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10 mistakes to avoid when choosing an escape room venue
(time of reading 8 min)

Renting a perfect venue is one of the keys to successful escape room business. And while some of the criteria are quite obvious, certain things may come under the radar if you are new to this business. Just use this checklist and make sure you don't fall into any one of this caveats. So here is the list of the stuff to consider, while choosing the escape room venue:
1. Fire security
Any sort of fire-related issue is obviously one of the worst nightmares for the owner of any kind of business. For escape rooms, where people are locked in narrow space is an industry standard, even the minor incident can lead to serious consequences if not accounted for. You can set the sprinklers and fire extinguishers during the construction, but super-narrow passages, not enough fire exits per square feet, fire exits blocked beyond fixing (I've once seen "fire exit" leading to balcony, where you can only jump from - third floor) - any of these is an immediate hard pass.
2. Noise permits
First of all - some buildings, areas, and venues are just not fit for any sort of activity, which can be as noisy as an escape room. Even if the place is potentially suitable, that does not mean no further research is to be done. In some countries, you will need to receive specific noise permits. It also helps to know beforehand who are the neighbors. Apartments or offices above (if any)? Any noise complaints in the past? Any potential distractions for your business?
3. Re-planning permits
Secret passages and chambers are almost essential for up-to-date escape room experience. How is your potential landlord feeling about adding wall/doorways/wiring etc? How does the city/council/marshal/whoever in charge feels about the kind of replanning you are considering? In some cases, you might need sort of neighbors permits for this type of work - laws, and regulations differ significantly from country to country (and sometimes from state to state), so there is no all-purpose advice expect "know your local rules". So yes, make sure you know the local rules.
4. 220V/110V wiring
Does it exist and work properly? Some premices can be cheap and really lucrative and while you will most probably have to refurbish the place anyway, there is a huge difference between having to make initial wiring from scratch or you'll get that already covered. If you will somehow have access to the guys who managed to take care of electricity in this venue before - that would be brilliant (as he would know all caveats there)
5. Pipes
That's always a disaster waiting to happen. Make sure you check water, WC, etc. Any signs of leaks? Any signs of leaks from above? Any single incident involving the pipes can completely destroy most of your electronics, so if it looks at least partly suspicious - better do the double-check or just simply switch to another place.
6. Humidity
Can be a non-factor in some countries/states, but you'll never know. In, let's say, Florida that can definitely ruin your electronics in a couple of months if not accounted for. If the basement feels refreshingly cool on a hot day outside, there is a good chance it will be painfully wet inside on a cold rainy day.
7. Wheelchair access
Not exactly bodes well with crawling and elaborated secret passages you might want in an escape room, but rooms can change, while the existence of wheelchair access for the whole building usually does not. No matter how you envision gameplay of your future escape rooms now, it's better to have that kind of access anyway.
8. Neighborhood
If your business plan does not support the cost of the venue in the shining city center, please make sure the customers (at least) are not afraid to visit the area you are located in. Just making sure it's not too shady
9. State of the venue
Good looking venues cost more, completely trashed are way cheaper but will require more investment upfront. So even if the price per month looks lucrative, it's crucial to understand how much money will this place soak before your business launches.

Do you have the necessary amount or massive renovation can leave you empty-handed before opening? Venues which require a lot of effort usually can come with sort of rental holidays or agreement to subtract the renovation costs from the rental bills - make sure you'll have either one or the other if aiming for such a venue.
10. Too small
The first room is usually enough to cover the bills, while the second (third etc) is usually where you start getting your investments back and generate some profit. It may look like a good idea to start your business in a small venue, good enough to fit one escape room, but that potentially leads to quite unpleasant chronic pains in not so distant future.

Once you will decide to expand - the initial let's-save-a-few-dollars decision will quickly backlash. Rent for 2 small places is normally higher than 1 double of their size.

The staff which will be enough to operate 1 venue with 2 rooms will not be enough to handle 2 separate one (even if located on the same street). Each and every piece of logistics will be double that complicated and nearly double that expensive.

Of course, if you can secure the opportunity to up-rent more space in the same building/adjacent units - that's a good way to growth. But if venues are not exactly connected into one piece, that will cost you more and more as your business grows.

Long story short, many of these points apply to the rental of any commercial space in general, though some refer to specific things related to escape room you need to keep in mind.

Remember that every lucrative proposal on a real estate market may have its own caveats. It's usually better to double-check and overreact, rather than committing long-term to a place which will be a sinkhole.

Better safe than sorry, right?

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