How Can Escape Rooms Survive The Covid Crisis?

It makes no doubt that the pandemic has been a challenge for every industry. However, entertainment venues that rely on physical visits have found this period more difficult than others. The Escape room sector took a hit in 2020. As of February 2021, there are 2,080 room facilities in the U.S. It is a 7.5 decrease compared to 2020. The closure rate has, however, remained steady throughout the years. There has not been any alarming increase during the pandemic, which is good news for small businesses. Franchises and chains have benefitted from more generous support than the smaller guys. However, the challenges don’t end just now. Escape room companies that survived the pandemic need to get ready to develop covid-strategies. Indeed, many business experts believe that entertainment companies such as escape rooms will play a significant role in community revival. Players also visit restaurants and shops before and after a game and thus helping local businesses grow. 

1. Sanitizing between every game

Reopening your games to visitors doesn’t eliminate covid risks. Most venues recommend players keep a mask at all times during the game and through the reception area. But you also want to introduce new sanitizing strategies to keep risks to a minimum. Ideally, you need to deep clean the rooms between teams. Fogging is by far the quickest and most effective method. A typical fogging machine will need approximately 20 to 30 minutes, including diffusion and drying. It’s also a good idea to provide hand sanitizers in the reception area and at the entrance of every room. 

2. Avoiding manual puzzles

If you can design a room that doesn’t require a huge amount of physical involvement for the players, you can keep the risks of contagion low. As such, it can be helpful to replace physically involved puzzles with smart, generation 2 designs. These tend to include custom electronics rather than padlocks. As such, you will need to reach out to a professional electronics manufacturer for circuit board design. A custom cc can be controlled with a DIY raspberry pi program with impressive results. 

3. Changing game schedule

Reducing crowding risks inside your venues will avoid accidental spreading and contagion. Escape room owners can cancel public games where strangers play inside the same room. Instead, using private group bookings will ensure players are not exposed to further risks. Additionally, it can be helpful to change your schedule so that every game starts at a different time. Indeed, this will reduce crowd passage in the reception area. It’s important to remember that it takes only one person who is covid positive to expose your business to potential temporary closure risks. Therefore, you don’t want to reduce spreading opportunities on-premises. 

4. Changing cancellation policy

It’s a tough call, but sometimes making it easy to cancel can keep your business afloat. The last thing you want is for a player who has developed potential covid symptoms to attend the game. Covid cancellations need to be introduced to protect players and game operators. You can offer a full refund or an easy rescheduling option for players who wish to cancel for health reasons. 

Making escape rooms safer for players can help revive city businesses. Escape rooms encourage teams to travel to city centers and spend quality time in town. The retail and hospitality sectors can hugely benefit from the safe reopening of escape rooms.

5. Increase the revenue per guest

Admission does not have to be the only source of revenue for escape rooms. Gift shops can significantly increase the revenue per guest, yet they remain an under-utilized profit center. Many escape rooms limit their offerings to t-shirts and wooden puzzles.

As Covid restrictions unwind, escape room operators need to find more gift items that not only align with their business but move the revenue needle. Escape Notice Games, a publisher of in-home escape room-style games, works with room operators to find solutions. “A Phoenix-based escape room that sells our games also built a gift shop that showcases the merchandise to exiting players,” said Lisa Shaw with Escape Notice Games. “He is making $25 profit on every game, and he is selling a lot of them.”

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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