Escape Rooms, Axe Throwing, VR Arcade, Spin Art Studio. Pros And Cons.
I wanted to share my experience as the owner of these new types of entertainment activities for families, friends and co-workers. Can you believe that 10 years ago, escape rooms, axe throwing, VR arcades and spin-art studios were non-existent? But now, we are at the forefront of a new era of unique entertainment. I hope you find this as exciting as I do.
ESCAPE ROOMS "CONUNDROOM"
In 2015, I opened my first escape room business with my brother in Redmond, WA. Today, we have a total of 10 unique adventures to offer. I strive to provide a wide variety of gameplay and game design in my rooms. From classic linear and parallel puzzles, to arcade-style escape rooms where all puzzles are parallel, to an adventure for couples with a super high-tech puzzle box as the main part of the game, to competitive escape rooms for two groups, to escape rooms for kids and even outdoor adventure.
Here are my main pros and cons for owning an escape room business after 8 years:
- It's incredibly fun to design, build and own escape rooms.
- Escape rooms are a popular and well-known form of entertainment, but there are still many people who have never tried one.
- The business has low cost of consumables and resupplies.
- The escape room industry has a lack of direct competition among businesses.
- The business has a high profit margin.
- It can be difficult and expensive to create a competitive escape room in the popular market of 2023.
- The business requires a lot of service and immediate repairs, as a malfunction in one part of the game can ruin the overall experience.
- The experience is not repeatable, as most customers will only return for new adventures. This is why I am constantly opening more and more rooms.
VR Arcade “Odyssey VR”
I opened my VR arcade, "Odyssey VR," in 2016 as a huge VR enthusiast. I had always dreamed of opening a VR arcade and decided to diversify my business by offering something new and unique to my customers. However, after 6 years and 3 major updates of PCs and headsets, I ended up selling the arcade last year. While it was a good idea to diversify, I made a huge mistake at the beginning which proved difficult to fix over the years.
- You can run a variety of different experiences in the same space. For example, ERs from ARVI or Ubisoft, arcade games with Synthesis VR software. The possibilities are endless and I can assure you that ERs from ARVI are incredibly fun and well-made.
- If the system is running without issues, it requires minimal maintenance. It was quite boring to run sessions in VR arcade, as all I had to do was click the "start" button and then I could spend the next hour browsing Facebook.
- The setup is relatively simple, as it only requires computers and headsets. It's easy to assemble in the space.
- Troubleshooting was a major issue for our VR arcade. It was incredibly frustrating and draining to constantly deal with random software problems and trying to understand and fix them, such as unexpected controller disconnections or games that suddenly stopped working.
- Motion sickness was an issue for some customers. Although it is a personal preference, we had some customers who experienced extreme motion sickness during their VR experiences.
- The target audience for VR arcades is not as wide as that of traditional escape rooms. Not everyone is interested in trying VR and we had groups who expected a traditional escape room experience and were disappointed when they arrived. However, those who did try it generally enjoyed it.
- Our main reason for selling the VR arcade business was the lack of space in our office and the need for experiences staff to constantly troubleshoot issues. Despite the fun and unique experiences offered by VR, the technical difficulties and space constraints made it challenging to maintain the business.
As a business that already offers escape rooms and VR arcade, we are always looking for ways to diversify and offer something new to our customers. One option we are considering is incorporating a physical activity, specifically axe throwing. We believe it would be a great addition to our offerings as it appeals to a wide range of customers and is relatively easy to manage. Additionally, we can also consider other physical activities such as archery, knife throwing, and crossbow to complement our axe throwing offering.
- It is a highly entertaining and enjoyable experience that is easy for customers to understand and participate in.
- It can accommodate a large number of customers at one time.
- With the right staff, it can be relatively simple to run and maintain.
- Axe throwing is relatively straightforward to construct, such as rows for customers to throw from and targets, and with the help of a skilled framer it can be easy to set up. Training good axe masters could be more complicated,
- The activity can be quite loud and may require a standalone building or a space with good soundproofing.
- While the activity can be potentially dangerous, it is not as dangerous as other activities such as jumping centers or bowling alleys. It is important to note that incidents such as the one depicted in a TikTok video where an axe bounces back to a person's face are rare, and are usually caused by using improper equipment such as axes with rubber handles or rubber flooring.
- Insurance costs can be high, with an estimated cost of around $1,000 per month.
- Consumable materials such as cottonwood for targets will need to be regularly replaced, with an estimated usage of around 500lbs of wood boards per month.
SPIN ART STUDIO "ART CHAOS"
Then we decided to experiment with creating an entertaining art experience. By pouring paint onto a canvas and spinning it on a spinning station, patrons are able to create unique abstract masterpieces. The studio has been earning positive reviews at a faster rate than any of our other businesses. Both adults and children enjoy the experience and profits are good, but there is still room for growth.
- No artistic skill is required to create your own art.
- The process is extremely fun for all ages and provides an opportunity to make a mess that can't be made at home.
- The business has a very good margin and potential for upselling, with an average price of $45 per customer.
- The experience is fully self-driving and can be handled by one employee on weekdays and two on weekends. Customers mostly entertain themselves and the employee only shows new tools and techniques.
- The studio can be very dirty as customers are allowed to make a mess and not clean it up. It requires a space that can handle this level of messiness.
- There are a lot of consumables, such as 450-500 canvases per month and 100 gallons of paint per month, which need to be tracked and restocked regularly.
- There are a lot of details and nuances to consider, such as how to engineer and build the best spin art station and how to deliver paint to customers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope you found the information provided to be both interesting and useful. Of course, if you want to support me you can always buy my book about escape rooms business, but no pressure here. I just love to share my experience anyway.