The Escape Room industry is relatively young and is only now coming to the forefront of North American entertainment culture. The folks over at Transworld, the fine folks that put on the Haunted Attraction Association's HAA Show, are putting on the Chicago Escape Room Conference from August 12-14 in Schaumburg Illinois. This conference is specifically for the Escape Room industry and Escape Room enthusiasts. As a new operator of an Escape Room I am personally excited to attend this conference so here are my top 5 reasons to attend the Chicago Escape Room Conference 2016.
5. Seminars from notable industry professionals. There is a full slate of seminars and symposiums that are being offered to further educate and advance the general knowledge of Escape Room operators. These seminars are being presented by individuals who have built a name for themselves and are widely respected in the business. There will be seminars covering a wide array of topics from how to build a Gen 2 prop for an escape room, how to develop a mobile escape room, partnering with the entertainment and movie industries. Other seminars will touch on fascinating subjects such as the future of the industry, large scale games, management, marketing and how to promote an escape room business.
The folks presenting these topics are people that have built successful businesses and are willing to share that knowledge with me and you. Notable names such as the founder of Puzzle Break, Nate Martin who will be presenting Escape Games: Working with Brands, Film and Corporations. Brian Warner, the owner of Evilusions and developer of some of the snazziest props in the escape room industry will be presenting Escape Game Tech 101 - An Intro to Escape Room Tech Perfect for Anyone That Doesn't Understand It! There are many more seminars being offered check out the full list here.
4. Find out what are the emerging trends in the Escape Room industry. Let's face it folks, this is a very young industry and it is changing rapidly. Enthusiasts are getting savvy to the differences between a gen 1 room and a gen 2 escape room (yet some operators are not.)
In order to keep ahead of the curve escape room owners will have to continually up their game to keep the excitement up and the word of mouth flowing. Event's like the Chicago Escape Room Conference offer us an opportunity to see what is coming in the future and start to develop plans on how to implement them.
3. Vendors and props and puzzles, Oh My! In my local area there is not a Home Depot of puzzle prop suppliers that I can just run down to on a whim. I am constantly on the lookout for new and innovative props, set design, and puzzles to include in my current rooms or for upcoming rooms. I am aware of several of the puzzle innovators such as Steel Owl tech, Evilusions, and Tom Knabe who makes dynamite props. How many new and unusual props will I see, and even more so, how many will my accountant allow me to purchase?
Trade shows like these are an opportunity to see the coolest new gadgets in action and get to speak with the people who create and produce them. Many times there are new products that are being prototyped and previewed for the trade show audience.
I haven't as of this writing purchased a scenario for an escape room because I am not certain of the producers credentials. A trade show like this gives me as an escape owner a chance to meet escape room designers and get to see first hand products that they produce. Also I get to measure are they legit or simply a fly by night operation pushing a shady deal? (Pssst buddy, wanna buy an escape room?)
I don't know about you, but my trust of people on the internet is pretty low, and there are alot of shady dealers out there. At least this way I get to look them in they eye and review their product that I might potentially spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on.
2. Networking opportunities abound! As of the time of this writing there are several hundred escape rooms in North America with more opening every day. Now granted, not every one of these operators is going to attend this particular trade show and that is fine. Unlike other industries where there are thousands of outlets and the market is cutthroat, ours is a bit more collegial. Our facebook groups abound with openness and information sharing. Wouldn't it be beneficial for you to meet in person those people we have been exchanging ideas with face to face.
1. Inspiration! We started our escape room business because we were inspired by two very good operations in the Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina area. I fully intend to meet every person I can, and talk as much as I can, to this amazing group of people that I am now a part of. The level of inventiveness, and creativity I see every day on the various forums and groups I am a member of is fantastic.
I look forward to seeing the displays, and booths of so many creative people so that I can be inspired to continue to produce high quality and immersive experiences for my customers. When I saw the photos of Erick James Gyrion's booth for a previous convention I was inspired to learn how to do set design to that level in our own newest room.
When I visited Josh Czarda's Escape Room RVA I was impressed by the level of detail in their rooms and the sheer amount of attention to detail that went into each and every room. It inspired me as an owner to be cognizant of they type of experience we provide to our customers.
So these are 5 good reasons to make the trip to Schaumburg on August 12-14th. Cracked it! Escape Games will be there. Look for us in our bright lime green shirts and look for this logo.