assorted paintings on green wall

The pandemic has affected countless business sectors, including the escape room industry. However, as COVID-19 risks recede, the public is more than ever hungry for escape adventures. Escape rooms offer a unique social experience that challenges and excites people. At a time when the global situation can lead to concerns, entering a puzzle room can offer a much-needed sense of escapism. 

Therefore, it comes as a surprise to no one that the escape room sector is booming again. Is an escape room business profitable? There are currently over 2,800 businesses in the U.S. with at least $60,000 in annual revenue. For a single-person business, it can be tricky to make ends meet. However, many owners build their rooms as a side hustle, ensuring they can support their financial needs while the escape room venture grows. So, how do you build a puzzle business that can grow safely?

Prevent costly claims

Escape rooms are not designed to be dangerous. However, in the heat of the moment, players could take unnecessary risks and hurt themselves. Therefore, it is crucial as an escape room owner to protect yourself and avoid facing extra liabilities. For instance, asking every participant to sign a release of liability means players can’t claim money in the event where they get injured through their own fault. 

Additionally, you want to establish clear gaming rules that inform players about:

  • What they can do in the room
  • Whether or not they need to climb or move heavy furniture (typically, they won’t need to do any of that, so let them know from the introduction moment)
  • Which things and actions are prohibited

Address room damages ASAP

An escape room can welcome up to 100 different players in a single day. So, you must be ready to accept that wear and tear will occur more rapidly and frequently than in a traditional business. Therefore, it is essential to review rooms frequently and proceed to essential maintenance tasks as soon as possible. 

Escape room owners also must work hand-in-hand with professional workers for electrical, structural, and even plumbing work. Unless you are qualified and experienced in complex building tasks, it is best to leave these to the experts. Indeed, failure to properly install and connect an electric puzzle could lead to electrocution risks or even damage to the local network. 

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Think outside the box

Some of the most popular themes include:

  • Pirates
  • Zombies
  • Detective/crime
  • Kidnapping (as in a room where the player may be trapped physically and must free themselves before the kidnapper comes back)
  • Money or diamond heist

As these themes are frequently used in escape rooms, they can end up becoming dull and lacking originality. Players who have played a few rooms in the same theme have likely seen the same puzzle several times. Therefore, as an escape room owner, seeking creative themes and angles is crucial, so players will be tempted to drive to your venue. You could try turning a popular theme upside down, such as instead of fighting zombies, the players could be zombies themselves in an I Am Legend-like twist. 

Building a successful and profitable escape room is a labor of love that takes a lot of time and effort. Chances are you won’t hit the road running when you first open your rooms. But avoiding unnecessary costs, looking after your premises, and bringing new ideas to the business can help you make a name for yourself in the long term. 

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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