Good, dependable actors are the key to every successful haunt. They make each and every scene come to life so it's more than just a creepy room or hallway. The overall build and carefully crafted scenes are obviously critical and where a lot of hard work, sweat, and money are spent. But this is just the foundation. Last impressions are usually from interactions with the actors rather than that well designed bedroom scene with the bloodbath in the corner.
So it makes sense to spend sufficient time recruiting actors to make sure you have the best team you can get to bring your haunt to life. With any luck, a good core group from the previous year (or event) will return. Inevitably there will still be open positions to fill.
Those who have been around awhile probably have a somewhat established process for actor and staff recruiting. You may post an announcement on your website and/or your social media pages. Or post an ad on job board websites.
If you have trouble filling all your spots it may be worth posting your recruitment ad in multiple places if you don't already. Also, encouraging actors from the previous seasons to share your social media posts can really help spread the word and generate excitement for the upcoming season. And when your actors have a hand in recruiting, it creates a sense of comradery and ownership.
Here is a list of places to consider putting your recruitment ad:
Many haunts will ask prospects to apply and then show up to an audition.
On audition day (or days), you'll determine who makes the cut. For those actors, you'll need to make sure you have all their contact info and anything else you need to know about them (availability, allergic to latex, costume size, special abilities, etc?) Look for a future blog post with tips on holding auditions.
Although some things like a W-9 will probably need to be done the old-fashioned way (e.g. fill out a hard copy), it will make your life much easier to gather and store everything else electronically- and securely.
This can be something as simple as a Google form that actors fill out with their submissions being automatically fed into a Google Sheet. See this article for instructions. Or for something more user-friendly (and designed specifically for haunts), Sithon provides an easy-to-use application that does all this for you. After signing up, you can create and publish a customized recruitment form in a few minutes. Actor submissions automatically show up in the "Staff" table where you can quickly review and assign them to a costume during auditions.
At the end of the day, the recruiting process will vary a little for each haunt. It depends on where you are, the size of your haunt, and any special actor requirements. But taking some time to turn it into a proven, repeatable process can save a lot of time and hassle each season. And more importantly- make your haunt a success.