In the paranormal investigation field, "pay-to-plays" are those locations that one must pay a fee for the privilege of investigating. In short, a location, for whatever reason, charges investigation teams a fee for a set period of time to investigate said property. Investigators have mixed opinions on these types of investigations, so to help you decide on whether these investigations are right for you and your team, I've compiled a list of pros and cons that I've discovered are applicable to the "pay-to-play."
*Many big name "holy grail" type places of the ghost hunting world are now pay-to-plays, and paying a fee may be the only way to ever gain access for an investigation.
*Some pay-to-play locations are reasonably priced, and the money goes straight for the upkeep and historical preservation of the site. Although I don't think statistics have ever been compiled, but I would wager that more than a few historically significant properties have been saved thanks to the tourism and investigation fee dollars. In fact, some locations, such as the Ramsdell House in Ceredo, WV, "rent" the space out for a variety of events. You just rent the space for the standard fee, which is quite fair, and ghost hunting is welcomed, right along with banquets and baby showers!
*For new teams starting out, pay-to-plays are a great way to gain experience and start building up a resume of sorts. In order to get cases, potential clients like to see past cases...pay-to-plays can offer this experience and fodder for the group's website.
*Pay-to-plays are less stressful! Unlike a private case, there is no obligation to do intensive follow-up, and no distraught clients needing answers. Also, historical and background information on these places abound, requiring very little heavy duty research before a case...unless of course you WANT to engage in this research, and possibly uncover documentation that can make or break the claims of paranormal activity!
*Pay-to-plays are an accessible way for a non-investigator with an armchair interest in ghost hunting to try it out...get his/her feet wet, so to speak. You do not have to have an investigation team to participate in many locations' investigations, but you probably will get to meet several teams that you can network with, and learn various investigation methods from.
*Pay-to-plays can be VERY expensive, going up to several hundreds of dollars for just a few hours investigation time. And, if a nationally known television show has filmed there in the past, these rates may actually skyrocket. In some circles, this is known as the TAPS Effect, taken obviously from the impact that Ghost Hunters has had on the tourism industry.
*Pay-to-plays don't always offer the investigation team private access. At times, several different groups may book the location on the same night, causing less than ideal conditions. Even if the other team is a stellar team, any additional bodies in the location can lead to unneccesary false positives and evidence contamination.
*In order to keep bringing in the revenue, owners of such establishments have, at times, been accused of "enhancing" the chance of a paranormal experience. At the very least, any evidence NOT supporting a haunting my be suppressed, and investigators who debunk well known paranormal claims may not be welcome on site in the future.
*Some pay-to-plays have in-house investigation teams. This can lead to territorialism and a monopoly over the location, and certain hard feelings can arise in this era of paradrama.
I personally prefer to stay away from these types of establishments as much as possible, but do recognize the benefits of such, especially to newer groups. Fortunately, HPIR over the years has been blessed with an ample amount of free investigations close to home which have occupied all our free time. That said, we have done a few of these pay-to-plays in the past, and most likely, will continue on into the future with them, when time affords us.
If interested in experiencing one of these ghost hunting opportunities for yourself, please see the partial list of pay-to-plays in the tri-state area:
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV
WV State Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV
The Buffington House in Huntington, WV
Gist House near Wellsburg, WV
Waverly Hills in Louisville, KY
Bobby Mackey's in Wilder, KY
Rogers House in OH
Prospect Place in Trinway, OH
Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH