The escape room sector new but it is growing in popularity and profit. 2019 has seen its first escape tragedy when teenage girls died in an escape room fire in Poland. Countless companies have since the accident revisited their health and safety policy and, more importantly, their exit routes. Indeed, as the core principle in an escape room is to find a key to unlock the padlock on the door, it can seem at first counterproductive to tell players how to get out. However, since 2007 – when the first room opened in Japan – these entertaining live puzzles have become so popular that there are now over 2,300 escape room companies in the USA only and 10,000 around the world. With the growth, escape rooms have also moved away from a simple padlock theme.
Despite the rapid growth, enthusiastic players continue to complain that there are still not enough rooms. In other words, if you’re looking for a profitable business, the escape room sector offers plenty of opportunities for new entrepreneurs. The demand is increasing every day. With premium prices for the experience, ranging from $30 for a 60-min game up to over $70 per player, it’s easy to see how launching a room with minimal investment can turn into a profit within a few weeks. Even landlords and local authorities gain from the rise of the industry as escape games can help to revive the high street. In short, if you’re looking for a new venture to take you out of the 9-to-5 dull office, starting your own escape room company might just be the thing for you.
Everybody loves them
Escape rooms have a dual advantage. Indeed, players and enthusiasts come from a variety of backgrounds. Unlike any other industry where the demographic target stays fixed, an escape room can attract a mix of generations, professional environments, races, genders and nationalities. The sky is the limit when it comes to escape room players; ultimately, some players are even bending the rules to bring young babies or pets into the room with them. In other words, it’s the perfect environment for a new business owner as you don’t really need to run a thorough market survey to identify your audience. Additionally, the diversity of escape rooms across the world reveals a highly inspiring and creative sector. After all, who doesn’t like a real-life adventure? And that’s where the escape finds its strength. Because everybody loves an adventure, it only takes passion and creativity to open a decent escape room. You don’t need any specific skill to make it work, which is liberating when you come from an office place.
How many rooms do you ideally need?
Opening an escape room business remains a costly investment in terms of room design and build. Many business owners choose to create most of the decor themselves – relying on certified professionals when necessary – to save costs. If you aren’t afraid of getting your hands dirty, you can launch a quality room for a few thousand dollars. Making a profit, however, will require to run multiple games – as you also need to cover staff and location costs. Small companies can typically cover their expenses with three rooms. Ideally, you should offer as many rooms as possible to your customers without compromising on quality. Indeed, returning players are a source of income; therefore, you need to have more than one room to offer to make sure players can come back. It’s not uncommon for a company to use multiple locations in the same town or to rent an entire office building – depending on space and availability. Staff management becomes a crucial element to success. Scheduling tools such as these https://getsling.com/blog/free-employee-scheduling-software/ can make a significant difference. Indeed, your players need a game master for each game – which makes one employee per room minimum – and you should also have someone in the reception area at all times. With opening hours from early in the morning until late at night, a real-time scheduling tool lets you manage your teams effectively.
What the best game model?
If you’re going to appeal to your players, you need to figure out what people expect. The best way to do so as a new business owner is to play a few games yourself and understand the difference between gen 1 and gen 2 rooms, as explained here https://www.hiddenkeyescapes.com/the-key/differences-generation-1-generation-2-rooms/. Indeed, gen 1 rooms are easier to build on a low budget as they are focused around puzzles – the investment in the decor and immersion is minimal. On the other hand, a gen 2 room may be more expensive to design, but it also more profitable – as the premium fees are higher. Additionally, you should also consider the number of players as well as weigh the pros and cons of a public vs a private room in terms of profitability.
You want to go above and beyond
It’s not uncommon for owners to want to differentiate themselves with a room that gets everybody talking. Typically, scary rooms make the news and are more likely to make your name known. A game such as North Carolina plague-themed escape room where plague zombies and a Plague Doctor are in the room with you guarantees an unforgettably terrifying experience. Should you aim for a strong scare factor to build your reputation? Experts agree that fear is the easiest trigger. However, differentiation strategy would recommend targeting a different theme to stand out in this world of terrors!
Make the fun accessible
Just like websites, escape rooms need to embrace accessibility. Wheelchair users want to live an adventure as much as anybody else , for instance. Creating an escape room that welcomes all players, regardless of their handicap, from wheelchair users to blind or deaf players, is the only way to share the fun. It’s hard work, admittedly, to build puzzles that work for all, but it’s a creativity necessity.
The little details that change everything
Are escape rooms just a scary adventure? Experts believe that escape rooms tap into our inner playfulness. As such, they don’t need to be scary. They only need to be enjoyable! But more importantly, they’ve come to replace events and parties for many enthusiastic players. For instance, more and more escapists ask for a ring to be hidden in the room for a surprise proposal – take a look at this romantic video. Others get in touch to request a birthday cake – or bring a birthday cake to hide in the room – for children and adults’ parties. In other words, escape rooms are replacing venues for many emotional reunions.
What are the new market trends?
Bringing customers to your escape company is as much a matter of room designs as tapping into new target demographics. Indeed, while escape rooms appeal to a broad audience, you can’t forget that every target group has different expectations. Business customers who seek team-building experiences will prefer large rooms to accommodate their employees. On the other hand, single nights or dating games should focus on small rooms only. The key for an escape room is to remain adaptable so that the game can be set and even personalize to fit.
It’s fun but stressful too
In a customer-facing position, stress becomes a natural part of your day. You work hard to keep players happy, and ultimately, you might need to find a way to relax on the go.You need to keep a cool head to run an escape business!
The escape room sector is booming. Now’s the best time if you’re looking for a creative and playful side hustle to escape the dull office!