How to Retain All-Star Haunt Actors
Justin | January 11, 2022
Last year, I wrote an article about recruiting haunt actors. But just because you have managed to find a talented cast this year doesn't mean they're going to come back. Retaining your good actors from year to year can be a challenge, especially if there are other haunts in your area. Luckily there are plenty of things you can do both during the season and throughout the year to keep your core team excited to be back each year.
Free food. Having food and water, especially on busy weekend nights, can go a long way in keeping your actors happy. You don't need elaborate meals here. Just something simple to keep your actors going. You can easily use rotating breaks within each section or attraction so actors can have a real break to refuel. Some good options include:
- Individually wrapped chips or snacks
- Party-platter sandwiches
- Hot cider or hot chocolate
Have a "staff night" - or nights. Most of your actors and staff probably stay in the same spot or scene throughout the season. Take the opportunity to allow actors and staff to go through the rest of the haunt- or the other attractions if you have more than one. This can be a dedicated night during the week when your haunt is normally closed or you can take the opportunity on slow nights.
Have an awards show at the end of your season. Award trophies or badges to actors who have improved the most, been the most dedicated, most screams, etc. I love Scareit Badges because they offer a low-cost way to show this recognition. The "badges" are patches that can be sewed (sewn?) or ironed on to a jacket. Earning a badge offers an incentive to come back next year to be able to keep adding badges to their haunt jacket. After several years, your reliable veteran actors will have a jacket full of patches to show off their dedication and experience.
Give out exclusive haunt swag. A lot of haunts order branded merchandise each season to sell to customers. Throw in another order of T-shirts or hats with a design that is not available to the general public. These can be used as awards throughout the season or given to cast members as a gift after their first full season for example.
Keep in touch throughout the year.
Plan get-togethers and outings periodically throughout the year. This gives your team a chance to stay connected and build enthusiasm for the upcoming season and/or events. Some ideas include:
Its helpful for both you and your team to use a consistent means of sharing updates so find something that works and let them know. It can be a private Facebook group, or something like Sithon that lets you set up actor groups and then quickly send out group emails and text messages.
- Plan a bowling night
- Host a pizza party (at your haunt location or a venue you have access to)
- Reserve a campground for a weekend
- Organize virtual video hangouts
No matter what you do, just make sure you are creating a good experience for all of your actors and staff. Most of your cast is not showing up for the money. They can probably make better money elsewhere. But if they are excited about their role in your haunt, feel valued for their efforts, and not worked to the point of exhaustion each night, they are much more likely to return for as long as they are able.