Word Of Caution About The New “Cash Crop”
Escape Rooms are all the buzz right now…being touted as an easy to operate “Cash Crop.” Everyone is rushing to make a buck off this craze. Escape Room designers are popping up everywhere… seminars as far as the eye can see. Power Players are jockeying for position. But is this the start of a new trend, or just a fad that will fizzle like so many others before it? Even Industry Veterans aren’t quite sure about the staying power of these attractions.
© Alexis Abare and Benjamin Selecky, Haunted Farms of America
Because the barrier to entry is so low for Escape Rooms, the market will become saturated VERY quickly. Most will go out of business in a relatively short period of time. This is the way that these cycles run. There will be some that have great, movie quality sets and advanced puzzles loaded with technology…while others will just throw a bunch of random items into a room, and use remedial clues. An interesting twist is that because the American Escape Room Industry is relatively young, most consumers do not know what a good Escape Room looks like…and what separates it from the hack down the street. It can take a lot of time and also be expensive to educate a market. Do you have the time and money to survive the culling?
IF you intend to add an Escape Room to your Haunted Farm…
Haunted Farms face unique challenges in this regard. You don’t want this attraction to feel like a random addon or an afterthought, but rather an attraction that has a natural fit and feel with your existing farm. Maybe this means it is an Escape Barn, or a Silo instead of a traditional room inside of a house. Consider whether or not this can be integrated into your daytime activities. Maybe a shortened version with a lower ticket price. You can also use historic elements of your farm to create your backstory or puzzle.
Use your existing resources to help keep costs down. We know you have a barn full of old equipment and other items. Look around your farm and find elements to place into your room. Choose your space wisely. Can it be converted into a haunt or other attraction after you decide to stop using the space as an Escape Room? Using existing items from your farm also helps to keep it authentic…not a room built from a bunch of wall panels. Embrace barnboard, tractors, and farm implements!
Haunted Farms have a unique advantage over popup haunts in this regard. If you are running a farm stand with foot traffic, or already hosting private events, parties, or festivals, take full advantage of the opportunity to market to your existing customers. Leverage all of your marketing efforts to make customers aware of your new product. Offer special deals and incentives to your loyal customers. They might reward you by spending their hard earned dollars.
Escape Rooms are NOT a Haunted Attraction. Do you know what your customers want? Make sure your customers know what to expect. Leverage all of your existing marketing efforts to make customers aware of your new product. Haunted Farms have a unique advantage over popup haunts because of their existing customer base. If you are running a farm stand with foot traffic, or already hosting private events, parties, or festivals, take full advantage of the opportunity to market to your customers. Offer special deals and incentives to your loyal customers. They will reward you by spending their hard earned dollars.
The frenzy around Escape Rooms is not uncommon at all. With any new and exciting product…no one wants to be late to the party…even if that party has no proven track record. So inevitably, there is a huge influx of startups all competing for dollars from the same pool of people. But where are the voices of caution? We hope that this post gave you a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to jump on the wagon.
Our advice: focus on your core business and exercise caution when deciding whether or not to add a trendy or expensive attraction to your Agritainment portfolio. Niche markets don’t always have lasting power (think frozen yogurt shops of the 90s, or even raising EMUs as the next big livestock boom). What works for an indoor haunted attraction may not work for your farm. Be honest with yourself about the realistic market demand for any new product, and if your business could use the funding in another location.
Whether or not the Escape Rooms are a fad remains to be seen. Only time will tell, and hindsight is always 20/20.