While the escape room industry has been one of the most heavily affected by the global pandemic throughout 2020, it has shown signs of bouncing back and is expected to grow even more in the years to come.
More and more people are looking to experience real physical interaction after a full year of isolation, so it’s definitely a great time to jump into the escape room industry.
However, just because starting an escape room is a lucrative opportunity, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be successful just after you’ve started it. You still need proper planning and market research to ensure success, and in this guide, we’ll share how.
Without further ado, here is our step-by-step guide to starting an escape room business.
Step 1: Market Research
It’s very important to first conduct proper market research to assess whether there’s enough demand for escape room entertainment in your location. Estimate the size of your potential audience, and also check the competition in your area (if any).
The ideal target market for an escape room business is those who are looking for interactive experiences, and you might also want to target business owners and coaches who might want to use the escape room for team-building experiences.
Step 2: Escape Room Business Plan
You’ll especially need a business plan if you are planning to secure funding from investors. However, it will still be useful as a road map for success even if you are planning to fund the business by yourself.
In your escape room business plan, you should discuss the following areas:
It’s obviously important to choose an appropriate brand name for your escape room business. Choose a unique name that is also easy to pronounce and remember. You should consider:
- The availability of the name, check state and federal trademark records
- Availability of web domain. Secure your domain name immediately.
- Availability of the handles in social media platform.
A huge portion of your startup capital will go to renting or purchasing a property and room design/decoration. However, you should also consider the potential costs required for getting required licenses and permits depending on your location. Also, estimate the costs you’ll need for digital infrastructure (booking/appointment software, CMS, etc.)
For operational expenses, employee payroll and utilities would be the major parts of your regular expenses besides rent costs.
In general, the average ticket price for escape room games is $25/person for a 1-hour game. However, perform a competitive analysis and check how much your competitors are charging clients in your area.
Step 3: Permits, Licenses, and Insurance
Check the legal requirements of starting an escape room business in your area, which will vary depending on location. Check with your local trade associations or relevant organizations about these local requirements.
If you are located in the US, then most states will require you to obtain a business license, and you might also need to acquire a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). If you rent a location, then it’s typically the landlord’s responsibility to obtain this document, but check with your landlord whether they have or can obtain a CO.
Also, even if insurance is not a legal requirement in your area, we’d recommend getting at least basic insurance policies to protect your business and yourself in the event of accidents, customer/employee injuries, and other losses.
Once you’ve fulfilled all the requirements, form a legal business entity.
If you are starting this business by yourself, then you can start it as a sole proprietorship. However, we’d recommend starting your business as an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or a corporation, which will protect you as an individual in the event of debts and legal disputes, among other issues.
Step 4: Designing Your Games
Your escape room is your business’s core selling point, so this step should be taken seriously.
Most escape room games are designed in a standard 3-act structure: the opening act is relatively slow with relatively easy puzzles, and the intensity should peak in the middle of act 2.
It’s important to design your escape room based on how long the game should last. Most escape rooms last around 45 to 60 minutes but keep in mind that younger audiences might get bored faster, so you might want to design shorter versions of your games when necessary.
Step 5: Establish Digital Presence
In this always-online age, it’s important to establish your digital presence at least in four key areas:
It’s crucial to have a well-designed website that is easy to navigate and informative. You can use services like Wix or Squarespace, along with the handy WordPress to easily create a professional-looking website for a pretty affordable price.
You should make it as easy as possible for your potential clients to book your games. Thus, integrate an online escape room booking software solution into your website.
In this age where everyone is simply on social media, it would only make sense to market your business on social media. Instagram and Facebook are obvious choices, but you can also leverage other networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to amplify your reach. Invest in paid social advertising and influencer marketing if necessary.
For queries like “escape room near me” and similar ones, Google pulls queries from Google Maps. So, it’s crucial to perform Google Maps SEO or Local SEO to let your business listing climb higher on Google Maps.
Youcan perform this in just four key steps:
- Claiming and verifying Google Maps/Google My Business listing
- Optimizing your Google My Business Listing, focus on providing accurate and complete information for your users.
- Building local citations by listing your massage business on relevant online directories
- Getting more reviews from existing clients, especially on Google Maps but also on relevant review sites/platforms
Starting an escape room business can be an exciting and promising opportunity, especially for those who also enjoy interactive entertainment. By following the steps we’ve shared above, you’ll have a clear roadmap in planning and starting a successful escape room business.