With the new year, new beginnings and all those goals you’ve set, what do you have planned to do differently in 2017 to get the results that you’re looking for? For many facilities, it’s time to think about new games, packages, menu items and even new attractions to boost your fun factor for new and repeat guests.
Our industry has seen such a boom in escape rooms recently. Have you been wondering just what the fuss is all about? I reached out to our friends at Creative Works, who recently added an escape room offering to their portfolio (and they even won Best Exhibit at IAAPA with it, too!). Here’s what their Vice President, Armando Lanuti, had to say.
What makes an escape room a good add-on attraction for a trampoline park or an FEC?
In the last couple years, escape rooms have exploded in popularity, and that growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. They are great add-on attractions for a lot of reasons.
First, and most important, is the experience. The purpose of any entertainment facility is to provide amazing experiences to guests. Those experiences come in many different forms (most often in the form of attractions). Escape rooms allow for a truly unique experience. Each escape room has its own theme and storyline, and guests are completely immersed the moment they step inside. There’s something so memorable and gratifying about working with a group of friends to solve the puzzles and beat the best time.
Entertainment operators are always concerned about square footage needed for any new attraction, as space is at a premium. This is another area where escape rooms excel. Each storyline experience uses only 250-350 square feet. This means an operator could install 3 experiences, and with the control room and other queue areas, it would take up roughly 1,000 square feet.
Square footage is one thing, but what about revenue? A typical escape room experience is 45-60 minutes long with an 8-10 person capacity. Again, the magic of the longer, immersive experience comes into play. With the average price to play at $30, this becomes a lucrative attraction with a great ROI.
Why did Creative Works decide to begin building escape rooms?
We’ve had our eye on this sector for a while. One of the biggest reasons we developed our own escape room attraction is because of the demand. Our existing clients were constantly requesting it, and for good reason. The existing options in the marketplace did not cater to FEC’s. On one end of the spectrum, we saw attraction franchising options that required operators to pay franchise fees and royalties. FEC owners rightly want to keep all of the revenue they earn, as this is how the rest of their business operates. Franchises just don’t make sense. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, do-it-yourself escape rooms. These are people who buy a bunch of furniture from thrift stores, put a bunch of padlocks on everything, and call it a day.
Between these options, we saw an amazing opportunity to provide an immersive attraction experience, but without the fees and red tape that come with franchising.
What should facilities consider when thinking about adding an escape room?
For facility owners that want to add escape rooms, they should install at least 2 different escape room storyline experiences. There are a couple reasons for this. First, since each experience has a low hourly capacity compared to other attractions, it allows the operator to have a higher throughput. Additionally, it allows for immediate repeat play. As anyone who has played an escape room knows, once you play a particular room, you won’t want to play again. This is because you know how to solve all of the puzzles, and the novelty is gone (more on our Modular Puzzles below). If you have at least 1 other theme, it allows guests who enjoyed the experience to immediately sign up for another one.
Are there any other logistical thoughts about throughput or max number?
Our escape room storyline experiences are about 250 square feet each, and have a capacity of about 8 players. Because of the nature of the experience, it doesn’t make much sense to build bigger rooms that can hold more people. Unlike other attractions, escape rooms require everyone to work together to complete a common objective. When you have 8 or less people, the group is intimate enough that everyone will be able to contribute to the team. If you build a bigger experience that can hold 12+ people, then the entire nature of the game changes. Because there are so many people solving puzzles, you could get to the end without having the chance to actually contribute. At which point, you would feel cheated.
Does Creative Works build puzzles as well as the rooms or do you recommend someone to help with that?
Yes, we build and provide everything. Each themed storyline experience has a different objective and a completely different set of puzzles. Our team spent months researching this attraction, playing as many escape rooms as possible. During this process, we learned which puzzles are the most fun and most memorable; tactile puzzles. These are the puzzles that go beyond padlocks, keys, and combinations. These are the puzzles that require physical inputs and have physical results. For example, maybe you turn a large crank and then a box opens up on the other side of the room. This was a WOW experience, and these are the memories that stuck with us far better than simple padlock combinations. So we focus on providing as many tactile puzzles as we can.
What makes your rooms unique?
In addition to building fully immersive themed experiences and providing memorable tactile puzzles, we focus on repeat play. As mentioned previously, typically once a person plays an escape room, he or she won’t want to play that particular experience again. In order to resolve this, we developed Modular Puzzles. These are puzzles that, over time, can easily be changed out within a themed experience. This keeps your attractions fresh for people who have played before.
How can escape rooms change the game for birthday and group business?
Because the average length of an escape room experience is 45-60 minutes, operators can very easily build party packages around this attraction. And since birthday parties are a main source of revenue for many centers, this is an easy way to build awareness for your new escape room attraction.
In addition, the best operators focus on corporate team building events during weekdays when they would otherwise be slow or closed. This attraction perfectly lends itself to team building because the attraction is built around groups working together to solve the puzzles and complete the objective.
So there you have it. An escape room can be a great add on attraction to help you wow your guests in bigger ways than ever, with new sales opportunities in many areas of your business.
Interesting in learning more about escape rooms and other add on attractions like laser tag or Lazer Frenzy? Attend Creative Works' next educational event on us!