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How to open an escape room
at the good place?
(time of reading 6 min)
Choosing an appropriate venue is a very important step in creating your very own escape room. It affects your budget significantly (both investment and operational), as well as customers' flow and their experience, which, in turn, affects your marketing policy and income. We will try to provide you with the tips how to choose a good one.
Finding an appropriate venue
The minimum space for an escape room is 35-40 m² (10-15 m² should be reserved for reception/administration and welcome/lounge zone, the rest is the room itself), 60+ m² is alright in case you plan to host big teams and corporate games, so it could be said that the space of the venue largely depends on your game format.

You have to check the availability of electricity and water supply, as well as the opportunity to develop an Internet connection, if there is not one yet. You have also to be aware that usually a renovation (at least cosmetic) is required and that the venue should match the fire safety regulations. As we mentioned earlier in our article on budget planning (сюда можем ссылку вставить), renovation expenses should be included in your business plan.

There is no point in putting your ER in the middle of pedestrian traffic like a diner or a restaurant – people usually plan visiting an ER beforehand, so much more important is the availability of a parking lot or a subway/bus station nearby, as well as any other means of public transportation. If possible, try to avoid venues located in residential buildings, because you risk facing an unstoppable wave of complaints from 'concerned citizens' based on various reasons – usually they are noise complaints. There is also a point in trying to find a venue in a district where there are not any rivals (especially in small markets) but there are other entertainment facilities.
Pro-tip: You can use different estate for the purpose of building an escape room – it might be a place at the mall, in an office building or even a garage depending on the concept of your ER. Sometimes the available estate dictates the concept of the room – i.e. 'abandoned factory' (which also allows you to discard at least a part of the renovation expenses in such case).
Lease and its details
You would be able to sign the lease papers as soon as you create the legal entity to run your business. The duration of the lease contract can vary, but usually it starts from one year (which includes some deposit payments). While negotiating the price, take into account which factors could lower the price – and is it worth it.

Those factors are:

  • Transport availability (including parking);

  • The venue condition (including such little things like are there any windows – your escape room basically does not need those);

  • Nearby infrastructure (shops, restaurants and other entertainment facilities);

  • The district status – it is questionable to open your escape room in a problem area of the city (which is considered to be criminal, for example) only because the lease contract allows you to save some part of your budget.
Renovation
Please consider the fact that the renovation is usually needed, but it could be used as an argument to lower the lease price, as you are investing in owner's property. It is also very important to remember that in most countries any capital renovation (i.e. destroying one of the walls of the venue or installing new ventilation system) needs authorities' approval.

The renovation process can take a lot of stages, including new ventilation and toilet rooms, new floors and ceilings, painting the walls etc. as well as some big rearrangements. You have to include each of those in a stand-alone section of your business plan covering the renovation.
Pro-tip: it is usually better to start with two or more escape rooms at the same location if your budget allows that. The reason is that your operational costs will stay roughly the same, while the profit will increase significantly. It does increase the investment budget but in the long run such a move definitely pays off.
It also allows you to broaden your potential audience, for example opening an escape room aimed at children and families alongside an adventure one. You can plan expanding your business in advance – for example, if your budget allows that, try to find an affordable venue that is suitable for two rooms at least with a possible perspective of increasing the number of ERs to four or more.
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