Author Topic: Escape Rooms  (Read 3148 times)

v8rx7guy

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Escape Rooms
« on: April 02, 2018, 02:18:14 PM »
This past weekend, my wife and I did an escape room for the first time with two other couple friends of ours.  We had a really great time!  Being my first ever, I really didn't know what to expect, it was a lot smaller of a room and the setup / theme seemed quite a bit less than I expected.  But it got 4.8 star ratings over 100+ reviews so I'm assuming what we experienced to be pretty above standard for an escape room.  Afterwards, the creator talked with us a bit about his inspiration and such and revealed that he was getting 50-60 groups per month through the room (6-10 people @ $22ea ea) which as far as I can guess must be about $9,500 or so gross per month (55 groups at an average of 8 per group).  As a Mustachian entrepreneur, I couldn't help but think it would be a pretty awesome stream of income and my background as a mechanical engineer could be pretty useful for creating & setting up my own.  The owner of the room we went to could not have spent more than $5,000 setting it up and the room was so small that I can't imagine his rent for the room could have been more than $1,000/mo.

Has anyone else thought of this, or has anyone actually done an escape room?  I am not sure if their popularity is still swinging upward or if it'll start trending downward in popularity.  What are your thoughts?

Miss Piggy

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2018, 03:40:22 PM »
I would have two concerns if I were thinking about this:

1. Escape rooms are a current trend. I don't anticipate them lasting long.

2. Given the "simplicity" of the one you experienced, I don't see them being a "repeat customer" kind of thing.

So those are two strikes against it, IMO: short-term, and pretty much only one-time customers. Risky.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2018, 03:51:21 PM »
I would have two concerns if I were thinking about this:

1. Escape rooms are a current trend. I don't anticipate them lasting long.

2. Given the "simplicity" of the one you experienced, I don't see them being a "repeat customer" kind of thing.

So those are two strikes against it, IMO: short-term, and pretty much only one-time customers. Risky.

Regarding #2, yes it was simple (not in terms of complexity, but more in terms of size and decorations, etc.), but the group I went with had a ton of fun and we are excited to go to the other theme room that this same guy owned.  So I would say "yes" you would never go to the SAME escape room a 2nd time, but if you had multiple rooms or change the theme yearly, you would definitely get repeat customers.

Regarding #1, yes that would probably be the biggest concern.  Is it too late to get into the game?  Not sure, but google trends shows a solid uptrend with no signs of slowing.

AlanStache

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2018, 03:53:33 PM »
This is a new thing for me.  Are they built in someones home or a strip mall or some random building?  Are they by appointment only or open like TacoBell? 
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v8rx7guy

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2018, 03:56:50 PM »
This is a new thing for me.  Are they built in someones home or a strip mall or some random building?  Are they by appointment only or open like TacoBell?

You should try one to get the experience, I would definitely recommend it.  I have only been to one, so I can't speak for all, but this was in an old office building.  it was by appointment only, there were 3 times slots during the week and a few extra on the weekends.  You have an hour to solve the mystery.  I know some escape rooms are more like complexes with multiple rooms all with different themes you can choose from.

Telecaster

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2018, 04:10:01 PM »
I did one with a couple friends.  It was surprisingly fun! 

SC93

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2018, 05:57:31 PM »
Even if it doesn't stay popular for ever, it might still be worth it. Get in now....make a really cool one. Something that blows the others out of the water. And have 3+ more cool ideas of how to change it up in the future. But go as cheap as possible.

OkieM

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2018, 09:57:17 PM »
If you can keep the overhead low, you donít have much to lose. The lowest overhead I saw was Laser Quest, the laser tag chain, turned a janitor closet all their locations had into a room. They used the staff they already had for checking in the laser tag people to set it up. The materials may have been $200. Still fun.

okits

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2018, 11:02:25 PM »
I did one two years ago (multi room, multi floor in a historic building) and it was very fun.  Liked the actors and feeling like I was in a video game.  Did it as a private party (friend's birthday) so it was all friends or friends-of-a-friend.  Time and location were not very convenient for me but if it were easier to go back I would (they had several themes).

HipGnosis

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2018, 09:15:32 AM »
It sounds like the video arcade and waterbed store of our times.

Even if it doesn't stay popular for ever, it might still be worth it. Get in now....make a really cool one. Something that blows the others out of the water. And have 3+ more cool ideas of how to change it up in the future. But go as cheap as possible.
ya, right...  blow others out of the water as cheap as possible.   You must be in bed because you're dreaming.


v8rx7guy

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2018, 09:50:19 AM »
It sounds like the video arcade and waterbed store of our times.

Even if it doesn't stay popular for ever, it might still be worth it. Get in now....make a really cool one. Something that blows the others out of the water. And have 3+ more cool ideas of how to change it up in the future. But go as cheap as possible.
ya, right...  blow others out of the water as cheap as possible.   You must be in bed because you're dreaming.

Maybe a better comparison would be paintball or laser tag.  But even so, a lot of people made a lot of money in those markets.  Nice part about an Escape Room vs. Paintball or Laser Tag is that it takes much less for a startup and the liability is much lower.

SC93

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2018, 11:19:26 AM »
It sounds like the video arcade and waterbed store of our times.

Even if it doesn't stay popular for ever, it might still be worth it. Get in now....make a really cool one. Something that blows the others out of the water. And have 3+ more cool ideas of how to change it up in the future. But go as cheap as possible.
ya, right...  blow others out of the water as cheap as possible.   You must be in bed because you're dreaming.

It's called being smarter than others. Some are, and as we see, some aren't. Am I speaking with a savvy business person (doesn't sound like it) or someone who works low pay for someone else? A savvy business person should be able to do it. Just spending less than 24 hours I've already found a place for $500 per month rent. My buddy said he will do all of the carpenter work for free.... same guy that did all the work on my house for free. My other buddy can be talked in to doing all of the programming work for free or almost free. Do you know what the best part is? I've done all of that while laying in bed and I will be laying in bed while they do all the actual work..... IF I decide to go through with this. But as you see, the idea did go over well with me so it has a good chance of getting done. Now get this..... if I do this, I'm going to also rent the place next door and put in an adult themed escape room as well.

Oh, I just had an idea.... a child themed escape room. I haven't done any research to see if anyone else is doing any of this so if not, it might be a good thing to start in your area. Sports themed.... the possibilities are endless really.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 11:23:34 AM by SC93 »

v8rx7guy

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2018, 12:42:43 PM »
It sounds like the video arcade and waterbed store of our times.

Even if it doesn't stay popular for ever, it might still be worth it. Get in now....make a really cool one. Something that blows the others out of the water. And have 3+ more cool ideas of how to change it up in the future. But go as cheap as possible.
ya, right...  blow others out of the water as cheap as possible.   You must be in bed because you're dreaming.

It's called being smarter than others. Some are, and as we see, some aren't. Am I speaking with a savvy business person (doesn't sound like it) or someone who works low pay for someone else? A savvy business person should be able to do it. Just spending less than 24 hours I've already found a place for $500 per month rent. My buddy said he will do all of the carpenter work for free.... same guy that did all the work on my house for free. My other buddy can be talked in to doing all of the programming work for free or almost free. Do you know what the best part is? I've done all of that while laying in bed and I will be laying in bed while they do all the actual work..... IF I decide to go through with this. But as you see, the idea did go over well with me so it has a good chance of getting done. Now get this..... if I do this, I'm going to also rent the place next door and put in an adult themed escape room as well.

Oh, I just had an idea.... a child themed escape room. I haven't done any research to see if anyone else is doing any of this so if not, it might be a good thing to start in your area. Sports themed.... the possibilities are endless really.

Are you thinking about starting one?  There is one locally that is more "kid friendly" but I'm not sure if it's meant specifically for kids.  I imagine that if someone could have a facility with 4 or so different rooms, one for kids, one scary one for Halloween time, and two others that are have interesting themes I bet you would have a really successful business.  For now I am considering seeing what it's like and just dipping my toe in with a single low-overhead room.

chuckster

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2018, 12:47:21 PM »
Has anyone else thought of this, or has anyone actually done an escape room?  I am not sure if their popularity is still swinging upward or if it'll start trending downward in popularity.  What are your thoughts?

I've actually been tempted to do something a little different, more like a co-operative Star Trek-like experience. It might cost a bit more to set up initially, but, it's easier to set up different scenarios for repeat customers. Every day could be a new adventure. I might keep it in my back pocket in case escape rooms trend down and some owner is looking to do something different.

AlanStache

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2018, 02:42:03 PM »
Has anyone else thought of this, or has anyone actually done an escape room?  I am not sure if their popularity is still swinging upward or if it'll start trending downward in popularity.  What are your thoughts?

I've actually been tempted to do something a little different, more like a co-operative Star Trek-like experience. It might cost a bit more to set up initially, but, it's easier to set up different scenarios for repeat customers. Every day could be a new adventure. I might keep it in my back pocket in case escape rooms trend down and some owner is looking to do something different.

Years back there was an flight simulator-air combat and pizza parlor place near me.  Was sort of cool to go dog fight your friends in F-18's.  It was open maybe one year.  They had like 6 networked cockpits, several were down for maintenance when I was there.  We had to wait over an hour and then only flew for 20 minutes; just as you were getting comfortable in the cockpit the time was up.  The location was not good and I dont think they took reservations.  Maybe this could work now in our "experience economy" where people will pay to do things FB/IG worth - but I suspect it was expensive to set up and maintain with low margins. 

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SC93

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2018, 07:51:42 PM »
It sounds like the video arcade and waterbed store of our times.

Even if it doesn't stay popular for ever, it might still be worth it. Get in now....make a really cool one. Something that blows the others out of the water. And have 3+ more cool ideas of how to change it up in the future. But go as cheap as possible.
ya, right...  blow others out of the water as cheap as possible.   You must be in bed because you're dreaming.

It's called being smarter than others. Some are, and as we see, some aren't. Am I speaking with a savvy business person (doesn't sound like it) or someone who works low pay for someone else? A savvy business person should be able to do it. Just spending less than 24 hours I've already found a place for $500 per month rent. My buddy said he will do all of the carpenter work for free.... same guy that did all the work on my house for free. My other buddy can be talked in to doing all of the programming work for free or almost free. Do you know what the best part is? I've done all of that while laying in bed and I will be laying in bed while they do all the actual work..... IF I decide to go through with this. But as you see, the idea did go over well with me so it has a good chance of getting done. Now get this..... if I do this, I'm going to also rent the place next door and put in an adult themed escape room as well.

Oh, I just had an idea.... a child themed escape room. I haven't done any research to see if anyone else is doing any of this so if not, it might be a good thing to start in your area. Sports themed.... the possibilities are endless really.

Are you thinking about starting one?  There is one locally that is more "kid friendly" but I'm not sure if it's meant specifically for kids.  I imagine that if someone could have a facility with 4 or so different rooms, one for kids, one scary one for Halloween time, and two others that are have interesting themes I bet you would have a really successful business.  For now I am considering seeing what it's like and just dipping my toe in with a single low-overhead room.

The thought had never crossed my mind until yesterday when you mentioned it. lol So I made a few texts.... came up with a cheap place to do it, cheap labor and cheap everything else. Use the people you know to do things the cheapest way possible. My one buddy went to school for video game design so he jumped at this just for fun!

frost7777

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2018, 06:54:23 AM »
The owner of the room we went to could not have spent more than $5,000 setting it up and the room was so small that I can't imagine his rent for the room could have been more than $1,000/mo.

@v8rx7guy,
If you are thinking about a small room would it make sense to start off by converting a trailer?  No rent and portable, you could set up at special events/fairs/festivals and have your room booked all weekend.  Google image search provides a bunch of examples:  https://www.google.com/search?q=portable+escape+room+trailer&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSzs_W1KDaAhWo3YMKHSpLDrwQ_AUIDSgE&biw=1680&bih=959

« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 07:38:27 AM by frost7777 »

v8rx7guy

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2018, 08:29:50 AM »
The owner of the room we went to could not have spent more than $5,000 setting it up and the room was so small that I can't imagine his rent for the room could have been more than $1,000/mo.

@v8rx7guy,
If you are thinking about a small room would it make sense to start off by converting a trailer?  No rent and portable, you could set up at special events/fairs/festivals and have your room booked all weekend.  Google image search provides a bunch of examples:  https://www.google.com/search?q=portable+escape+room+trailer&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSzs_W1KDaAhWo3YMKHSpLDrwQ_AUIDSgE&biw=1680&bih=959

Wow, that is pretty cool!  Much higher upfront cost though, with the trailer, a truck to pull it, etc.  But probably a higher potential to make money being able to move it to where the people are.  I like the concept but I am thinking if I did something, it would be more brick an mortar than mobile due to those high starting costs.

jpdx

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2018, 09:14:02 PM »
I had never heard of this but it sounds brilliant.

A passing trend? Perhaps, so build you business so it is easy to get in and get out.

Lack of repeat customers? Build multiple rooms, rotate themes, have seasonal/holiday/special event rooms.

These games also seem to be popular with tourists and younger people, so there might be a stronger market if you are near a university or your city is a tourist destination and you make your place easy accessible for out of towners.

kpetar

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2018, 04:19:08 AM »
Two years ago anyone with $10,000 could open the first escape room in their city get a free local media attention and make a profit. Today most cities have several escape rooms and increased competition has dramatically increased the barrier to entry. 

Despite it's not easy as it used to be there's still enormous room for growth in the industry, but not for long. Soon, larger outfits will emerge and force smaller outfits to close or operate in some sort of niche. So, if you have great unique niche idea, go for it.

kelvin

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2018, 11:27:11 AM »
I do an escape room about every two months with a group of friends. We generally tear the room apart in record time :) It's all the fun of video games, but you don't have to worry about everyone owning the same console.

Keep in mind your target audience. Some rooms are more child-friendly than others. The ones within walking distance of the local university dormitories do well. Some cater to suburban moms looking for a venue for a birthday party. Puzzles need to be intuitive for the general public, no specialized knowledge or experience required.

I would recommend asking your local college if there's a video game design course taught there - I'm sure a lot of the principles would overlap. You could hire a student to help you design the room, they could put it on their resume and you won't have to design 15 puzzles on your own.

Good luck!

HipGnosis

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2018, 12:07:37 PM »
It would be cool if you incorporate VR headsets.

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2018, 12:56:47 PM »
I have never heard of this, what is a person who goes in one, escaping from?

When I saw the title, I thought of  tornado safe rooms, after reading just a bit, I realized this must be something else!
Is this a 'city' thing?

I'm a red panda

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2018, 01:20:22 PM »
I have never heard of this, what is a person who goes in one, escaping from?

When I saw the title, I thought of  tornado safe rooms, after reading just a bit, I realized this must be something else!
Is this a 'city' thing?

The premise is that you are locked in a room and have to follow a series of clue to "unlock" the room and escape before time runs out.
The one I did (for work teambuilding) also involved a zombie chained to the wall, and if you did something wrong, it's chain got longer and it could roam the room, if it caught you, you were no longer allowed to help your group.

In reality, at least around here, nothing is actually locked, for fire safety. You could just open the door and walk out. (ETA: I've since read that some actually lock their doors. I think for me, I'd want one that doesn't really lock.)

An example: https://denverescaperoom.com/

I live in a small city (population 15,000). We have an escape room.
(Just to point out market saturation... a nearby town with population 2,000 also has one...)
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 01:30:15 PM by I'm a red panda »

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2018, 06:18:43 PM »
Thanks for the explanation!

HipGnosis

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2018, 09:52:05 AM »
Hey v8rx7guy;  I thought of you and this thread yesterday.
I took my car in for a small repair, and instead of sitting there watching soap operas and flipping thru 10 yr old magazines for a couple hours, I went for a walk. 
The repair shop is down a side road from the end of a major shopping area on a major road.  Pretty much on the edge of a some-what yuppy suburb.
While walking back to the shop, I found an Escape Room business.  It's on the side of another business, and doesn't have a sign that faces the road.   The sign said "Escape Room" the biggest. Under that was the Co. name "Catch 22" and a web address.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2018, 10:34:45 AM »
Hey v8rx7guy;  I thought of you

Awwwwww :) J/k

That's nice that you found one.  I agree, they are often not well marked from a business front perspective.  Are you going to get some friends together and try it out?  I still can't get this idea off my mind, I feel like I could put together a really nice room for not a huge investment.  Wife says I can't start a new side gig though!

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2018, 05:52:59 AM »
I have worked on the creation of an escape room. I have three tips:

1. Make sure everything is indestructible. People will try to destroy stuff searching for clues.
2. Make sure your puzzles aren't lame, and make sure they all require different skills so no one gets left out.
3. Make sure your story/theming is awesome. This is what the keenos will appreciate and will give you a good reputation.
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Nick_Miller

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2018, 07:08:49 AM »
I have a little experience in game design.

I'd make sure that challenges are balanced. Balance is key. People have different types of intelligence...spatial, physical, linguistic, math, music, drawing/creative, etc., and groups of people might feature people with these different types. When someone finds a clue that helps the whole group move forward, they get really excited and feel like they contributed - doing this even one time might leave them with a positive feeling about the experience.

Example: One room I went to had this little statue that we needed to move from one location to another. It took forever for us to figure it out, but one of our members with strong spatial reasoning saved the day.

Johnez

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #29 on: June 15, 2018, 04:43:46 PM »
Had zero idea what the heck "Escape Rooms" were till near the end of the thread.  But damn, sounds like a pretty fun idea.  It also sounds extremely ripe for innovation being as new as it is.  And why limit it to a room?  I see a zillion possibilities here, can coordinate with local businesses to create a sort of adult scavenger hunt/puzzle game with clues strewn about.  How about a "reverse" escape room, have to find the place somebody is kept trapped? 

chuckster

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Re: Escape Rooms
« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2018, 03:55:06 PM »
A new trend here in a similar vein is the "Pop-Up Experience". Usually they run for four to six months then move cities. They are small art installations that mostly serve to provide backgrounds for people to take selfies to post on instagram and facebook.

Museum of Ice Cream
2001
Saved by the Bell
Candytopia
Museum of Illusions
Seinfeld
Netflix

At $30+ per ticket, they're making pretty good money for just painting up some rooms and fabricating some props. Obviously the Seinfeld/Netflix style ones need rights and permissions and stuff, but, ones like the ice cream, museum of illusions, and candytopia are just artsy backgrounds that anyone with a good idea and some social media marketing could do.