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The Challenges of Owning an Escape Room - Blog

The Challenges of Owning an Escape Room

20 min read · by Unity Escape Rooms · on January 12, 2024
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Welcome to the exciting world of escape room ownership! As an entrepreneur venturing into this unique industry, you are sure to encounter a host of challenges that come with running your own escape room business. From the initial setup and design to marketing and customer satisfaction, navigating the intricacies of this immersive entertainment experience requires careful planning and management.

In this article, we will delve into the various hurdles faced by escape room owners and provide valuable insights on how to overcome them. Whether you are a seasoned business owner looking to expand your portfolio or a budding entrepreneur eager to dive into the escape room industry, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies necessary for success.

Key Takeaways:

  • Setting up an escape room involves careful space selection, room design, and puzzle creation.
  • Choosing the right location is crucial, considering factors such as foot traffic, accessibility, and target audience.
  • Obtaining the necessary permits and licenses is essential to comply with local regulations and ensure the safety of your customers.
  • Staffing and training are critical aspects of providing engaging experiences and smooth game operations.
  • Implementing effective marketing and promotion strategies can help attract a steady stream of customers to your escape room.

Initial Setup and Design

When it comes to owning an escape room, the initial setup and design play a crucial role in creating an immersive and exciting experience for players. From selecting the right space to designing captivating rooms and puzzles, every detail matters in this thrilling adventure.

Space Selection

Choosing the ideal location for your escape room is the first step towards success. Consider factors such as accessibility, foot traffic, parking, and nearby attractions to attract a diverse range of customers. Keep in mind that the space should be large enough to accommodate multiple rooms and provide ample room for players to navigate.

Room Design

The design of your escape rooms will determine the level of immersion and engagement your players experience. Each room should have a unique theme and storyline, offering players a fully immersive environment. Pay attention to the overall aesthetics, lighting, sound effects, and props to create an atmosphere that draws players into the adventure.

"The room design should transport players into a different world, making them feel like they're part of a thrilling adventure."
- Hugh O'Neill, Owner @ Unity Escape Rooms

Puzzle Creation

Puzzles are the heart and soul of an escape room. Create a variety of challenging puzzles that require critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. Incorporate different types of puzzles, such as riddles, logic puzzles, physical challenges, and hidden clues, to keep players engaged and excited throughout their experience.

  • Create puzzles that seamlessly integrate with the room's theme and storyline.
  • Vary the difficulty level to cater to both beginners and seasoned players.
  • Ensure puzzles are intuitive and provide clear instructions.
  • Test the puzzles extensively to ensure they are solvable within the time limit.

By carefully considering space selection, room design, and puzzle creation, you can set the stage for an unforgettable escape room experience. The initial setup and design are critical components that determine the success of your escape room business.

Finding the Right Location

When it comes to owning an escape room, choosing the right location is crucial to the success of your business. An ideal location not only attracts a steady stream of customers but also enhances the overall experience of the players.

So, how do you find the perfect location for your escape room?

  1. Research the market: Before finalizing a location, conduct thorough market research to identify areas with high demand for escape room experiences. Consider the demographics and interests of your target audience.
  2. Competition analysis: Take a look at the competition in the area you are considering. While some level of competition can be healthy, too much saturation may make it harder for your business to stand out. Look for a location where you can offer a unique experience.
  3. Accessibility: Accessibility is key when it comes to attracting customers. Choose a location that is easily accessible by public transportation and has ample parking facilities. This ensures convenience for your players and encourages repeat visits.
  4. Visibility: Opt for a visible location with good foot traffic. A place that catches the attention of passersby increases the chances of spontaneous bookings and word-of-mouth referrals.
  5. Space requirements: Evaluate your space requirements based on the number of rooms you plan to have, the size of each room, and the amount of space needed for waiting areas and reception. Ensure that the location you choose can accommodate your specific needs.

Remember, the right location sets the foundation for your escape room business. Investing time and effort into finding the perfect location will pay off in the long run, attracting a steady flow of customers and ensuring the success of your venture.

Obtaining Permits and Licenses

When venturing into the world of escape room ownership, it is crucial to navigate the maze of legal requirements and obtain the necessary permits and licenses. Ensuring compliance with fire safety regulations and building codes is essential to create a safe and enjoyable experience for your customers.

Here are some key permits and licenses you need to consider:

  • Business License: Obtain a general business license from your local government to legally operate your escape room. Requirements may vary depending on your location, so it's important to research and comply with regional regulations.
  • Zoning Clearance: Check with your local zoning department to ensure your escape room business is allowed in your chosen location. Certain areas may have specific zoning restrictions that you need to fulfill.
  • Fire Safety Certificate: Fire safety is of utmost importance in escape rooms due to the potential risks associated with confined spaces and complex props. Obtain a fire safety certificate to ensure your premises meet all necessary safety standards.
  • Building Permits: If you are renovating or modifying the space for your escape room, you may need to acquire building permits. This ensures that your construction or modification adheres to the local building codes and regulations.
  • Insurance: Protect your business and your customers by obtaining adequate insurance coverage. This may include liability insurance to cover any accidents or injuries that may occur during the escape room experience.

Pro Tip: Consult a lawyer or professional advisor with experience in escape room ownership to ensure you have covered all the necessary permits and licenses specific to your location.

Staffing and Training

When it comes to owning an escape room, staffing and training are crucial aspects that can make or break the success of your business. To provide customers with immersive experiences and ensure smooth game operations, you need to hire and train competent staff members.

The Importance of Competent Staff

Staff members play a pivotal role in creating memorable escape room experiences for customers. They are responsible for guiding participants through the game, monitoring progress, and offering hints when needed. Their enthusiasm, knowledge, and ability to build rapport with customers can greatly enhance the overall experience.

When hiring staff for your escape room, look for individuals who possess excellent communication and problem-solving skills. They should have a passion for puzzles and be able to think on their feet. Additionally, consider their ability to handle high-pressure situations and work well within a team.

The Training Process

After selecting the right candidates, it's crucial to provide comprehensive training to ensure they are equipped to deliver outstanding customer experiences. The training process should cover several key areas:

  1. Puzzle / Equipment Familiarity: Staff members should be knowledgeable about the puzzles and challenges in each room. This enables them to guide participants effectively and offer appropriate hints.
  2. Game Operations: Training should encompass understanding the operation of various game elements, such as audiovisual systems, locks, and props. This knowledge allows staff members to troubleshoot technical issues swiftly, ensuring uninterrupted game sessions.
  3. Customer Service: Emphasize the importance of exceptional customer service. Staff should be trained to be friendly, attentive, and responsive to participants' needs, creating a positive and welcoming environment.
  4. Emergency Procedures: Prepare staff for unexpected situations by providing training on emergency protocols, including evacuation plans, first aid procedures, and fire safety measures.
  5. Team Building: Encourage team-building activities among staff members to foster a collaborative and supportive work environment. This helps promote effective communication and problem-solving during game operations.

Continual Growth and Skill Development

Investing in staff development is essential for maintaining high-quality customer experiences and ensuring the success of your business. Encourage your staff to continually expand their knowledge by exploring new puzzle designs, attending industry conferences, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends in the escape room industry.

Implement regular performance evaluations and provide constructive feedback to help your staff grow and excel in their roles. By investing in their professional development, you can create a motivated and dedicated team that delivers exceptional experiences to your customers.

Remember, competent staffing and thorough training are key to providing immersive escape room experiences that keep customers coming back for more.

Marketing and Promotion

When it comes to owning an escape room, marketing and promotion are crucial for attracting customers and driving business growth. With the right strategies in place, you can effectively reach your target audience and create a buzz around your escape room experience. Here are some marketing tactics to consider:

  1. Online Advertising: Utilize targeted online advertising platforms, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, to reach potential customers who are actively searching for escape room experiences or have shown interest in related activities.
  2. Social Media Marketing: Establish a strong presence on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share engaging content, behind-the-scenes peeks, and special promotions to entice followers and encourage them to visit your escape room.
  3. Partnerships with Local Businesses: Collaborate with local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions, to cross-promote your escape room. Offer discounted packages or special incentives for customers who visit both your escape room and the partnering establishment.

Remember to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by analyzing data and making adjustments as needed. Additionally, encourage happy customers to share their experiences through online reviews and word-of-mouth, as positive reviews can significantly impact customer perception and drive more bookings.

"Effective marketing and promotion are vital for escape room owners to stand out from the competition and attract a steady stream of customers. By leveraging online advertising, social media, and local partnerships, you can create a strong brand presence and entice potential players to experience the thrill and excitement of your escape room."
- Ian O'Neill, Owner @ Unity Escape Rooms

Customer Experience and Satisfaction

One of the key factors that sets apart successful escape room businesses is their focus on providing a remarkable customer experience. From the moment customers step inside the themed rooms, they should feel fully immersed in the story and challenges that await them. To achieve this, escape room owners need to prioritize several elements:

  1. High-quality puzzles: The puzzles in an escape room should be thoughtfully designed to challenge and engage participants. They should offer a good balance between difficulty and solvability, ensuring that players feel accomplished when they successfully solve each puzzle.
  2. Themed rooms: Creating visually appealing and immersive themed rooms is essential for enhancing the overall experience. A well-designed room that aligns with the storyline not only adds to the atmosphere but also helps players feel more connected to the game.
  3. Attentive customer service: Escape room owners should focus on delivering exceptional customer service. This includes having knowledgeable and friendly staff members who can guide players throughout the game and answer any questions or concerns they may have.

As owners, we strive to provide an unforgettable experience - it's important to remember that positive word-of-mouth and customer reviews play a crucial role in attracting new players. Delighted customers are more likely to share their experience with friends, family, and through online platforms, ultimately driving more business to your escape room.

Pricing and Revenue Management

Determining the right pricing strategy is crucial for escape room owners to attract customers and optimize revenue. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when setting competitive pricing for your escape room experiences:

  1. Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to understand the pricing structures of other escape rooms in your area. Analyze their offerings, target demographics, and pricing tiers to position yourself effectively.
  2. Value Proposition: Evaluate the unique aspects of your escape room, such as themed rooms, innovative puzzles, or advanced technology, and determine how these features contribute to the overall value of the experience.
  3. Upsells and Package Deals: Encourage customers to spend more by offering enticing upsells, such as unlocking additional clues or adding extra time. Create package deals that combine multiple rooms or include additional perks to attract larger groups or corporate bookings.
  4. Dynamic Pricing: Consider implementing dynamic pricing strategies, where prices fluctuate based on demand, day of the week, or time of day. This can help maximize revenue during peak periods and incentivize bookings during off-peak times. At Unity Escape Rooms, we like to keep our pricing simple, but to maximize profit, consider different pricing models.

Remember, competitive pricing doesn't necessarily mean undercutting your competitors. It's about offering a compelling value proposition that justifies the price while remaining profitable for your business.

To effectively manage revenue, escape room owners should focus on various strategies:

  • Data Analytics: Leverage customer data and analytics tools to gain insights into booking patterns, popular room choices, and revenue trends. This information can help you make informed decisions and identify areas for improvement.
  • Corporate Bookings: Forge partnerships with local businesses and organizations to secure corporate bookings. Offer team-building packages or custom experiences tailored to their needs to generate consistent revenue.
  • Gift Certificates and Vouchers: Sell gift certificates or vouchers that can be redeemed for escape room experiences. This not only boosts revenue but also introduces new customers to your business.
  • Customer Retention: Implement a loyalty program or membership system to incentivize repeat visits. Offer exclusive discounts, early access to new rooms, or other perks to keep customers engaged and encourage their long-term loyalty.

By carefully considering pricing strategies and implementing revenue management practices, escape room owners can strike a balance between profitability and providing an exceptional customer experience.

Operational Challenges

Operating an escape room business comes with its fair share of challenges. As an escape room owner, you must navigate several operational hurdles to ensure smooth game operations, maintain equipment, and manage bookings effectively.

1. Managing Bookings

One of the key challenges in escape room ownership is managing bookings efficiently. With multiple rooms and time slots to coordinate, it's important to have a robust booking system in place. This includes an online reservation platform that allows customers to easily book their preferred date and time, as well as the ability to handle cancellations and rescheduling. At Unity Escape Rooms, we use Resova as our booking platform, but there are many options out there to consider like: Fareharbor, Bookeo, Xola, Rezdy, Checkfront, and many more. Do your research, understand your needs (and your customers' needs), and remember that you can always switch. Most of these platforms have great onboarding experiences and will help you migrate from one platform to theirs.

2. Maintaining Equipment

Another operational challenge is the regular maintenance of your escape room equipment. This involves conducting routine checks to ensure that all props, puzzles, and locks are in good working condition. It's crucial to promptly repair or replace any faulty equipment to avoid disruptions during games and maintain the immersive experience for players.

3. Ensuring Smooth Game Operations

A seamless game experience is essential for customer satisfaction. Escape room owners face the challenge of coordinating game operations smoothly, ensuring that each group receives adequate instructions and assistance throughout their gameplay. This requires well-trained staff members who can handle unexpected situations, provide hints when needed, and maintain the suspense and excitement throughout the game.

"Efficiently managing bookings, maintaining equipment, and ensuring smooth game operations are crucial for the success of an escape room business."
- Eugene O'Neill, Owner @ Unity Escape Rooms

By understanding and addressing these operational challenges, escape room owners can create an exceptional customer experience and set themselves apart in the competitive market.

Customer Retention and Loyalty

As an escape room owner, one of your main objectives is to foster customer loyalty and keep your players coming back for more thrilling experiences. Here are some strategies you can implement to achieve this:

  1. Implement a Membership Program: Create a membership program that offers perks and discounts to frequent visitors. This not only incentivizes customers to return but also enhances the sense of belonging and exclusivity.
  2. Offer Regular Updates and New Room Experiences: Keep your customers engaged by regularly updating your existing rooms and introducing new experiences. By offering fresh challenges and themes, you'll give players a reason to come back and try something new each time.
  3. Solicit and Respond to Customer Feedback: Actively seek feedback from your players to understand their preferences, areas for improvement, and suggestions for new ideas. Showing that you value their input and taking action based on their feedback will make them feel heard and appreciated.

"Listening to your customers and responding to their needs is crucial for building long-term loyalty. Make them feel like their opinions matter."
- Eugene O'Neill

Maintaining Strong Relationships

In addition to the strategies mentioned above, fostering strong relationships with your customers is key to ensuring their loyalty. Here are a few practices you can adopt:

  • Personalize the Experience: Take the time to understand your customers' preferences and make their visits memorable by tailoring the experience to their interests. This personalized touch will make them feel valued and increase their likelihood of returning.
  • Engage with Customers on Social Media: Use your social media platforms to interact with your customers, share updates, and engage in conversations. Responding to their comments and messages promptly shows that you're attentive and interested in building a relationship beyond the escape room.
  • Organize Exclusive Events and Contests: Host special events or contests exclusively for your loyal customers. This can include advanced access to new rooms, private game nights, or even inviting them to participate in the creation process of a new room. These exclusive experiences further strengthen their loyalty and create a sense of community.

By implementing these strategies and maintaining strong relationships, you can enhance customer retention and cultivate a loyal base of escape room enthusiasts who will continue to choose your establishment for their entertainment needs.

Evolving in a Competitive Market

In the fast-paced and competitive realm of escape room ownership, staying ahead of the game requires continuous evolution and innovation. To thrive in this industry, escape room owners must adapt to the changing demands of their audience and constantly seek ways to enhance the customer experience.

One crucial aspect of evolution is updating room themes. By regularly refreshing the themes of your escape rooms, you can attract both new and returning customers who are seeking novel and exciting experiences. Whether it's transforming a room into a haunted mansion, a top-secret spy mission, or a futuristic space odyssey, the possibilities for captivating themes are endless.

"Introducing new themes not only keeps the experience fresh for customers but also generates buzz and excitement, prompting them to share their experiences with others."
- Hugh O'Neill

Incorporating new technologies is another avenue for growth and differentiation in the escape room market. From augmented reality and virtual reality elements to interactive puzzles and gamified experiences, leveraging technology can take the immersion factor to new heights.

Expanding marketing efforts is equally crucial for staying competitive. In addition to traditional approaches like word-of-mouth and digital advertising, consider partnering with local businesses or influencers to reach a wider audience. Collaborative promotions and cross-marketing initiatives can help generate a buzz around your escape room business and attract more customers.

Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

Understanding industry trends and consumer preferences is vital for sustained success in the ever-evolving escape room market. Attending industry conferences, joining professional networks, and staying connected with other escape room owners can provide valuable insights and ideas for innovation.

"By staying connected, we can learn from each other's triumphs and failures, exchange ideas, and collectively navigate the competitive landscape."
- Eugene O'Neill

  1. Stay informed about emerging technologies and their applications in the escape room industry.
  2. Keep an eye on popular culture trends and incorporate them into room designs and themes.
  3. Monitor customer feedback and adapt your offerings accordingly to enhance the overall experience.

Remember, the escape room market is constantly evolving, and the key to thriving lies in adapting and innovating to exceed customer expectations. By embracing change and consistently seeking opportunities for growth, escape room owners can secure their place in this competitive market.

Owning an escape room business comes with its fair share of challenges. From the initial setup and design to finding the right location, obtaining permits, and hiring and training staff, there are numerous factors to consider.

Marketing and promoting your escape room, providing a memorable customer experience, managing pricing and revenue, and overcoming operational challenges are all key aspects of running a successful escape room business.

Despite these challenges, the rewards of escape room ownership are abundant. The ability to create immersive experiences for customers, see their joy and satisfaction firsthand, and be a part of a booming industry that constantly evolves and innovates make it all worthwhile.


What are the challenges of owning an escape room?

Owning an escape room comes with various challenges, including finding the right location, obtaining permits and licenses, hiring and training staff, marketing and promotion, ensuring a great customer experience, pricing and revenue management, operational challenges, customer retention, and evolving in a competitive market.

How do I set up and design an escape room?

To set up and design an escape room, you need to choose an appropriate space, design immersive rooms with engaging puzzles and themes, and create challenging yet solvable scenarios for players to enjoy.

What factors should I consider when finding the right location for my escape room?

When finding the right location for an escape room, consider factors such as foot traffic, accessibility, parking availability, proximity to target audience, competition, and overall ambiance of the area.

What permits and licenses are required to operate an escape room?

Operating an escape room typically requires permits and licenses related to fire safety regulations, building codes, zoning regulations, and any other specific local requirements. Make sure to check with your local authorities to ensure compliance.

How important is staffing and training in running a successful escape room business?

Staffing and training are crucial in providing immersive experiences and ensuring smooth game operations. Focus on hiring enthusiastic and detail-oriented staff members who can deliver great customer service and manage game flow effectively.

What are some effective marketing strategies for promoting an escape room?

Effective marketing strategies for promoting an escape room include online advertising, social media marketing, partnering with local businesses, hosting special events, offering discounts or vouchers, and creating a strong online presence through a website and social media profiles.

How can I provide a memorable customer experience in my escape room?

To provide a memorable customer experience, focus on creating high-quality puzzles, immersive and well-themed rooms, attentive customer service, and an overall atmosphere that captivates players and leaves them wanting more.

How do I determine competitive pricing for my escape room experiences?

Determine competitive pricing by considering factors such as the quality of your escape room, the experience it offers, the local market, the cost of operation, and the perceived value by your target audience. You can also consider offering different packages and upselling options to increase revenues.

What are some common operational challenges faced by escape room owners?

Common operational challenges include managing bookings efficiently, maintaining and repairing equipment, ensuring smooth game operations, handling customer inquiries and complaints, and staying organized amidst the constant flow of customers.

How can I improve customer retention and loyalty in my escape room business?

Improve customer retention and loyalty by implementing a membership program, regularly updating room experiences or adding new rooms, soliciting and responding to customer feedback, offering incentives for repeat visits or referrals, and creating personalized experiences for returning customers.

How can I stay competitive and evolve in the escape room market?

Stay competitive and evolve in the escape room market by regularly updating room themes and puzzles, incorporating new technologies and interactive elements, expanding marketing efforts, staying informed about industry trends, and continuously seeking feedback from customers.