Escape Games Market Overview (with Bonus Tips for Success)
This is a guest post by Cedric Lopez, our Head of International Sales
Escape Games Market Overview
An escape room, also known as an “escape game“, is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms. Those adventurous games became popular early in 2010 and since then started to spread all over the world. According to recent data, there are over 3,000 escape games in Europe and around 14,000 worldwide.
Escape games took off but the market is getting more stabilized and mature rather than growing exponentially.
In some cities, especially capitals, the amount of rooms is getting very high, which makes this market more and more competitive. In general, it is now more difficult to launch new ones, but also to grow and maintain existing games. The main issues we noticed given all our talks we had at Upthegame conference in Breda Netherlands are as follows:
Price competitiveness: the more competition you have, the more your pricing usually goes down. However, making a lower quality room to decrease your price is not always the solution to differentiate your experience from your competitors. As some of the escape games said, it’s required sometimes to increase even the price to benefit from more margin and compensate for the decrease of bookings due to competition. The pricing elasticity in this sector is quite important and interesting. You won’t necessarily choose a room in Paris because it’s 10€ cheaper, you will be more appealed by the theme, availability, and reviews.
Plus, higher pricing can have „more-quality“ cognitive effect on your customers.
Marketing expenses: more games around you means also growing customer acquisition cost. You need to reinforce your marketing and make sure you meet the demands. We can see this effect mainly when it comes to the cost per click from your Adwords campaigns. For some keywords such as Escape game + name of your city, you probably saw a cost that was higher than 2, 3 years ago.
How to differentiate in a saturated market?
Be more innovative: It’s required to spice your experience up and diversify your offer. Some escape game owners are opening VR games, mobile and outdoor games. Since the escape game is a one-time-thing, it becomes important to release new themes, new activities, and ways to experience. One thing could be for example to launch once a month an event game in the city. Some companies are offering some exit kit in a box with accessories to design a game wherever you want in 10 minutes.
Best Quality, Not The Key: it’s required to get a wow effect and make your clients happy. However, it doesn’t mean you need to increase significantly your investment by creating high-class rooms. The customers will remember how you treated them, how friendly you were and globally the theme and puzzles they went through – not that the decoration was pure marble.
New Channel Development: Escape game was the victim of its success. It was trendy, everyone wanted to try and everyone was talking about it. Therefore Escape room owners stayed in their comfort zone and focused on only one channel – B2C. To be more precise, the main and unique revenue stream for some of the providers was direct end-consumer sales with a strong online share.
However, given the maturity of the market and the reduced “new-trend” effect, it’s required to innovate also commercially speaking and develop new channels like Business-to-Business (seminars, corporate etc.). Some are doing cold calls to companies, some are less aggressive and sending just newsletters.
B2B can be also online thanks to all e-commerce marketplaces dedicated to leisure activities and new ones even specialized in Escape games. There is one escape game marketplace from Russia for example, who just started.
Furthermore global tour and activity platforms will begin to make bookable rooms like TripAdvisor and its website Viator. TripAdvisor removed website links from profiles to highlight its integrated checkout experience. Thus it won’t be surprising that more and more escape games are available directly out there but also on other sites (GetYourGuide, Musement, Expedia, Ctrip and more).
Local Community: one of the best examples and chat I had the chance to have was with Escape Game Hamburg, who made an entire session on how to create a community. You have to create your own community and make escape game live in your city. Feel free to throw meetups of fans to understand more their profiles and develop retention. Organize outdoor games and other get-together events to make your product famous and build your brand.
Keep an Eye on your Online Conversion: Escape game is, as you know, an online booking segment of the leisure industry. Every individual does book online and on your website. That’s why it is important to track correctly your visitors as well as your funnel. A number of tools are at your disposal now: Mixpanel, Google Analytics (the most used), Kissmetrics and many other. You want to make sure you won’t miss any bookings because you have an issue somewhere in the funnel.
Search Engine Optimization, Not New I know: The SEO will be more than ever the best long-term investment of an escape game. I just talked to someone who made a huge mistake by changing all keywords on the content of his site. The company was not anymore visible for one series of words driving most of his traffic. So pay attention to the basis and your structure (<h1>, meta tags etc.) and don’t hesitate to hire a good Freelancer or Consultant to help you out. Furthermore, read, read and read; keep yourself updated about new algorithm changes from Google. In case you need expert help, reach out to our marketing team.
Create Your Brand: To finish, one of the most important things I noticed for your success growth mix is to develop a great and memorable brand. You should make sure to create awareness on who you are. Which is why Reviews are not solely important for SEO, but also to streamline a good word of mouth effect. Same with blog articles. An excellent best practice is to ask bloggers that you would consider as influencers to invite them for free to play your games. In exchange, they write about your experience and hopefully in a good manner. It can be an important source of traffic, affordable marketing channel and it makes your brand known.
The bottom line is that Escape game is not anymore just a trend. It has become a real market in the leisure industry – and a profitable one. You don’t have to explain what an exit game is, given the fact it reached the mature phase of its market growth. Which means that the innovation needs to play a good role in terms of product development like VR integration, mobile escape or outdoor ones, as well as commercially with the development of new channels.
I am very excited to see what the next 2, 3 years will bring us and how this trend will evolve and how globally the indoor activity market will be innovative. New experiences are popping up, new ways to sell them will arrive as well as new players in the eco-system (game designer, gamification tools, production dedicated companies).
Can’t wait, feel free to comment and happy to carry on this conversation on other platforms as well.