Not all Escape Rooms are Created Equal

By Thomas Dunagan

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Having nearly hit the two-month mark since opening I am continuing to learn and understand many things in this industry. One thought I keep struggling to shake is the fragility of the industry due to the polarizing difference of experiences that escape room companies provide. What I mean by that is there are several companies that are creating incredible mind-blowing experiences that leave their guests talking for hours and sometimes days after their experience. While on the other hand, there are companies that provide guests with an enjoyable experience that may have been fun at best but more often than not just a mediocre 60 minutes of “something we tried out one time”.

I would say 80% of the guests that have played our escape room have never played one prior to us. I imagine this is true for all companies in the industry. The escape room industry while growing incredibly fast in America, is still very new to most clientele. This is what worries me. Because most guests have never played an escape room, and if their first experience is just average, then they see no reason to ever go back to experience another escape room again. So many escape room companies have popped up hoping for a cash grab opportunity. There lies no passion in their creation or even the industry as a whole. I’m sure you can tell when you walk into any business how little that business seems to care about their customer. It bothers me so often when I see poor customer service in so many industries today.

One of my favorite things to do is talk to experienced escape room customers about their previous endeavors. When I talk to people who have played an escape room or two and don’t recall the name of the company or even the theme of the room they played. So my thoughts turn to “was it not that great of a room?” or “did the name of the company just not settle in for them?”. Now I never started this business thinking I would become the greatest company in the world. I did however believe that I would become a staple entertainment location in the North Georgia area with the possibility of opening more locations down the road. So how do begin to make The Lost Room a household name? How do I ensure my guests remember that shocking moment when they find the Master Key?

None of this is going to happen overnight. As of now I’m almost a one man show developing/designing/constructing/operating an escape room company. Now I do have the support of some friends and family and that is absolutely pivotal in my success in getting me to where I am at this point. Yet in the end so much falls directly into my own hands and responsibilities to where I try and navigate this ship. If this fails it fails because of me. Fortunately, with what little I have done to really market the company, I am confident I have created an amazing product in the first room I designed. Setting the bar so high has only challenged me to create a completely different but just as incredible experience in my future escape adventures.

In the beginning of August, I’m heading back to the same escape room conference I attended last year. I’m hoping to get even more insight into where the industry as a whole is headed and hopefully have a better idea of the things I need to do to continue creating unbelievable experiences. Here is my prediction: I think the escape industry will continue to swell the next few years and then it will implode. The market will be over-saturated with escape room businesses that you will see many start to struggle. This is where I believe the best will be the only ones to thrive. The best rooms, the best customer service, and the best value. My goal, my victory, my passion is for guests to have an incredible experience during their time with us. If they walk away feeling like they didn’t have an amazing experience I failed at doing my job.

Reviews from our guests are very important to me. I always get a ton of feedback from guests during my debrief time after they have played our room. But being a little proud at what I created I wanted to share some of the reviews we’ve had publicly posted on our travel and social media sites:

“We had an awesome time! As a group, this was our fourth escape room and it was the best!”

“This is the best escape room I’ve done so far! The gentleman who created this room clearly put so much innovation and thought into the puzzles which made it so much fun for our group!”

“Our family loves to do Escape Rooms when we get together and this was definitely one of our favorites! The kids are teenagers and said it was probably one of the best ones we’ve done. The staff was wonderful and made it even more fun!”

“The room was well thought out and the people working there were SO friendly. The room was full of surprises and was just the right amount of challenge to solve. This was my first escape room, but the rest of our group had done several before and we all agreed that this was the best.”

“I’ve been to a lot of escape rooms in multiple states, but this by far was the most entertaining and challenging I have encountered! I highly recommend it!!!!!”

“HIGHLY RECOMMEND! We were in town from Omaha and have done a few other escape rooms, but this was tops all of those! Try it out!”