Is there a more destructive way of killing a brand than offering discounts? I've been working within the Zombie Experience industry for a pretty long time now and seen many experience companies come and go. One thing that's a certain is that those that begin to offer discounts are cutting corners somewhere. The numbers just don't add up...
When you look at Zombie Experiences at a surface level the numbers look incredible. £79.99 per person you're having a laugh mate, well I can assure you as I sit not in my mansion but at my Gran's house we ain't laughing...
With 3 sessions a day at £79.99 a ticket carrying 20 people in each makes for a tasty figure you might think. It could not be further from the truth and for the better or worse of ZI I'm going to tell you why. The purpose? I want these blogs to give our audiences an insight into aspects both challenging and rewarding that makes us freaking awesome but more essentially, to prove that we do this because we love what we do and not to make millions.
1. Rent Rent is high... If everybody could rent these enormous buildings easily then we'd for sure see more and more immersive companies popping up. Its no coincidence that we have 7 venues across the country but none in London for example. Rent is impossibly high. We work really hard with our venues to create long lasting sustainable partnerships. Even today I was speaking to new locations, its never ending. (See my other blog post "Zombie Experiences Are Evolving" for unlocking successful locations).
We pay our staff a decent wages considering its a Saturday doing what they love. I'd much rather be chasing willing victims around the oldest Steelworks Factory (Factory 2.0 - Sheffield) in the country than chasing Doris around Tesco's after she decided she didn't want the baked beans because they give her wind...
But staff are still expensive (deservedly, they work really hard to be the best), staff numbers and pay needs to balance out. Good numbers for complete customer satisfaction and decent pay to ensure they (staff) are motivated to give it their best each week (which isn't too hard, cause its awesome).
We got robbed last year (at Christmas), yeah... I know right. Some low life twat broke into our Stanley Tools Factory in 2019 and stole all of our weapon systems two days before we had an event there. Luckily our amazing customers were sympathetic and rebooked so it really didn't have much impact.
But the equipment was fairly expensive as are all the items we use. Items such as lighting (can't believe how many bloody lights I've bought over the last few years), make up (we use sfx hollywood quality make up to ensure our infected look awesome), replacement weapons after guests have dropped or smashed them (almost always accidentally). Our guns cost between £150-£200 a piece... We want you to feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a beefy rifle in your hands!
Additional smaller items such as First Aid kits and safety signs, bottled water, fan heaters for the winter, torches, batteries etc. It all adds up but all of course essential.
4. The Tax
Oh my god I hate these people, I'd rather cut my legs off than work in Tax. VAT takes 20% from every ticket we sell... If there was a real apocalypse don't tell anybody that you work for HMRC you'll be used as bait. In fact if a Zombie Apocalypse happens, (which lets face it might happen with the Corona Virus hitting our shores). I'm not just hunting zombies, I'm hunting HMRC employees.
Safe to say without this cost our prices would be much lower.
I did 800 miles last week. Home to Shepton Mallet (The Workshop - Somerset) then back home Thursday. Then Liverpool (The Tower - Liverpool) and back again Saturday! This weekend? Off to York (The Dungeon) Friday then The Factory 2.0 - Sheffield Saturday then back home! £200 a weekend on average. Its insane.
At Zombie Infection we are quite lucky, I have a background in Digital Marketing and so things like websites, social media and video can all be done in house at no cost (only my time, which is limited most of the time). However for those that don't this is a massive expense. I've seen £4,000 a month retainers being paid to marketing agencies... You have to market the events, its a full time job.
7. Third Party Sellers
We have some wonderful partnerships in place with third party ticket sellers. These are vital to our continued survival but oh my is it painful when you see another 30% taken from each ticket sold.
Lets not forget the figures now... We're down to around £35-£45 pp ish.
8. Business Admin
Accountants, phone lines and people to answer them, email accounts, hosting, H&S documents & training, business rates, ticket & transaction software, transport, hotels etc. Then lets not to forget to mention INK, I mean how fucking expensive is that shit! Its from making all this damn intel for the events!
In summary, there are many hidden costs that guests may not initially be aware of when booking a Zombie Experience. Costs that require precise management and experience to balance effectively which may have been the devastating factors that buried those that came before us.
We charge £79.99 per person not because we are greedy, looking to take the piss and or take what we can get from our dedicated fans and customers for little in return. It is a cost conjured from the long list of overheads we have. Overheads that are essential when aspiring to produce award winning immersive experiences that give our audiences amazing value for money in a climate where disposable income is not always available.
Which brings be back to the reason why Zombie Infection exists at all. It because we love what we do and want our fans to have the opportunity to experience the buzz when blasting an infected right between the eyes, rescuing a friend backed into a corner and saving the world from the forth coming Apocalypse!
Finally I'll leave you with the recommendation that when choosing your Zombie Experience to consider the list above and just what elements might be missing in order to offer the customer that discount or cheaper ticket price and whether or not that's the right experience buzz for you.
To take part on one of our new 2020 events head over to our website www.zombieinfection.co.uk and follow us across social!
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