Social Influencer Series | Immersive Founder/CEO, Matt DiRoberto
Matt DiRoberto is one of the smartest and most creative minds I had the pleasure of working with in the media business. We spent the last few years together, talking about our "escape" plan. I wanted to break out into technology and he was destined for entrepreneurship.
He left to found a company called Immersive - a promotional and experiential marketing agency. He also left to follow his dream of creating a world-class haunt in Boston and he's done that successfully, as he prepares to open the doors to the second season of scary at Ghost Ship Harbor.
"You want to build a Haunt?", I asked not really understanding his visionquest. He then went on to pitch me the business model for a world-class haunted attraction. As he displayed the incredible and creepy artist renderings of what would become - Ghost Ship Harbor, I knew he would make this a success. The end result is a world class haunt with four attractions at the "haunted" navy shipyard in Quincy. It is truly a five-star production with the art and animation of a Hollywood caliber scarefest and the dream or should I say "nightmare" come true for a local entrepreneur.
I caught up with Matt recently to dig into the impact that social media was having on the launch of Ghost Ship Harbor. You can find the fright on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube. He is busy gearing for year two and working with his team of designers and artists to take the fright factor to the next level.
Here is a snapshot of what Matt had to say:
You left a very successful career in traditional media to essentially launch a Haunted House. What was the lure of bringing a world-class haunt to Boston?
I really felt like Haunted House attractions have been gaining popularity over the years and that there weren’t any in the Boston area. You have to drive almost an hour or more outside of the city to go to one. So there was this market being underserved that I thought was starving for something great and close by. So after 4 years of searching we finally found a home on the USS Salem in Quincy!
What is your vision for this year and the future - building upon last year's success and creating an award winning, nationally recognized haunt?
We feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface on the type of attraction we are trying to build. The goal of this is to Immerse you in the attraction from the time you get out of your car to when you get back to your car. We had a really good first year but not without challenges. As we continue to build on the storyline, the attraction and all aspects of the event it’s only going to keep getting better and better. It takes time to build a great business!
What role does social media play in the building the Fright Island brand? What about social reviews?
Social media is very important as it relates to our event and any event for that matter. For us it's about showing great content around the event, the characters and the overall experience. We are investing a lot in all types of media to give people the opportunity to see what this event is all about. In terms of reviews they do matter and we try to track the experience of customers through the reviews among other things. We know there were things that people loved and there were things that people didn’t like. We read them all and take the good with the bad, and there was a lot more good than bad thankfully. In some sense it's a report card that we can use as a tool to keep getting better. We will always strive to get better, add more value year after year and create a fun, safe, amazing experience.
In addition to the consumer experience, your event is a perfect opportunity for brand activation through sponsorship. Tell us about that.
Many brands are trying to figure out a way to reach millennials in a meaningful way. This event is perfect for that. Because we have an amazing creative team we can build anything for the event and that includes are brand activations. Along with that we have a talented scream team (Brand Ambassadors) that can help to activate sponsorships on a street level as well as great media partners. We can really help brands reach this passionate millennial haunted house consumer.
Can you give us a preview of what's in store for 2017?
2017 is going be head and shoulders over 2016. For starters we are adding a 4th attraction and not changing the price called “Fear no Evil”. This attraction is about a girl named Isabelle who has been having nightmares of epic proportions that are literally making her crazy and while there you will get to relive all her nightmares and phobias that consume her from snakes, clowns, spiders, and more! Also we are bringing back Contagion, The Plague and Paranormal Ghost Ship, our upgraded paranormal experience. All of them will be totally different from last year. Along with that we have a new VR experience called acrophobia, our VIP Bar in Box, the Macabre food village and 3 new scare zones. We have a lot of new things for 2017 that are going to make this event better!
Proudest Accomplishment - Being a father and husband of 4 amazing girls
Celebratory Cocktail - Mojito
Go to Social Channel (for Fright Island) - Facebook
Go to Social Channel Personally - I’m not that active personally, but LinkedIn
Inspirational #Hashtag - #dontquit
Matt DiRoberto is the Founder/CEO of Immersive and the passionate dreamweaver of Ghost Ship Harbor and the Fright Island brand. Immersive provides promotional support and activation for brands like Ahold USA, Bldup.com and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. He lives in the Metrowest with his family. He is a proud Babson Alum and watched his team win the National Championship in Basketball this past season.
About the interviewer:
Mark Keaney is a Husband, Dad, Coach, Mentor and Leader. With over 20 years of experience in the media industry and a wild ride in the world of tech start-up & social - Mark is helping brands deliver world class CX at Lithium Technologies, where he is the Regional Vice President of Sales for the East and Central. His mantra is - Brand Globally. Market Locally.
e: firstname.lastname@example.org or t: @markkeaney2pt0