Educate the industry.
- Immediate initiatives include: 12 online seminars and networking events, a member resource library, and a member-only Facebook group.
- The HAA will continue popular programs (CHOAS, OSCARES, State of the Industry, and Top Haunts) but cut less popular programs (shirts, swag, etc.).
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Every year the Haunted Attraction Association (HAA) gives a state of the industry presentation. This year however, was a little different (and not just because of the pandemic). Before this year’s presentation, the incoming leadership team sent out a survey. The results revealed some issues.
“Overall, how would you rate the HAA and how we’re supporting the industry right now? Low is 1 and 4 is high. The average right now is a 2.5 for this specific question. This is no surprise to us, because one thing that we talked about in our internal assessment is that we need to be doing more and we’re not doing it,” commented Spencer Terry, the incoming President of the HAA.
So, the Haunted Attraction Association knows they need to do more, but what does that mean exactly? Well, Spencer has a plan. A plan to not simply address these concerns, but to pivot the industry culture. Let’s dig deeper.
What the Industry Wants
First, the HAA identified three things that both members and non-members really want. “Access to resources, personal growth, and being connected as part of a network. These three things consistently were most what we talked about for what members want,” announced Spencer.
Addressing Immediate Concerns
The HAA will introduce a few new initiatives immediately to give members networking, resources, and personal growth. These initiatives are part of the larger mission-focused strategic plan, which we’ll get into more detail below.
Networking and Personal Growth
The HAA will debut 12 online networking/education opportunities plus a member only Facebook group to connect members. “Networking was by far the highest demand of what people want. We’re going to make that happen. We have technology now, obviously most of us are using Zoom at this point. So it makes no sense that we should not be harnessing that… From the networking perspective we’re going to do a couple of mixers. We’ll also be looking at attendance levels because what’s applicable for me at Fear Factory Haunted House, in Salt Lake City, will not be the same as a home haunt in Oklahoma,” Spencer said.
“We’ll be creating a specific member only Facebook group page. That’s where we’re going to be sharing a lot of this content, all the resources, the videos, a lot of extra data that’s going to be available for you all. We’ll still send out Scream-Zines, and all the different things that you’re used to getting as well, because some people still prefer an email,” he added.
Access to Board Members as Resources
In addition, the HAA will give members more access to the expertise of their board members. “We want to be a better resource. If we don’t have the knowledge, we know who does, that’s the reality. So we want to build this network a lot stronger,” said Spencer.
For example, Cody Bailey, the incoming Vice President and Founder of Hush Haunted Attraction, is collecting resources and best practices for members to use. The library will roll out to members by Fall.
That’s the plan to address the three largest areas (networking, resources, and personal growth,) but how will the association fund this stuff without compromising other services? Well, with some budget tweaking.
“There’s things on here that we currently have that you’re telling us that we don’t necessarily need. So we’re going to go back and reevaluate, like obviously HAA member shirts, that’s the lowest thing that’s on [the survey]. Maybe we don’t need to have member shirts as much, clarified Spencer.
The HAA plans to eliminate member shirts and make less swag & calendars. They’ll keep the popular CHOAS program, State of the Industry, OSCARES, National PR Campaign, Top Haunts, member portal docs, and Crisis Hotline access.
Building Onto Current Programs
OK let’s recap. The HAA’s survey showed unhappy members. The three things members want most are networking, resources, and personal growth. The Association will cut back spending on shirts and swag to provide monthly seminars and more networking opportunities. But the HAA’s mission is to Promote, protect, and education the industry. The new initiatives fit in with the mission, but they don’t cover all the mission. That’s where the board came in to make a three-year plan.
The HAA will maintain their most popular resources. Resources currently offered by the HAA, in order of member preference as revealed by its survey, include its CHAOS (Certified Haunted Attraction Operator Safety) training, member portal docs, State of the Industry seminar, crisis hotline access, OSCARES Awards, nationwide public relations campaign, and Top Haunts awards.
For 2021, initiatives proposed for roll-out include:
- Resource Library
- Facebook member-only group
- Offering marketing opportunities to signal boost to vendor members
- Continuing the current HAA auction, State of the Industry/Annual Meeting, and the OSCARES Awards
- Continuing CHAOS classes (at TransWorld and the Midwest Haunters Convention) and creating benchmarks for recertification
- Expanding current resource access, which will include an annually updated Membership Directory, Operations Safety Guides, 10+ HR templates and policies for staff, customer language/rules/signage, and more.
- Focusing on greater board diversity of skills and expertise
- Expanding online training to include 30- to 60-minute videos classes/panelists on top-voted topics
Beyond the immediate initiatives listed above, the HAA is planning 2 more years of rollouts. The three-year strategy (2021-2024) has three primary areas of focus: promote, protect, and educate. “We use those three as a filter to make sure that what we’re doing fits our strategic plan,” said Spencer. Let’s examine what’s listed under each prong.
By 2022, the HAA wants to add a session of CHOAS and also offer online recertification. “For the ‘protect’ side of things, we’re going to continue the CHAOS class, which is by far the number-one thing that most people think is beneficial for not only HAA membership but industry-wide,” said Terry. Besides continuing its current CHAOS training, the HAA has proposed a new level of CHAOS class—a system-wide, standardized training for actors in the industry.
Terry pointed out that if something bad happens in any haunted house, every one of us is affected, whether it’s in the US or another country. “We’re looking at how we can continue to protect the industry and protect attractions through both CHAOS certification and other trainings we’ll be offering,” said Terry.
“To promote, we’re going to market the industry better, more efficiently, and also do a better job of marketing ourselves,” Terry stated. The Association is developing a Facebook membership group to efficiently connect people and resources and allow folks in the industry to more easily interact. “We want to have a place where we can connect quickly and collectively, and this is where the Facebook group is going to be really helpful,” he explained. HAA’s $20,000 national public relations campaign also includes crisis management support that coordinates with the national media and assists members during incidents.
To market, the HAA gathers information from each attraction or event and creates a PR campaign for that attraction, and this will continue. Marketing was the second most important benefit that people surveyed wanted to see greater HAA resource allocation to support.
By year 3, the HAA will reevaluate the Top Haunts program to add tiers and by year 2 will add more members only events.
The HAA already provides education and training through seminars, handbooks, documents, and video tutorials in its exclusive, members-only site. Commenting on the results of the survey regarding education, Terry said, “The learning topics that members want to hear about were pretty diversified—everything from projection mapping to insurance to staff incentives and support. We’re going to take the top 12 or 15 of these and produce videos about them,” he added.
By year 2, HAA plans to offer CHAOS also at MHC and make an online recertification option. They’ll also solicit teachers and guidance from the industry on new education.
By Year 3 the HAA plans training classes for safety, weapons use, sexual harassment, emergencies, health & hygiene and more.