ERIC: Things we’re taking away.
This year the Escape Rooms Industry Conference was held at the CEME in London and it pulled together some of the industry’s best to speak; with them our own Eszter Kovacs, manager and one of the longest running Game Masters that we, at Escape Rooms, have. For those who didn’t get a chance to make it to ERIC this year or you’re looking to open an escape room, you might need some of this information. So we thought we’d share our highlights and best bits and tips from throughout the two days. We’ll break it up into sections for you.
Marketing is tough on everyone, but here are a few things we learnt about it:
Google is important, whether it be pay-per-click or search engine optimization. If you get Google right, you’ll usually be on the right track to getting everything else right. But how can you get Google right?
1) Update your website at least once a week; whether through a blog post or a live social media broadcast. This shows that your website is still active and valid. When you update often, Google will place more trust, shall we say, in you and your company and will bring you up in the searches. This might take a couple months for you to start seeing an improvement in your bookings.
2) With Pay-Per-Click, you need to be working in two different ranges. So for us, we could put in an ad under the phrasing ‘Escape Rooms London Bridge,’ which would come up if anyone types in Escape Rooms London Bridge from anywhere nationwide. We would also bid on ‘Escape Rooms near me’ and make the distance for this smaller, just for those searching near us. You may find that other Escape Rooms are bidding on your name, making themselves turn up before your website in ad form but paying to do so.
Building and joining a community is important for marketing. Make your workplace a community rather than a workplace. Customers appreciate knowing faces behind words. The culture of your company is also incredibly important. Anything you’re putting out needs to be on brand, and that includes with customers face to face. Staff need to be trained on how to present your company. Oh, and connect with the other escape rooms around you, do game swaps and advice on games. Especially if you’re new to the business; you want the opinions of those who know what they’re talking about.
Tips for Game Masters:
1) Be careful on how you’re phrasing your sentences. ‘You still have 5 minutes left,’ is a lot different to ‘You only have 5 minutes left,’ and will drastically change the relationship that you have with your team. There’s also a fine line between sassy and rude.
2) Never ask whether they enjoyed the game after the game. It’s an awkward situation and they’re not going to lie to your face about it.
3) If you need to enter the game for any reason, make it a character. A lock is broken? You’re a locksmith.
4) Make your introductions specific. If a team has played 6,000,000 games before, they probably don’t need to know how to operate padlocks but if you’re saying something to build a rapport with a team, its okay to make a joke like ‘There’s nothing under the wallpaper! Please don’t try and redecorate!’ If a team has never played before, being more attentive with what exactly is about to happen is a good idea. Adaptability is 100% needed.
1) Don’t use red herrings. A door with a handle but no hinges still leads teams to believe it opens as there’s something to pull on. A door with hinges and no handle? A nice surprise if it does open but not necessary to hide anything behind it.
2) Make the puzzles logical. If every time the game is played, the teams need to be told by a game master what they need to do, you should adapt that puzzle.
3) When building your first Escape Room, outsourcing materials and puzzles is vital. It may be more expensive to do this to begin with but will save you money in the long run and will also mean you can focus on other things.
4) Decide your concept first. If you’re buying props and gadgets because they’re interesting but not relevant than you might struggle to decide on a theme to connect them. If you decide your concept first, your story, then the items and elements that you buy will likely fit into the game more easily.
5) Make sure that everything is thematically relevant. If you’ve designed a medieval magic game, then you probably shouldn’t have a computer in the game or standard lighting. Instead, think lights shaped like candles or magic orbs.
These are just a few of the things we managed to pick up after a brilliant two days at the ERIC conference that we thought might be helpful for others out there! We’d also like to extend thanks to the organizers, speakers and volunteers who took their time to bring as many people together as possible. It was wonderful to have been a part of it.
See you again next year!