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Would An Escape Room Work at Your Hostel?

Dennis Pitcock
Written by Dennis Pitcock


Serial entrepreneur Daniele Colombo has been known to take his X Hostel brand to the next level, but what he chose to build another revenue stream for his Bucharest hostels can send ripples into the industry. Simply he took his worst selling rooms, and trapped customers inside it, having them pay to try to escape, and it is a huge success.

Escape room games tie in perfectly with hostels. They feed on both the tourism and local verticals, attracting customers year round. The season doesn’t really matter, the challenges sell themselves. Not too long after opening, they found themselves ranked #1 in fun and games in TripAdvisor, and the press keeps rolling in.

Operations wise, running an escape room is breeze compared to running a hostel. You have to set-up, monitor, and reset after the event for the next crew. You open the doors, and you close them, going home and sleep well at night. Like a receptionist, the quizmaster must be tentative to the patrons, offering clues if need be, and make sure everyone has a good time. They can of course do this as they schedule future reservations and upload photos for the social media accounts, but I wouldn’t have them do the reception tasks too. Another plus is that you have a group of patrons either excited for their upcoming challenge, or excited they just finished their challenge, drinking to their triumphs, failures, and new found friends.

Escape room games not only exist, but thrive in the real estate that would often be neglected. When you think of your property, think of basements, storage closets, hallways, alleyways, and more. And, if you are thinking of a new property, look for the ones no one else is looking at. The more obscure and grotesque the better. When you consider the possibility to theme each room, you have infinite possibilities, just keep in mind, the location does matter. The easier it is to find and get to, the more customers you can serve.

Just about a year ago today, Daniele’s Escape Room in Bucharest was only the second in Bucharest, opening a week after the first.  Its immediate success went viral, in the local community and among tourists as well. This success inspired him to take it to a whole new level,  making a franchise out of it with, and moving to open more escape rooms in Sofia, Brasov, Kaliningrad, Golden Sands, Athens, Suceava, Ankara, Beirut and is now coming the the US.

He is not alone. Escape Rooms are popping up all over the place. His success lead to 75 more open to compete with him in Bucharest alone. It should be taken on only by someone who embraces new competition, and looks to beat them. Due to the low overhead and a high customer turnover rate, you can expect competition to pop-up all the time, but only the strong will survive.

Escape games can be successful anywhere, but really seem to thrive in large cities, with or without hostels. This way there is a large enough population to feed everyone.  So perhaps that empty room at your hostel could help you take to the bank.



About the author

Dennis Pitcock

Dennis Pitcock

Dennis jumped into the hostel industry after a summer backpacking Europe in 2008. He went from being a guest to a manager within weeks, and currently does consulting for large and small hostels alike in 3 continents. Prior, he worked in eCommerce, so he has passion for the tech side of the industry and is now deeply entrenched in the hostel and activities industry.

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