How to Launch an Escape Room Business Successfully

Do you sometimes wish to escape from the hectic world? This is quite a common human desire to flee from the routine. The reason for this is not always the specifics of a person’s life but the wish to experience something new and feel like someone different.

Family in an escape room

Humanity has spent several hundreds of years creating brand new ways to flee real life, at least temporarily: shopping malls, theater, extreme sports, good books, puzzles, music, podcasts, video games, haunted houses, Instagram, theme parks, vacations, and Disneyland. Then, people created inspiring escape games.

Today, exit rooms are enjoying unprecedented success. This is great entertainment for teenagers, adults, and respectable people. In our chaotic world, quests make sense, as they are exclusive. The passage of unusual missions allows you to flee from reality, and get positive emotions. Despite being different, all puzzle rooms have several things in common: they are interesting, engaging, and challenging.

So, read on to find out what escape games mean, their history, and many other facts along with the challenges of creating an escape room business.

What is an Escape Room

An escape room is an immersive, exciting, real-life quest game. It is also called a puzzle room, live escape room, or exit game. Such games belong to an all-embracing category of imagination games that include hyper-realistic scenarios, mind clues, escape room props, and role-playing. Some games focus more on puzzles, others on cooperation or even senses.

Along with the updates of unofficial data, there are as many as 2,300 exit rooms in the USA.

Although puzzle sites gained admiration only recently, they practically have existed for over ten years! The quests were inspired by video games of the realistic-adventure genre where users interrelated with the objects around players by tapping them on-screen.

In the process, a couple or a dozen participants solve riddles, spot signs, use props, and perform tasks in a particular spot to reach a specified goal. The scenarios are set in several fictional sites, like space-based stations, and jail cells. Often the gamblers need to run away from the cell. To do it, they solve many logical problems and find several props that may be handy in the process of unraveling another puzzle. High complexity levels cannot be passed without using analytical thinking. The competitors’ trials are usually connected to the quest’s theme.

Escape room in Boston

photo credit: Zgoza / Wikimedia Commons

Escape Room History

The fascinating “Escape game” appeared relatively recently, but it quickly gained great popularity among adventurous intellectuals. The prototype of the quest is supposed to be a computer game – an interesting adventure with main characters locked in a special cell.

This game became so famous worldwide that in the mid-2000s, Chinese and Japanese gamers had a unique idea – to realize the fictional plot in real life, to transform the game principle into reality. The gamblers were intrigued by the question of how it feels to be a computer entertainment character when gaining freedom depends only on one’s creativity and ability to find non-standard solutions?

However, no one rushed to realize the idea: everyone believed that the fun would not become popular and would bring losses. Only after some time, a group of fans created the first quest rooms. Many other countries have followed their example.

Games that contributed to the formation of the “quest room” concept:

  1. In 2004, Takagi Toshimitsu – a Japanese developer came up with the flesh game “Crimson Room” – an adventure prototype. Sometime later, an offshoot was introduced — the mission of “trying to get out of the actual room”.
  2. From 2007 to 2008, a Japanese inventor KatoTakao developed the Real Escape Game that was broadly distributed in Asia, let’s say, in China, and Japan.
  3. Creation of Chinese puzzle series “Viridian Room”. Its brainteasers no longer seemed simple and required spending plenty of time on riddle-solving;
  4. Even more confusing were the variants “Blue Chamber” and “White Chamber” – over its solution avid gamers could sit for several hours.
  5. During the 2010s, thrilling games became widespread across Europe, and East Asia. Then, the trend spread fast to Russia, Australia, Hungary, South America, New Zealand, and then Serbia.

The first-made quest room was distinguished by its small size, and helpful props were delivered in minor quantities.

Nowadays, many companies are eager to implement new ideas. They offer various fascinating quest stories and plots with unexpected twists. This allows you to feel like an adventure character, and spend quality time with your mates.

Escape Room Business Trends

Quest Rooms are a rapidly evolving entertainment industry. This is a superb pastime option for people tired of bowling and cinemas, who want something new that disconnects from daily worries. Hence, there will always be enough customers for a business of live adventure rooms. For a start-up, launching a quest-room is a large income source. The demand is high and the initial funding for the purchase of inventory and promotion are minimal.

Though running a quest business is a challenging task, for the right person it can be very rewarding. Even though the target audience of live quests ranges from 24 to 35-year-old young people with an above-average income, people of any age want new impressions and adventure.

Launching a quest game requires effort and investigation of the field. For instance, the most promising cities are the ones where citizens have already heard about quests, but have not yet received a mass distribution. In such high-demand conditions, the payback will be as fast as possible — you will see your business grow within three months or a little more.

The risks of opening a quest room may be:

  • The key risk is to believe the organization of quests is an effortless matter. The game organization and preparation require commitment, punctuality, and planning skills.
  • The big risk for room quests is a significant investment in the purchase or rental of premises and the props.
  • The risk for urban games is changing weather conditions, due to which pre-preparation efforts may be in vain.
  • One more risk of losing customers — one dissatisfied client can block the flow of newcomers for a long time.

Pros and Cons of Escape Room Business

Quest rooms as a business idea come with their pros and cons.

The pluses of the startup are as follows:

  • A relatively low financial threshold for launching a business
  • The chance to realize your creative projects
  • Availability of free niches in this segment of the industry
  • Fast payback
  • The possibility to work under a franchise agreement

Disadvantages of quest idea:

  • The business will pay off only in big cities
  • High competition
  • “One-time business” – customers who have already visited the quest will not want to repeat the experience.
  • High promotion costs

Studying clue in an escape room

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

How to Launch an Escape Room Business

Organizing quests is a great way to become a businessman. All you will need is a website, a couple of assistants, and good scripts. However, consider the downsides that might hold you back.

Let’s move on to a step-by-step business plan for your quest room .

1. Prepare for the takeoff

Before you deep-dive into how to launch a real-life quest project, explore puzzle games. Listen to exit room holders to learn the industry specifics. Do some competitor or market research.

Only then, you can proceed to the first steps of business creation. Choose this area, only if you wish to devote yourself 100% to this business. As a reward, you will own a well-established trade with low costs and excellent profitability!

2. Know your market

Research is a vital part of every startup, so dedicate enough time to gathering all the essential information before you make key decisions.

3. Select your area

It is important to decide on the design of quests: finding a room means more investments, for active games, the startup will need established communication and transport.

Clarify your goals. Answer simple questions like:

  • Who is your concept suitable for?
  • What will its unique feature be?

Here, being specific is the best means to facilitate the preparation process.

4. Make a plan

Define your long-term goals and priorities. Here are the basic points:

  • Business description
  • Market investigation
  • Budget & finance
  • Sales strategy
  • Marketing plan
  • Services & products

Now that you have identified your goals, choose a decent place.

5. Choose a proper site

Finding the right venue for your quest room depends on your budget limits. Besides being convenient, it should be a nice area. It should be within walking distance from public transport stops and parking lots.

Here is what to look for in an optimal business location:

  • Rental costs
  • Competition
  • Accessibility
  • Security rate
  • Growth potential

6. Buy escape room kit

The script is important — you can develop it yourself or buy it. The second option, of course, is preferable, particularly when you begin organizing business on quest games — the price of a low-quality scenario is too high. Besides the script, you will need an entourage in the quest site, plus sound and visual special effects, game props, costumes and communication with players.

7. Gather the team

A couple of assistants will be enough to organize the initial quests. They will work under a civil labor contract with pay, or without – it’s up to you. As the complexity of the levels increases, more out-of-game characters will be needed, who will require higher payment one way or another.

8. Deal with the Documentation

The uninteresting stuff is usually a vital part of the serious activities so don’t suspend it. To conduct business, registration is crucial. Get your company licensed and do it on time.

Pay attention to any resident safety terms as the industry is now strictly regulated. To protect yourself as an organizer in case of possible injuries to players, you need to make a safety briefing, which all players will get acquainted with.

9. Build a marketing strategy

After you have completed the previous steps, create a well-thought-out marketing and action plan. Remember to stick to your budget. Information about quests in the vast majority of cases is sought after on the Internet, so it should be easy to find:

  • Place your company name on Google My Business
  • A website with a detailed description, and pricing
  • Social media groups and topics on a local forum
  • Blog with photos from recent events
  • Banners on the city portal
  • Business cards in places of mass gathering
  • Positive customer feedback
  • Discounts promotions for regular customers
  • Selling brand-named products for extra profit

10. Secure financing

For a startup, you need a robust funds base. Consider all your expenses from the scratch: a building, kit, props, advertising, and other potential charges.

Research shows the standard costs for opening a single-room setup are between 7,000 – 30,000 Euros. In some cases, the expenses reach 150,000 Euros.

A franchise’s price may vary from 3,000 to 150,000 Euros.

11. Create thrilling themes

Think of what interesting actions, narratives, and original themes to offer your visitors. Find out which ideas will be relevant for the existing audience.

12. Follow industry trends

Despite the continuously growing competition, the business of exit rooms is still a blooming sphere in terms of profit. As the modern market is ever-changing, you need to follow the latest trends.

Alleyway in an escape room

Types of Escape Room

If you plan on making your adventure site, hopefully, this will help you have some ideas and prepare your things. See the common other types of exit rooms.

1. Arcade Puzzle Rooms

This one is a non-related escape room puzzle selection in narrative and logic. Based on the typical slot’s operation principle incorporated in a puzzle site, this lets participants buy coins to continue playing. The game uses no monitors, so the tasks are safe for a user’s eyesight. Besides, the game improves logical thinking, speed of reaction, and other skills.

  • Duration -15 minutes
  • 6 puzzles
  • 3 difficulty levels
  • The arcade puzzle room is aimed at stimulating players to get more coins and continue playing.
  • Arcades are an excellent entertainment tool for any leisure spot with high client flow, like leisure centers, hotels, and cinemas.

2. Portable Escape Games

In a compact handy form, this stimulating game does not require any setup as it was previously assembled. As a highly portable game, it provides the entrepreneurs a unique chance to make their business flexible when reaching out to a large range of players and thus turning it into a great advertising tool. It’s optimal for themed proceedings.

They train logic and attention, improve memory, and motor skills.

After players complete each game, they get coins, and exchange them for prizes.

Pluses

  • Portable, easy to relocate
  • No assembly required, Plug&Play
  • Short Payback Period
  • Suitable for both adults and kids

Here are places to locate the playground: shopping malls, restaurants and hotels.

3. The Playhouse

These are three types of fascinating puzzle rooms designed especially for kids. Three interactive electronics-based games train memory, and thinking skills.

  • MEMORY GAME
  • MAGNETIC LABYRINTH
  • LASHING MUSHROOM

Parents will be pleased with your attention to their children: no damaging screens, only activities that improve their skills, and logic. Due to the built-in incentives system, your young visitors will most probably ask their parents to repeat the game.

  • No additional investments into staff.
  • Every game consists of 3 difficulty levels.
  • Once all the levels are finalized, a coin falls.
  • The games allow several kids to play simultaneously.

4. Turn-key Escape Rooms

A “Turnkey” type exit room is a high-end readymade kit that comprises modern automatic and electronic exit room puzzles, exclusive 2-way Wi-Fi admin with a control system, marketing materials, such as images, vandal-resistant furniture, 3D visualization, video, impressive scenery, and odors.

The available escape room kit includes all for your new venture. You just need to act in line with the guidelines.

  • Production and shipping take 1 to 3 months.
  • There are also TURN-KEY puzzle CUBES – a 100% equipped puzzle game that is easy to assemble or disassemble.
  • Payback period: around 3-6 months. Install their kits in a venue with high client flow.

Pluses

  • The ready-made facility, decorated walls
  • Low-priced rent
  • Fully equipped with high-end decorations

It is appropriate for installation in cinemas, hotels, or malls.

Escape room game in Singapore

photo credit: SparkFun Electronics / Wikimedia Commons

Best Escape Room Suppliers

If you plan to build a new quest room, many companies provide the resources with industry expertise needed to help newbies launch their live quest businesses.

  • If you opt for a supplier’s turnkey services, you will at least get a quest scenario, site’s design, and finally the installation of tools and other game mechanics.
  • If you wish to focus energy on conducting your business rather than launching it, consider buying a successful franchise.

In this collection of puzzle game suppliers, you’ll find ones that offer a broad array of services and items:

1. Erworkshop – Leading Escape Room Supplier

The largest turnkey escape room supplier in the world. The leading company has 150 employees who diligently provide every needed service for companies on a global level. They have unique designs developed with the cutting-edge generation in exit site puzzles, and a control system, along with vandal-proof tools.

  • The company runs the largest quest room in the globe – 13,123 ft.
  • Its recent project – a tourist site in Croatia serves 5,000-8,000 visitors daily.

You won’t regret buying products from Erworkshop due to several benefits. You buy an escape room kit developed and delivered ready for fast installation.

  • Established: 2013.
  • HQs Whereabouts: Moscow, Russia; Budapest, Hungary.
  • Room Designs: 120 creative room scenarios , over 500 quest sites in 45 countries.
  • Over 450 Quest sites in 37 countries.
  • Largest Area: up to 10 rooms, totaling 656 ft.
  • Smallest Area: 13 ft.
  • Standard Investment: $20,000

2. Novus Escape Game

This leading escape room supplier is the first runner in the world to deliver character-focused games. Participants select a “superpower” before the game begins, and the tasks become more amusing and stimulating.

  • Established: 2014
  • HQ Locality: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Area Served: Worldwide
  • Locations: 12
  • Room Designs: 15 scenarios.
  • Minimal Investment: $25,000 USD + 3 months’ capital reserves
  • The room becomes fully operational in 2-3 months.

3. QuestQuest

The company boasts over 60 franchise sites worldwide, so they promise to the entrepreneurs far-reaching experience. They guarantee round-the-clock support, market specialists, and good support from room assortment to a reasonable ratio of price-to-quality.

  • Established: 2014
  • HQ Whereabouts: Moscow, Russia
  • Area Served: Worldwide
  • Designs: 60+ scenarios.
  • Franchise Sites: 60+
  • Minimum Investment: $8,000 to begin with.
  • The period required to become fully operational is nearly 1-2 months, and newbie companies grow in 8-10 months.

4. BoydEscapes

BoydEscapes has been a handy team of proficient operators worldwide to help build gainful and trendy adventure games. Their developers have also worked productively for large theme parks all over the USA. You may buy an escape room kit, licensed games, such as Terminator 2 Escape.

  • Established: 2014
  • HQ Location: Arizona, USA
  • Investment on Average: $45,000 – $125,000

5. Crux Scenica

This one is a well-known one-stop production shop for all original thoughts to be realized. You may view their wide-ranging portfolio, with images of their kits and products.

Apart from puzzle sites, they work a great deal in ads, for an international clientele. They provide both installation services of 100% and then ship requested elements to customers.

  • Established: 2017
  • HQs Whereabouts: Virginia, USA

Recap

Puzzle rooms form an experience. Each of them will challenge gamblers in a unique way. No matter what we call it, collaboration game, team builder, or an outlet, it has a healing effect. The final trophy is escape, both literal and symbolic.

To wrap up, if you intend to launch an escape game startup, this will be both a thrilling and challenging process. Provided you prepare well and get all the essential info, you will build a gainful adventure site and thus gain a positive experience. You won’t have a problem finding suppliers that ship exit room products, props, and high-quality services. So do not hesitate to research and then find the appropriate team you will like.

With our review and recommendations, now you know all you need to launch your wonderful escape room business. It is not important how much you understand; there’s a supplier that is eager to help you eventually realize your ideas. Are you ready to take your first step?

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