Secret Expectations for Escape Rooms

Whether you are a franchise or create all your own storylines and props, there are a few unspoken rules that directly relate to your success.  These are secret expectations everyone else has for you.  You can discover them on your own, but why face the frustration?  We are going to share them right here!

  1.  Be the host.  Be the reason people love your establishment.  They say the current generation of business owners have to “be their brand”.  It doesn’t matter if your Escape Room operates like a high-tech haunted house, or if you are creating an attraction for toddlers, people expect customer service.  They don’t just want to experience the art and craft of your escape rooms.  Of course they pay good money to enjoy the entertainment at your venue, but they want more than just a good time in your rooms.  They want to be catered to.  They want to be greeted, have the awkwardness of the initial sign-in routine led with confidence.  As basic as it seems, use their name whenever possible without being creepy.  Weave it into the clues you give them.  Make them feel like they are getting a custom experience.  Since they are about to trust you through an entire game and be led by you on monitors, over loudspeaker, look them in the eyes when you greet them and show them that they can trust you.


2.  Clean up your act!  Make a cleaning schedule and build it into your routine.  If you have are the only staff,      or if you employ dozens, work cleaning into the daily operations.  Nobody wants to get sick at your place, that should be no secret!    Disinfect every lock, doorknob, shelf, prop, handle, switch, and button.  Think about it people explore things with their hands, they touch all surfaces of the things they inspect.  By necessity you require they touch the same things, game after game.  They cough, sneeze, and laugh their germs all over your props and locks.  Nervous people put their hands in their mouths, and by anxiety-driven habits, they touch their faces more.  Some escape rooms are designed to look dirty, but are actually very clean.  You can have a post-apocalypse filthy kitchen where everything is stained, and looks disgusting, but nothing is sticky, dirty, or actually gross.  The secret key is to make it look how you want, but have it remain sanitary.  One great thing we have seen an Escape Room do is to use hand sanitizer when they want to create a “wet” feeling.  That way as people put their hands into the gross goo to get the key, they actually are cleaning their hands.


3.  Don’t rush the ending!  Escape Rooms are fine tuned for turnover, and cycling groups through efficiently is key to revenue.  But the secret to a good customer flow and room reset is found in how the ending unfolds for the exiting group.  It is important at the end of each group experience for the team to have enough time to debrief and express their feelings to the host.  They will continue to talk and revel at their experience when they leave, and you should encourage them to take that banter online, but before they leave, you should ask them what they enjoyed the most, let them burst and gush with their feelings for a bit before shuffling them silently through the lobby avoiding spoilers.  Consistent feedback is showing that people don’t want to be rushed out.  Consider creating a debriefing space that is safe to share loudly.  Work into your schedule debriefing time where the host and the floorspace is not crowded or rushed into accommodating the next group.  This is also a great way to help people feel heard so that you do not end up with a bad review, express empathy and consider revisions so that they know you care.


In the end, everyone has these secret expectations for Escape Rooms.  People want to be treated to a custom experience, they want it to look and feel real, but they don’t want to get sick because the place is so dirty, and when they explode with excitement about their success or failure, give them the space and time to process that in your establishment.  If you don’t do these things — you may quickly find yourself with a reputation that is stale, filthy, and hurried.