The customers - what keeps them entertained?
Article by Bill Parslow
Customers - Why?
The customers - what keeps them entertained. It’s always a mystery to me why some people come to Escape Rooms. I guess there is a certain amount of excitement in trying to solve the puzzles. There are those eureka moments when you get the answer. There’s the sense of achievement at the end. The sense of teamwork. All these things are specific to Escape Rooms - their USP you might say.
But when people arrive, most of the time, they don’t know what to expect. Yes you do get the escape room junkies, ones who’ve been bitten by the bug. Mostly though they are either a group of friends celebrating a birthday, a work group or a hen or stag group who literally have no idea what they are about to do.
What you say “bla bla bla important bla bla”, What they hear “_______________________”
There is a whole other blog post to be written about what these people think after they have had your introduction. It is a fact that virtually nothing of what you say to your group will actually be heeded. Zilch. Nada. Possibly they will remember one heavily driven home prohibition: “You see those screens? There is nothing for you behind them except certain ELECTROCUTION and DEATH.” They will seldom remember anything else.
Out of the sitting room and into a group!
But I digress - what do they come for? Well I think it is part of a Zeitgeist where people like doing things together. The old communal activities - drinking yourself silly in a pub (a UK specific pastime, now mainly the daily preserve of serious alcoholics) and organised sports like football- while they still attract some, don’t cut it for the masses.
Being able to do something tangible and pretty accessible with a group of friends is what they are attracted to - and is maybe what they get the most out of. Then the obligatory picture at the end is a digital cementing of the experience they have had together (It’s very important to make this count btw. Memories (and reviews) are made of this).
And this is what they got - a shared experience that they can look back on. It’s a crucial aspect of the Escape Room business model. Most of the pictures show these groups of excited people smiling ecstatically. It’s a breakaway from sitting in your room in front of a laptop. And it gives you something to do other than fiddle with your phone, and that has to be a good thing doesn’t it?
When people come out they are buzzing with excitement - and it’s catching on - that’s why there are so many rooms opening up all over the place. Retro gaming is coming back and Escape Rooms are part of that band wagon too - the idea of actually doing something!
Atmosphere! Worth its weight in 5* reviews
So it brings me back to thinking about how best to run the game. The GM has to be sensitive to the atmosphere of the group. There are some who just will need that tiny bit of facilitation, that little bit of an extra prompt to work together well. Other groups though already have a fantastic dynamic - they are the ones you must leave alone to make their own experience.
Thinking through all this stuff I’ve decided to write some more structured and organised thoughts about running escape rooms, and in particular, Hiring the Best Games Master for your Escape Room, in the form of a free e-course. It’s aimed at people who are fairly new to managing and appointing staff for Escape Rooms. If you’re interested, or think it might be of use click on the link to see the first lesson - it’s all free. As ever all feedback is welcome.