This past year we ran into a last minute staffing issue with our haunt. We have run a home haunt for over 5 years now and it has steadily grown in size. This past year we had several volunteers (aka mostly friends) decide it would be ok to not show up after telling us they would help out. This lead us to have to use people that did show up and had not helped previously so had no idea how things ran to man the door and feed us our victims. The problem with using people that are not informed or experienced with a haunt is they do not always understand the process of it all.
The end result of our last minute quick fix to our last minute issue was a giant mistake. We ended up having to stop the whole event twice throughout the night so we could explain to the people feeding in the victims that it is of utmost importance that they give us some lag time so we can reset scare points and such. This break between guests allows us to reset props and gives actors time to get back into positions. When this does not happen you have actors in the middle of the pathways as people come through and props at the end of their operation trying to reset. The end result is a colossal killing of any effect you spent days, weeks or months trying to obtain. That is exactly what we encountered and it was a nightmare but we pushed through and dealt with it as it arose that night.
What did we learn from this? Well first off don’t always take someone saying ya I will help out that night as a for sure helper because they may never show up or tell you they are not showing up. The learned tip here is have backups rather you think you need them or not and have contact information on everyone who is going to help out. I have read elsewhere operations much larger running this way but many of us as smaller home haunts do not take this into consideration because we are small but when something does go wrong it creates much undesired stress and can ruin the show for many.
So in wrapping up make sure to have extra staff on hand at the site and others that you can call to come help if needed. Floaters as they are called are great for giving actors breaks, helping out at the door and covering for unexpected events but when they do not show your still in trouble so always have backups.