We don't consider FOX-N-OTTER Adventure Puzzle Rooms to be the first Escape Room company in Asheville at all. In fact, give respect and honoring nods to A-Escape and Enter the Conundrum for pioneering the way and showing continually creative options to Asheville without featuring franchise models! Great entrepreneurs at A-Escape and Enter the Conundrum introduced Asheville to escape rooms and jumped the initial hurdles the industry faced before anyone else in the area.
Early on we sought to make friends with local Escape Room owners because we understood this is a referral business and we could mutually benefit from promoting one another to our customers. A-Escape owners became our go-to mentors, being the first and longest-lasting Escape Room business in town. They were so kind to share their experience with us and genuinely offer us assistance as new business owners and puzzle room developers. This is a unique business idea and a relatively new concept, so learning the ropes hasn't been easy. Especially if you are already trying to evolve the basics to incorporate new market potential.
At FOX-N-OTTER we call this our desire to Remix the Fundamentals of Escape Room Basics. We did not want to enter an arguably already saturated market with alternative options to the typical Escape Room model. Something inside us was resistant to even calling our business an Escape Room. Something inside us resisted the notion of scaring others with props. Like any business owner, we wanted our values, our signature creativity, and our personality to come through in everything from our marketing to our finished product. We asked the question many times; "What will we offer that isn't already established?" So we set out from the beginning to remix the basics! Here are ten key focus points that set FOX-N-OTTER Adventure Puzzle Rooms apart from our competitors and partners:
- Instead of using the notion of being "trapped," "locked-in", "unable to leave" a room, we use a vivid backstory to compel customers to enter into a room and stay!
- We win an "all-ages" crowd by striving for accurate, logical, consistent storyline and prop interaction that is as immersive and cutting edge, as it is classic!
- We bring our combined 40 years of pedagogy and didactic theories of education, teaching, and experiential learning into our storylines and game rooms!
- We build our reputation on the lost-art of customer service and hosting, as much as the destination entertainment value of our Adventure Puzzle Rooms!
- We build our brand slowly with dynamic reviews, word-of-mouth, social-media, and tourism marketing, not dramatic discount structures that risk cheapening our brand!
- We begin our business offering fewer room options, spending more design budget, time, and resources on quality over quantity so that we earn consistently high reviews!
- We structure our room offerings by development and experience level from beginner to enthusiast instead of by theme variety, so that people are matched with their rooms!
- We strategically avoid PTSD, nightmare, and mental health triggering experiences, but maintain adrenaline and fast-paced game experiences through plot development!
- We reflect our bright, charismatic, and joyful personalities in everything from our location, lobby design, marketing tools, and recruiting tactics!
- We reflect our commitment to the local community by designated giving, donating, and commissioning local labor, art, and charitable efforts in education!
You may not agree that these are the fundamentals of business, that they reflect personal values that don't generate income. But consider how they fit so well in the business categories of target demographic, entrepreneurial strengths, strategic brand development, and fiscal responsibility that sees beyond profit margins. We are the next-generation business owners and we don't want a cookie-cutter cash generator with no community footprint. As a local startup business, we didn't inherit prefabricated websites, buy our business plan, or send off for factory-made props and puzzles. We offer non-franchise escape rooms that thrive on ingenuity, unique experiences, excellent customer service and ultimately are very passionate about our Adventure Puzzle Rooms. The best escape rooms in Asheville are for the locals as well as the tourists. Instead of catering just to the seasonal visitors we embrace our community accountability.
FOX-N-OTTER believes we have a unique niche in Asheville Escape Rooms. We were the first escape room in South Asheville, the first escape room to fund a local tutoring initiative, the first to embrace a family-friendly identity, but remain relevant to thrill-seekers! We were the first in Asheville to incorporate "tweens" as designer's so that our puzzle sets would be relevant and familiar to younger ages. We make escape rooms for all ages, leave out the gore, and age-inappropriate themes that kids nightmares revolve around. Instead we create heroes in each group that comes through the door!
We offer a fast-paced game where adrenaline, curiosity, and discovery propel a unique story forward so people aren't standing around confused. With fear-striking themes set aside, we build our reputation on adventure and engagement rather than shock and disgust. We were the first to host birthday parties in a room designed just for kids. We embrace the adolescent demographic and their need for connection. Most escape rooms leave them behind and don't acknowledge their thirst and desire for adventure, and seek college students looking for an advanced haunted house. Ultimately we wanted a venue that could unapologetically host parents and their children and still host thrill-seeking group dates with the same level of success.
Having a group enter into a room, move through a series of puzzles and locks to uncover an exit is a worldwide gaming trend. We see FOX-N-OTTER as pioneering new territory outside of downtown, new demographics outside of adults, and a role on the community giving back toward education needs. We remain inspired by those that have gone before us and continue to refer our patrons to Escape Rooms we consider partners that share our passion for excellence!