It goes without saying that the pandemic was a rollercoaster for all industries. Amid lockdowns and recessions, many establishments in the entertainment space have had to pause and rethink their operations — and escape rooms were no exception.
Fortunately, as cities return to normalcy, the global escape room market is predicted to make a steady comeback from 2021-2026. Now more than ever, people are looking for exciting, worthwhile experiences outside their typical day-to-day.
If you want to have a successful escape room business, now’s definitely the time to prepare and adapt to the current trends. After all, beyond all the doom and gloom of the pandemic, it’s also a new opportunity to find innovative ways to bring value to your escape room target market.
That said, let’s talk about some of the most popular escape room market trends today, and how you can make the most of them in 2022.
VR escape games
The concept of Virtual Reality (VR) isn’t new, but it has come a long way from a niche corner at arcades to a tool that’s disrupting multiple sectors. We see it in educators using VR for training purposes, retailers using virtual clothes-fitting apps, and even Facebook’s ambitious shift to the Metaverse.
Unsurprisingly, VR and the escape room gaming genre are a natural fit. Nowadays, we’ve got several titles like The Room VR: A Dark Matter, Abode 2, and Nevrosa: Escape adapting exciting elements of escape rooms to VR platforms.
When it comes to brick-and-mortar VR escape room businesses, places like Escape Virtuality in New York also use VR to enhance the experience of escape rooms and make it even more immersive — whether they’re transporting visitors to a galaxy on the verge of destruction, or a crashing subway train.
Similarly, 60 Out Escape Rooms in Los Angeles offers a range of VR escape rooms — with themes such as Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Quest, and House of Fear. Indeed, there’s no stopping the rise of VR, and the best part is that it allows you to get more creative with the games you offer. So when mapping out your new escape room business plan, consider investing in VR to take the player experience to the next level.
Immersive escape rooms
You might be thinking that escape rooms are already immersive, but this specific type combines traditional escape rooms with role-playing computer games and even theater. It’s completely non-linear, and the outcomes all depend on the players’ actions.
One example is Quest Room’s Amnesia, which is a comedic thriller game that invites players to solve the mystery of a missing professor. It involves several settings and live actors who interact with the players and direct them to solve puzzles.
Immersive escape rooms are certainly different from your typical escape room business. Since the plots can vary due to their non-linear nature, immersive escape rooms can encourage repeat players who may want to come back to experience other storylines. This is something you can try if you’re struggling to keep your visitors.
However, as you might have guessed, putting up immersive escape rooms also entails more space and manpower to execute — but it could be well worth the costs to build customer loyalty.
Educational escape rooms
Education has evolved beyond modules and lectures, which are proven to be ineffective and dull for students who need a more hands-on, active approach to learning. Enter escape rooms.
In 2016, it was reported that there was a worldwide boom in educational escape rooms, with teachers giving the popular escape room concept an educational twist. Think padlocked boxes that can be opened by decoding verbs, solving math problems, and answering scientific puzzles.
It’s a model that just makes sense, since games are proven to promote engagement, encourage collaboration, and help students sharpen their social skills. Definitely more appealing than a 500-page textbook. Similarly, some companies have also been using escape room-type activities for soft skills training and team building.
One idea you can explore as an escape room business is partnering with schools, student organizations, and companies. You could provide themed educational games and customized packages to cater to their groups. The key thing to remember here is to take advantage of interactivity and gamification in creating a value-adding, fun learning experiences.
Pop-up escape rooms
Also known as a mobile escape room, pop-up escape rooms are portable games that can be set up at any location — be it at a customer’s house, an office, a conference, school fair, or pretty much any other place that can accommodate it.
Companies like Xscape Factor in North Carolina and Super Escape Room already offer these kinds of pop-up rooms, which include all props, clues, puzzles, and gadgets required in the games. It’s a convenient option for big groups and those looking for a customized experience.
If you want to get into the industry but can’t fully invest in a brick-and-mortar space, then a mobile escape room business might be more feasible since it requires less capital.
However, some industry folks claim that these pop-ups fall short of the full escape room experience because of lack of amenities and poor design. Keep that in mind if you decide to try the pop-up model, and be sure to invest in a well-designed setup that people will actually enjoy.
Online escape room bookings
You don’t need us to tell you how huge ecommerce is, and how massive the industry grew even more during the pandemic. From booking doctor’s appointments to buying groceries — people these days do everything online.
Again, escape rooms aren’t exempt from this shift. According to a previous report, over two-thirds of escape room reservations now come from business’ websites. So it’s no longer enough to offer the trendiest games and cutting-edge props for your escape room business; you also need to invest in your website and online presence.
If your site is hard to navigate, lacks important information, or is just plain slow, then you risk losing potential customers who don’t have the patience to wait around.
For starters, you can check out our in-depth guide on The Only Website Tools You Need to Plan, Build, Launch and Grow To Grow Your Escape Room Business. As a core part of your escape room marketing strategy, a fully optimized website ensures that the customer experience is seamless and fuss-free before they even step inside your establishment.
Aside from that, other things you should work on are improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so people actually know you exist, and delivering quality content to stay top-of-mind and sustain interest.
Want to be ahead of escape room marketing trends? Leave it to us at SEO ORB to create a fool-proof, time-tested strategy that will allow you to tap the exact market you want. No more second-guessing — only solutions that work.