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Escape room

Escape Room Pricing: Private vs Public Rooms

If you're thinking of starting an escape room business, then there are a thousand and one things to think about. Apart from the location, one problem that will constantly be at the back of your mind, is whether you hit the pricing range...
2020.12.18.

If you're thinking of starting an escape room business, then there are a thousand and one things to think about. Apart from the location, one problem that will constantly be at the back of your mind, is whether you hit the pricing range. Once you've opened the doors, it can be tricky to either raise or lower the price because you made a wrong call. Nothing will keep you awake at night more than tumbling the pricing structure around your head. 

From a logical point of view, there are two ways to determine the price you should be changing. one is called "Cost Plus" and the other is known as "Value-Based" pricing. 

The Cost Plus strategy takes all your overheads and running costs like building rental, taxes, and employee wages, and then adds a little onto the top to make a profit. It's a great strategy for those business owners who want to keep the prices relatively low, whilst still maintaining a profit.

A Value-Based strategy looks around at the competition and the perceived value of your brand. For example, if you look at other escape room games in your area and see that the prices are $25 per ticket. Then you might consider your gaming experience to be superior and, along with your higher brand recognition, will think that charging $30 per ticket is fair.

Public, Private, or Hybrid?

This is probably the hottest topic when it comes down to escape room pricing. Public vs private pricing can quickly become a huge headache. There's an ongoing debate as to whether an escape room business should allow customers to book a public room, private rooms, or a mixture, which we'll refer to as "hybrid" rooms. Or should you leave it up to the players to decide for themselves?

Public Pricing

This boils down to whether the customers are happy playing with strangers. The idea of a public room is that players can book at any time providing the maximum number of players allowed isn't reached. Here's the rub; if the customers don't purchase the total room capacity, then they could be joined by strangers to make up the numbers. 

Pros: 

Will fill up the rooms more efficiently, especially during peak hours.

More easily affordable for smaller groups.

Will allows smaller groups to play games that normally require a higher number of players.

Some people like playing with strangers.

Cons: 

Under-filled rooms are a waste of money.

Rooms without enough players may be canceled, which is a bad customer experience.

Some people don't like playing with strangers.

Some players assume that rooms are private. They can be disappointed or angry to learn they have to play with another group.

Private Pricing

Regardless of the number of players, escape rooms that offer private rooms require that the group pays for the entire room,

Pros: 

Guaranteed high value for each booking.
Not necessary to cancel bookings for under-filled rooms.

This allows small groups to play by themselves.

It avoids the risk of bad customer experiences from sharing with strangers.

Cons: 

It could lead leading to fewer bookings. By requiring all groups to book the entire room this may make the cost higher for individual guests. 

Depending on the ticket price and the number of customers, a full public room might make more revenue than a private room.
Small groups cannot play in rooms or puzzles that require a minimum number of players.

Hybrid Pricing

Essentially this allows the customer to choose for themselves between public and private rooms. They can choose between a private room, share a room with other players if they book their own spots or they can join a public room that's only partially booked. 

Pros: 

This allows players to choose the best option based on preference, group size, and cost.

Can generate higher returns and highest customer satisfaction ratings.

Cons: 

This might appear complicated or confusing, depending on how it is presented to guests. 

Some booking software may not offer this option.

So there you have it. There are essentially three choices. There is no "right" or "wrong" method here. But there is a wrong way of making a booking. And that's where the customer feels they got a bad deal. That can involve a higher cost than they planned. Or having to play with strangers, when they envisioned a game with their friends. 

To that end, you should take care to only offer choices that lead to a better customer experience. Once you have been running your business for a few months, you'll see various trends as players make their choices about both the types of the room they prefer and the means of payment. We suggest that you keep an eye on these numbers. After a while, you should look them over and make new changes accordingly. This will allow you to focus your initial sales pitch to match the right type of room to that particular type of customer. 

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