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Escape room

Breaking into the Boom in Escape Rooms: What Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Without a doubt, escape room games have picked up over the last ten years or so. Right now they're one of the hottest entertainment businesses going, with new games rooms opening every week somewhere in the world...
2020.12.21.

Without a doubt, escape room games have picked up over the last ten years or so. Right now they're one of the hottest entertainment businesses going, with new games rooms opening every week somewhere in the world. They're a great way to pass an hour with a group of friends, family, or work colleagues, as you all work together looking for clues that'll help you escape a predicament. 

Setting up an Escape Room is not Easy

After playing, many people start to think about how easy this business must be to set up. They want in for a piece of the escape room action. This reminds us of all the people who go to Spain on holiday, who then think they could make a happy living there by buying a beach bar. And so it's the same story with escape room games. Playing in a couple does not make you an expert in the business aspects of the game. Yes, your average escape room makes around $125,000 a year if it's fully booked for every weekend. But there's so much more needed to ensure that your business not only survives but can grow at a steady rate. It takes a huge amount of time and effort (and maybe a little luck) to start your venture.

Small Businesses

In the US, most escape room businesses are mom-and-pop operations. having said that there are more and more chains popping up and franchise opportunities. On the whole, the games are designed for around 6 - 8 persons and last one hour. The themes might include escaping from prison, hiding from a serial killer, or finding the cure for a deadly disease. As the game progresses, new clues offer solutions to puzzles and riddles and in turn, offer up more challenges. One point of interest is that a positive outcome is not guaranteed. If players get stuck on a certain puzzle, a game master will offer up hints. The rate of success varies considerably, but on the whole, around 30 - 50% manage to escape within the allotted time frame.

Players are making thier own Business

One of the great things about escape room games is that there's a certain democracy to them, in that because the game design requires many different types of knowledge, it means that any player can have a "hero" moment. It's only natural that we all like to think of ourselves as being smart, and escape rooms allow us to prove it. At the same time, there's a definite adrenaline rush. And many of those players who had such a great time are now starting to create their own. But just having some spare cash and having played an escape room game or two isn't going to cut it enough to set up a business.

Escape My Room Experiences

Escape My Room was founded in 2015 in New Orleans by Andrew Preble. He was able to draw on past business experience working at a technology start-up and running a busy restaurant in Berlin. He now has four games running. Though he admits that getting started was hard, he was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the business took off. On average the number of players increased by 29% throughout 2016 - 2017. He's gone from being a one-man-band to employing eight full-time and eight part-time staff. Though the genre of escape rooms has become popular, that doesn't necessarily translate into an understanding from potential lenders. Mr. Preble said, "Lenders still don’t exactly understand what escape rooms are, so it’s difficult to assign value to this as an asset.”

Stay Fresh and Save Money

Constant innovation is now a crucial part of getting repeat bookings. As more and more companies enter the escape room space, you need to be constantly reinventing yourself to stay fresh and ahead of the competition. This means switching out games, maybe introducing actors, and spending more money and time devising better props, decoration, and puzzles. Anything that'll help increase the overall immersive nature of the game. To save money, it's not a bad idea if the owner is handy with some tools. Building sets is time-consuming, making it one of the most financial drains on the business. Being able to do this would be a huge saving.

Team-Building is Essential

Thanks in part to how well escape room games have been received by the corporate world, many companies are starting their escape room businesses with the incorporation of conference facilities built-in. Thus a business can schedule meetings either before or after an escape room game, adding even greater value to the day away from their usual office. Of course, finding corporate customers is a work unto itself. many escape room owners shy away from direct marketing, instead preferring to focus their efforts on Google and Facebook. Google Reviews are such a critical factor in overall advertising because those reviews are directly affecting where the companies are showing up on search results. 

Watch Your Reviews

Many owners are learning that you must interact with those reviews. Even a bad review, if handled correctly by the business owner, can be turned from a negative to a big positive if the owner is willing to respond in a manner that appropriate. Other than the internet, probably the best form of publicity is a simple word of mouth recommendation. You should never overlook the importance of all the players having a great time from the moment they enter the building to the moment they leave. Many earlier escape room game operators thought that they only needed to concentrate on the gaming experience. But today, that approach just doesn't cut it. If you happen to be in a high tourist area, then leaving some flyers in hotels can work to get the ball rolling.

ExitTheRoom Budapest Franchises

Finally, in this age of Covid, it's worth mentioning that the traditional escape room scenario is pretty much off-limits at the moment with social distancing. Therefore every escape business should be thinking about running remote games. This is where you have the games master in the actual room. He's wearing a camera and the players, who can be anywhere in the world at the end of a Zoom conference call, tell him where to go and what to look for. It does sound kinda clunky, but in reality, it works well. Exittheroom in Budapest is now franchising their fabulous escape room games all over the world. It allows friends, players, and individuals to enjoy all the fun of the escape room experience but whilst maintaining social distancing. 
 

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