It is hard to believe that The Lost Room has been open for a full year but here we are celebrating our one-year anniversary. The journey of this business extends further than the past 365 days but for the past year we have had the amazing opportunity to share our escape adventures with the public.
This past year has not been without its struggles – routine roof repairs that led to recurring flooding, brand new marquee signs blown down 48 hours after being hung, weekends that were discouragingly slow, a global pandemic that forced us to close for two months. Although the journey has been rocky at times, at the end of the day I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to share this industry with others. Despite the struggles and setbacks, I feel blessed to do something that I enjoy.
When I look back on the past year, what stands out most is the incredible guests we have had the honor and pleasure of hosting. Whether it is providing a first escape room experience to a new player or watching experienced players burn through our adventures; seeing our guests “get lost” in their experience motivates me to continue on this journey.
As I look back over the past year, there have been a few types of experiences that stand out as themes for this year.
1. PLAYING MORE ESCAPE ROOMS
As an escape room enthusiast first and an owner second, it has always been important to me to be knowledgeable about the escape room industry. Prior to opening I had played over 50 escape rooms. Over the past year, a few escape room centered vacations have allowed me to double the number of escape rooms I have personally played. Playing escape rooms as an owner helps remind me of the experience I am trying to provide for our guests and provides inspiration for future room development. The best part of playing new rooms and new companies this past year has been the incredible owners and staff I’ve had the opportunity to meet. I have been amazed at the atmosphere of community that exists in some areas. The time taken by many escape room owners to engage in conversation means so much to me. These conversations make me feel a little less crazy for being in this industry and inspire me to continue to provide the best possible experience for each guest. It is always encouraging to dialogue with other like-minded owners who have a true passion for growing the industry and have been open to inside information. (shout out to some of these companies) – Escape Artist (Greenville, SC), Key to Escape (Statesville, NC), Masterpiece Escapes (Indian Trail, NC), Doldricks (Orlando, FL), Escape Ventures (Orlando, FL), The Exit Games Florida (Tampa, FL), Clue Carre (New Orleans, LA)
2. TURNING SKEPTICS INTO ENTHUSIASTS
Most of our guests continue to be first time escape room players. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide new players with their first escape experience. It is my hope and goal that we are providing people with memorable first experiences. Some of my favorite guests are the skeptics that were coerced into this activity by a friend, spouse or child but whose demeanor completely transforms during their escape adventure. It has been fun to meet people as first-time players and see them discover a whole new avenue of entertainment. On the other end of the spectrum, I have been humbled by the kind words and positive reviews we have received from enthusiasts who know the industry, have experienced some of the best rooms available and have come out to play our rooms.
3. REALIZING HOW MUCH MORE THERE IS TO LEARN
From operations, to set design, to low voltage configurations, and to “bullet proofing” rooms; there is a constant struggle to get better. I refuse to settle for mediocrity in our experiences. I hope my designs become better in every way possible; more immersive, more fun, and more creative. As a small operation I hope moving forward into year two we will begin to add quality staff that share a love for the industry as much as I do. Lastly, is continuing to stay connected to our guests as best we can so we know and understand what they want when they visit us.
As I look forward at the future of The Lost Room, I remain committed to maintaining a long-term perspective. I truly believe that if we continue to provide quality rooms and quality customer service that we will continue to grow as a business. For those of you that are fans of The Lost Room, I would like to share some of the things that we have on the horizon that you can join us in looking forward to.
· NEW WEBSITE AND MARKETING MATERIAL
Over the past few months I have contracted with a professional website designer to develop a new website for The Lost Room. This new website will be better optimized for search engines like Google so that we are more easily discovered by people looking for things to do. With the new website we will be updating the overall look and feel of the business. This will include professional photography of our rooms that will better reflect the quality of our product as well as videos that give potential guests a better sense of the immersion and fun found in our adventures.
· NEW BOOKING PLATFORM AND PRICING STRUCTURE
While our current booking platform has been sufficient. We felt there were some areas that made navigation for our guests a bit difficult. So upon roll-out of the new website, we will be implementing a new booking platform and hope that the interface is much more user friendly. We are also going to be migrating to tiered pricing system that is automatically built into place. So if you are a larger group joining us you will already be getting a discounted price instead of having to worry about promo codes or other random discounts to throw into the mix.
Our biggest change we are making is our special rate for active/retired military and first responders. For us, we believe our freedoms and safety are protected both foreign and domestically because of each and every one of these heroes working in such selfless professions. With that, starting July 1st, all active/retired military and first responders are allowed to play at our facility for free. We will require seeing your professional identification to be eligible for this discount.
· NEW ROOM
If you are reading this blog there is a good chance you have already played our existing rooms and I hope you are eagerly awaiting an announcement regarding the next room. Unfortunately, I am not ready to commit to a time frame for the new room but I can promise you there is a new room in the works. As with my first two rooms, this room will provide another completely different experience. The main component of this room will be a “choose your own adventure” element that ideally will make this room re-playable up to three times. With each play through, you will be able to make decisions that change the story arch and available puzzles you encounter. Maybe there is a reason why this has not been tried anywhere else in the industry that I am aware of but I am excited about tackling this challenge and offering a truly unique escape adventure.
Thank you to each and every one of you have been a part of the first year of The Lost Room. Every guest who walks through our door is important to me. I appreciate:
- every game you have played;
- every piece of merchandise bought;
- every kind word you have offered after playing one or both adventures;
- every review left on Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor or Yelp;
- every share of a social media post; every word of support or encouragement.
Thank you for helping keep this dream a reality and I hope this is only the first of many anniversaries and milestone we get to celebrate for The Lost Room.