Escape Rooms have become the latest “in” activity from classrooms to haunted houses to slots play casino venues. Escape rooms are physical adventure games in which players solve riddles and puzzles using the hints and clues that are provided by the Escape Room operator. The object of these escape rooms is to strategize in a way that allows for the unveiling of secrets that are hidden in the room. Some enterprising innovators have even built Escape Rooms online with online casino bonuses as the prize.
When playing an Escape Room Game the participants have a limited amount of time to “escape the room”. Each game is set in a fictional location – a dungeon, a space station, a prison cell, etc. Then, the riddles and hints that follow the theme of the game are provided to the players. Players must solve these clues in order to escape the situation (and the room).
Escape Rooms activities can include some or all of the following:
- Team communication
- Hidden objects
- Identifying objects
- Symbol substitution
- Locating objects in images
- Using something in a different way
- Assembly of a physical object
- Pattern identification
- Algebra and other math problems
- Pattern identification
Is Building an Escape Room a Good Business?
Building an escape room is a lot of work. You have to map out your concept, create the puzzle, set the physical details in place and consider every possible variation and alternative. You will need to keep your customers busy for approximately an hour – and don’t forget, many escape room players are quite intelligent and sophisticated.
You will have to consider the different ways to get teams to work together to solve the riddles and brainteasers by giving them clues that are somewhat complex but not too impossible. Finally, you should probably have a few escape rooms available so, if your customers enjoy themselves, they can move on to play another or so you can have different puzzles for different levels of ability.
You’ll need to plan out how you intend to maintain the physical safety and cleanliness of your game rooms, how you will place the clues and props for your customers to find, how you will maintain your website, how you will train your staff, how you will take care of your accounting needs and how you will promote your escape room puzzle.
If you enjoy puzzles and games, operating an escape room activity might well be for you. It’s a good business for creative people who like to design their own games but who also have a business sense and can do whatever it takes to start and run a business.
You obviously need to budget for set-up. Your set up will depend on how elaborate you want to make your escape room and what the physical space looks like when you get it – how much do you need to change/build/remodel/renovate?
Most escape room operators estimate that it takes about $5000 to open an escape room. You need to budget for:
- Room construction and design
- Technology – booking systems, website design, game management software, online marketing tools and professional guidance, etc
Is it worth it? Some operators say “yes” while others aren’t so sure. Escape rooms make money by charging participants a fee to play the game. There weren’t any escape rooms operating before 2010 – today, it’s estimated that there are more than 8000 worldwide.
In most locales, it costs about $25 per person to play a game. Each escape room can generally hold about a dozen players at one time. Operators who think ahead often operate several escape rooms simultaneously and many players move from one room to the next which brings in more income.
Main costs of running an escape room, outside of the start-up costs involved in building and outfitting the room, are rent and payroll. Some operators keep their rooms simple – providing some dollar store items plus paper and pens. Other escape rooms are designed using elaborate sets and technology.
One company, which runs relatively low-tech escape rooms, has seen its revenues grow by 800% in its first year and continue to grow every year since.
You’ll need to identify your target market – people who are prepared to pay to engage in interactive experiences. So many people these days are stuck in front of their screen, playing online games, that it seems hard to believe that a market for active gaming exists, but it does.
Another market involves businesses that want to treat their employees to a fun day or employers who are looking for team-building exercises. Statistics show that corporate clients make up 20% of escape room game customers.
Be creative. In addition to gamers who enjoy playing games for the sake of playing and businesses who want to give their employees a fun-filled experience, you should also try to get your escape room on the “to do” pages of local tourist sites. Many travelers, even those who would never enter an escape room at home, find that escape room puzzles are a great thing to do when they’re on the road.
Don’t forget family get-togethers and friends’ groups. Everyone may be online but many of these people also read the local paper so it’s important to make sure that you are featured in print media as well as in social media and online.
Ultimately, if you don’t enjoy games and gaming, the Escape Room operation isn’t for you. Your customers will sense if you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing and it will rub off on them. If you like designing and creating, enjoy challenging games, have a good head for puzzles and riddles, feel comfortable with fantasy stories and, most of all, have a knack with working with the public, setting up and operating an escape room may, indeed, be a good move for you.