This is Brian from Cracked it! Escape Games, I am sitting here at the Buffalo airport waiting on my flight. I arrived a little bit early because the crappy weather is rolling in and I might get stuck here so I am seeing if I can catch an earlier flight to Atlanta. While I've got the time, I wanted to do a quick hot wash about the Room Escape Conference that just wrapped up here today. There are tours and things going on today but I wasn't interested in those.
I just wanted to, if you weren't able to attend. I know I was going to do some blogging or video blogging while I was here. That just didn't happen, I didn't have time, there was just a lot going on. I met a lot of really cool people. So, I am going to give you guys some basic highlights.
Brian's two cent opinion
You can take this for what you will. Overall, I thought this was a really good conference. Compared to last year, the Transworld have really stepped up their game. The registration was super easy, it wasn't a lot of pain. Because I had pre-purchased all of my seminars and everything, everything was already loaded into their database. You know, they would scan your name tag so everything was pretty smooth as far as that goes. I went to a metric butt ton of seminars. I learned a ton of great information.
A lot of people ask if there is value in going to all these seminars, for me there personally was. I pulled at least one nugget of useful knowledge from every single seminar that I'll be able to use or tell somebody else about that's trying to get into this business. Speaking of that, compared to the Chicago Room Escape Conference, last August, there were a lot more owners than there were people looking to get into the business. so, if we were to do a ratio of it, last year in Chicago it was about 60% that were new people trying to get into the business and maybe 40% owners like myself, people that are new to the business. This year it seemed to be flipped the opposite way. It was a lot of owners, a great community that we got to meet and a lot of great new, interesting people that want to get into this thing. The industry is exploding. If I could use a quote from Nate Martin in his seminar, "the escape room industry is about 10 minutes old" and we are growing by leaps and bounds. People are really, really stepping up the game as far as the quality and intricacy of their rooms.
For me, it was a very valuable reason to come to Niagra Falls. My drawback to Niagra Falls is that it was shitty weather nearly the entire time I was here. I did make some time to go the falls yesterday because it was the one day it was clear. As you can see behind me it's getting ready to bring in about another 10 inches of rain it seems like.
One of the drawbacks I can talk about as far as the conference itself, things were stacked so tight. I bought the big package of seminars, so I chose to sign up for 13 seminars. That's a lot of information that was passed. Unfortunately, I didn't go to all of them. I did sacrifice some time to go to seminars because the trade show floor and the seminars overlapped so tightly that I didn't have time on the first day that the trade show floor was open to get in there and walk around. I only had about 45 minutes after my last seminar of the day to go in and do a quick walk around of the floor to see who was in there, glad hand with a couple of people and then they were kicking us out. So, on, yesterday they opened the showroom floor at 9 AM and it closed at 3 PM and the seminars again, overlapped, actually ran longer than the show floor was open. If I was to recommend to the Transworld folks, is you gotta manipulate the way the trade show floor is.
For those of you that didn't go (holds up exhibitor list)This is all of the vendors that were at that show. There was a wide variety, from who was there last year, there were a lot of the same vendors, but man there was some cool stuff. There were two trailer vendors there. Jason Garvett had his mobile room escape there. It slips me, the guys brought this really cool trailer that was a containerized trailer that had twin games in it. Man, it was super cool. Those guys were absolutely awesome as far as talking to them and finding out about the process of how they built that. So, it was incredible for me. A lot of great prop vendors were there. A lot of great scenario developers were there.
One of the things that didn't happen last year and I don't think it's going to happen again this year because the Transworld folks are moving onto another show This one's in the books and they've done everything they can for it. Now we as a community have to do some follow-on activity for it. I am going to be writing a blog about all these vendors. (Holds up exhibitor list) Again, I will scroll through the list. All these vendors, the ones that I talked to, I took photos of their booth and I am gonna do basically an after-action summary of all these folks that I talked to and all the cool stuff they are bringing to the escape room community.
I want to do some shout outs too. Man, I met a ton, a ton of cool people from the startup's forum and the owner's forum. A bunch of people came up and said, "Brian, I've seen you on the forums and want to thank you for all the stuff you tell us and pass on to us." I love doing this stuff, you're not my competition, unless you're in my back yard, even then you're really not my competition. So if I can help you guys out and pass some wit and wisdom and words of encouragement I'm gonna do that for you and I think this is a way to do it. Look forward to a blog real soon about all these different companies. Instead of listing them just A to Z like they are here, I'm going to kind of break them out by categories. If you are a new owner looking for let's say a prop developer or a prop builder, now you're going to have a resource with a link to their website. Visit crackeditnc.com, click on blog, and you will be able to read all of my blogs.
I also want to do some shoutouts. The top of the list for me this time is particular conference was Tone Purzycki and Frank (Sorry Frank, I'm going to butcher your name) Gigglia, from Trapdoor Escape Rooms in Red Bank, NJ. Man, two great dudes. Super fun to talk to. Super fun to learn a bunch of information from. Tone and Frank did an awesome presentation of Guerilla Marketing. There was some awesome information that was pulled from there. If I can remember some of the stuff that was said, they were dumping so many good things so fast and I wrote down as much as I could but I didn't get it all. After the party at the Hard Rock Cafe', (which we can talk about that offline)we did a round table. Tone is going to be putting that together. Look for that on his Unlocked channel on YouTube. Again, another source for great information and great videos. He's a great video producer.
Melissa Eapen from Improbable Escapes did an incredible live action demonstration of a popup game. If you are interested in pop-up games, I highly recommend going to improbableescapes.com. They're out of Canada. They do some incredibly fun stuff. They had a super interactive booth on the (trade show) floor. Which, again, I think it was Emma, her assistant walked me through the process that they used to develop their pop-up games, and it's something I can put in my toolbox and carry on later on.
The panels. Nate Martin, Elizabeth Garson, Nicole Ginsburg, The names go on and on. Scrolll through the list down below and you will see all these people's names. Again, a very tight community of owners that came together and had an incredible amount of useful information that was passed on to further develop our community as a whole.
There were people from Bangladesh. There were people from China. There were people from across the world that have escape rooms that travelled to Niagra Falls for this conference.
Next year, their going to announce pretty soon, where the next one is going to be. I don't know specifically. Keep your ears perked up. Their going to announce pretty soon where the next room escape conference is going to be and when it's going to be.
What's the future of the industry? It's up in the air. The future is bright. There was a lot of talk about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and how that's going to play into our games. How our industry is going to further develop using those particular types of things. The sheer amount of incredibleness that is being built into people's businesses and their rooms. The ingenuity of Escape Room owners and the desire to provide a quality customer experience and ensure that it's a thrill of a lifetime to come to an Escape Room. The pure enthusiasm that I saw across all spectrums from the person who is just starting to decide that they want to open to the veteran's like Nate Martin who have been at it for years. There's some cynicism in some areas and there's a whole bunch of optimism in other areas. Stay part of this community. Be active. Ask Questions. If I can answer them, I'll definitely answer them, if not, there's a great group of owners that'll pitch in and help you out and get a great business started.
If anybodies got any questions, comments, gripes, bitches, moans, complaints, put them in the comments below or send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. PM me on facebook or whatever you want to do. If you're not comfortable asking questions in public go ahead and ask, If I don't know the answer I will definitely point you in the right direction of somebody that does know the answer. There are a lot of people that are way smarter than this guy that are doing this that have PHDs in underwater archeology, PHDs in electrical engineering, Master's degrees. People that are a whole lot smarter than a guy with a high school education and 20 years in the Marine Corps. If you need anything, shout out. If you want to be a quiet lurker, bystander that's cool too. Love having you. Talk to you later.
Brian Vinciguerra is the Owner of Cracked it! Escape Games in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He is also the chief cook and bottle washer, accountant, janitor and every other job associated with being an Entrepreneur.