Part game, part team-building exercise, escape rooms are taking off around the world. The number of permanent rooms world-wide has gone from zero at the outset of 2010 to at least 2,800 today, and the growth seems to be explosive.
The idea is simple. A client and 10 other people are locked in a room. Words, numbers and pictures are scrawled on the walls, objects scattered. They have only 60 minutes to escape, looking for clues leading to the key that will open the door. In most escape rooms, clues lead to a physical key. But the story of why they’re in the room —they’re seeking lost treasure! they’re trapped in a mysterious lab! they’re stuck in a sized apartment! — and the way in which action unfolds differs by room and location.
An escape room is cerebral experience. It’s exciting. It satisfies peoples who are looking for a new type of experience.
Most games cost $25 to $30 per person for a one-hour game, and typically allow 10 to 12 players at a time. For owners, the chief costs are payroll and rent, plus the one-time expense of building the room out. Some rooms comprise only a table with pens and paper. Others involve elaborate sets and technical wizardry.
If you want to start this business, you don’t need a large sum of money. Most entrepreneurs start with only $10,000 and often recoup their initial investment within a month. But you have to be able to create interest. It’s not so easy. Furthermore, you have to change everything in your rooms every year, or customers will not return again.