How we develop Escape Rooms for the Hotel, Leisure and Travel Industries

Ben O'Hara

From shows to installations, we create entertainment experiences that connect people. We think unconventionally. We do things differently. We create the unique. We set the stage, the memories are theirs....forever

September 24, 2020

Escape rooms have taken the world by storm. In an industry that is showing no signs of slowing down (pre-C19), they are also very lucrative. Therefore, they must come with a big price tag, surely?

What if we were to tell you that we have developed a pop-up escape room concept, that is ‘theme-park quality’ but doesn’t carry a huge cost. Not only that but the fact that it is almost fully automated also negates the requirement for ongoing operational costs. Would you want to know more?

It’s true that Escape Rooms can be lucrative and with Britain’s biggest hotel chain, Best Western, recently claiming that their ROI for two rooms has been “4-fold”, they remain a very interesting proposition for Hotel, Holiday Park and Leisure Attraction operators. However, if they are to be successful within these organisations, it’s important not to conform to traditions, but rather consider exactly how a quality experience can be delivered, whilst dovetailing with the existing operation.

Here at The Business Creative, we like a challenge. So, a while back we set out to develop a number of pop-up Escape Room concepts, that would be financially and operationally realistic for our clients in the Hotel, Leisure and Travel industry to own and operate within their current set up.

We initially worked with our client TUI on a trial site. This proved successful and has led to our concepts being rolled out in 9 countries worldwide and we’re also operating in Holiday Parks throughout the UK. Here are a few things that we consider make the concepts successful:

 

Available Space

Most traditional escape rooms have more than one room within them (ie you crack the puzzles and move into a second or even third area). This is an unrealistic proposition for most Hotels and Leisure attractions as space is often at a premium. Therefore, the experience needed to be rich and creative enough to be sustained within one space.

Example of a room transformation in a TUI Hotel

Length Of Experience

Most rooms are a minimum of 45min (some far exceed this) which is fine if you’ve taken a day out just to do this. But we felt the focus for guests on holiday or visiting a theme park would be different. It would only form ‘part’ of their day. Therefore, we opted for a 30-minute experience, carefully considering how it would form part of the guest’s day.

Pop-up

We were focussed on creating a fully themed and immersive experience, but without a permanent set and theming fixtures. This is important because these rooms are currently operating in unused hotel bedrooms, offices, courtesy rooms and conference rooms. It’s important that after a modest investment in the set-up of their escape room, hoteliers aren’t left with huge costs to transform the room back to its original use if they wish to do so at any point.

Automation

Automation has been key to our success. Our uber-talented puzzle consultants have created puzzles that are either self-resetting or simply don’t require a reset after use. In line with this, we created bespoke automation software that intuitively guides players through the game, prevents them from getting stuck on any one puzzle, keeps track of their time, score and even asks them to leave the room when the game is over. Automation 1, ongoing staffing costs 0.

Talent

To make the experience immersive, we need to use actors to set the scene and carry the story along. We opted for filming our actors and having the characters appear on screens. The software triggers the relevant video, according to the player’s own journey. This means the experience is always consistent and there’s no need to recruit live actors at a premium cost.

Theme

Choosing the right theme is really important because it can directly impact cost and operation. We decided to work with what we had as a base (ie Hotel rooms, offices etc). Our designers opted for generously theming and disguising the spaces, rather than eating up budgets by trying to totally renovate the rooms. Transforming a hotel bedroom into the Starship Enterprise would definitely result in us out-pricing ourselves.

Of course, not every location has a spare room to dedicate. As a result, we’re now in the final stages of development for a totally flexible, low-investment out-door puzzle-based challenge, set to launch in 30 hotels world-wide this summer, which is perfect for post-C19 entertainment and activities. Look out for our next blog for more details.

If you’d like to learn more about our pop-up Escape Room concepts, out-door challenges or simply have a chat about how we could help you create a unique immersive experience in your business, reach out on the details below and let’s chat.

ben@thebusinesscreative.com

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