The escape room business model is one built for customer satisfaction. In fact, in the USA there is over 94% satisfaction level amongst escape room customers. There is always room for improvements and innovations though, so we thought we would take a look at ways escape room owners can make the experience even better.
The pandemic might have halted the steady progress the escape room industry was enjoying but now that we can return, business is already picking up. To ensure you stay one step ahead of the game we have compiled a collection of ways for escape room owners to improve their customers’ experience.
Expand to additional rooms
One of the biggest problems for escape room owners is getting customers to come back. If you have one escape room then once it has been completed by guests they are unlikely to come back in the short term.
As Mike Roe from LAist says, “once you’ve solved all the puzzles, there’s no challenge in playing it again.” People remember how to solve the puzzles so there’s not much value in returning.
It might seem obvious but expanding your selection of rooms as soon as possible is ideal for bringing customers back for more. Space is often at a premium but consider ways to allow for multiple escape rooms. That could mean investing in a second location or moving to larger premises to facilitate multiple rooms.
Change your puzzles around
Perhaps moving to another location isn’t an option for you. However, mixing up your puzzles or themes is a great way to improve the experience.
“We hadn’t appreciated just how different each escape game experience is,” says Dr Philly Harris, co-owner of Brighton-based escape room Pier Pressure, “and after experiencing a second game, we were hooked!”
Granted, it’s not financially possible to change the puzzles and escape room too often but there is a danger of it becoming stale if you leave it the same for too long. Make sure to inform people doing your escape room that you will be updating it regularly so they know to come back and try again.
Remember why you love escape rooms
Don’t forget to play through puzzles yourself. For starters, it’s important to quality check your puzzle to ensure it’s running exactly how you want it but that’s not all.
Don’t forget to scope out the competition which means, you guessed it, doing lots of escape rooms created by others! Other escape rooms may have thought of something you didn’t and it’s more than okay to incorporate that into your puzzles.
When designing your escape room, it’s important to think about three key areas: first, the story you are trying to tell. Second, the objective of the escape. And, third, the clues that are needed in order to fulfil the objective.
Offer additional activities
Consider that some people might have travelled for miles to visit your escape room. While escape rooms are more popular than ever, and they can be found in many towns across the UK, there aren’t that many.
Sure if you live in or close to large cities you can have plenty of choices but many escape room lovers don’t. They travel around the country trying out the latest escape rooms but once they have had their 60 minutes or less, then what? It’s off into town for them, or maybe they’ll just make the journey back once they have escaped.
Offering additional activities is a win-win for everyone involved. Perhaps your escape room has a sports theme, so offering something like mini-golf or golf simulators can help to further the immersion. You might like to add something else into the mix like video game arcades, axe throwing or a board game area.
With an expanded range of attractions, you may find more hen and stag parties coming along for an evening. Somewhere for your escape room customers to relax before and after will keep them with you for longer. Help customers make a day of their escape room experience by diversifying what you offer.
Hire the right game master
People who experience an escape room are often looking to be immersed in the world that you have created. An introduction with a skilled game master can set the scene for the participants.
Game masters with a flair for the role may just help contestants get into the mindset of solving the enigma code or breaking out of jail. Having a games master who isn’t quite committed to engaging with the escape room customers can leave them wanting more. Consider hiring someone with an acting background who has a flair for performing in front of crowds.
Escape rooms are great for groups of friends and families but don’t forget about corporate events too. As far as team-building exercises go, escape rooms are right up there.
They work for corporate events on several levels. Escape rooms can be a great way for newcomers to a company to break the ice with their colleagues. They can also help teams learn to communicate better as it’s likely the only way they are getting out of the room.
Escape rooms and interactive puzzles are so successful at being fun because they require members of a team to work together to win. Clues gathered throughout the 60 minutes can mean nothing on their own but when brought together the picture becomes clearer.
Consider the group size allowance
Dr Scott Nicholson, Professor of Game Design and Development says, “My policy for the number of people in an escape room is the same as the number of people in a tent – no matter what the package says, you’ll have a better time at half capacity.
Large groups in an escape room don’t tend to do very well. To use another analogy, it’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Smaller teams of around four to six people are ideal and larger groups than this can start to make things muddled.
To ensure that everyone leaves satisfied, it’s best to restrict group sizes. Throwing 10 people into an escape room might seem like great value for those who booked it but the success can be limited.
Instead, try breaking up large groups into two teams and pitting them against each other to solve the room in the fastest time. Adding an element of competition adds some mild pressure while still keeping things fun.
Make the escape room more interactive
The selling point of an escape room versus an out-of-the-box mystery puzzle, or video game version, is how interactive they are. Other versions of mysteries involve a suspension of reality to imagine props or they are experienced through a screen.
Solving the puzzles dotted around an escape room is much more interactive than that, so make sure your game is tactile. Those trying to escape room puzzles will commonly be lifting objects to look underneath them and moving items to see what fits where. A series of clues on the wall and a few keys isn’t going to cut it.
It’s about having fun
Ultimately, escape room customers want to have a great time and immerse themselves in something other than reality. Sure they are called escape rooms because the goal is to exit the locked room but the term takes on another meaning. They are an escape from reality for a short time and the more escape room owners commit to making it just that, the better the experience will be.