Escape Rooms and Axe Throwing
Attractions Are Enjoying Popularity

What are the latest trends and customer services tips at escape rooms and axe throwing attractions? For this article, venue owners and staff offered their insights on both topics.
At Escape Room Mystery in King of Prussia, Pa., Shift Manager James Burke said that there are several new trends when it comes to escape room goals at this busy location. “In the past, our rooms usually had physical locks on the door, and you’d have to figure out how to hit a button or perform another task to escape. That was the escape room’s main goal. But now we see our guests want a goal beyond escaping as part of the story of the room. They want to do an additional task as well as escaping the room. So, the story needs to be a little different.” He noted another key trend, as well. “Due to the pandemic, one of the biggest things is that people want to have only private escape rooms for their family or friends’ group rather than joining in with random groups. That is paramount. They want to do their own thing with their own people, not have outsiders disturb their vibe or their privacy.”
When it comes to customer service, Burke said, “We promote the idea that our rooms are entirely private for private groups, so that people feel comfortable. We also try to make it as easy as possible to reschedule sessions if necessary. And of course, we always work with our guests so that their experience is easy, and we’re available to answer any questions.” He said that it goes without saying that it is also important to answer the phone and respond to people quickly if they leave a voice mail message or send an email.

With a mix of young adults with friends or family members, and kids holding birthday party events, Burke related that the attraction’s annual visitation is up. “It’s very much up compared to the pandemic, and last year, especially in the fall it was a bit slow, I think because people were unsure as to how to rebound from the pandemic. This year, even though September is usually slower for us, we are doing really well. I think people are finally eager to get out and do things again, so things have really rebounded now.” The venue promotes on YouTube, as well as Facebook, Linked In, and Instagram.
In Glendale, Ariz. at Escape Westgate, General Manager Amanda Hawkins explained that her main customer base is adults, and to reach them the company uses social media and other online advertising, as well as the company website. They focus on Facebook and update the page regularly.
The escape room attraction has three room choices available at present, with eight guests per room, Hawkins said. Like Burke in Pennsylvania, Hawkins said the main trend is private bookings. She noted “Since COVID, people are just more comfortable bringing in their own groups.” The facility is adding a new room in January and swapped out two existing room themes last March. “In general, we keep the same themes between two and a half and five years, which is standard across the industry. It’s always best to provide different keys and puzzles in the game, along the way to solving the escape itself.”
She described the center’s top customer service tips as focusing on repeat business. “We offer a 20% discount for return visits,” she said.
The attraction’s annual visitation is up since the pandemic considerably, Hawkins reported. “We opened in 2019, and we are considerably above that level now as well.”
Also located in the Grand Canyon State, at Escape Room 101 in Phoenix, Managing Partner Sean Fear said his customer base is a mix of kids and adults. “When we built the puzzles and put the rooms together initially, we aimed at adults and older teens. However, that’s not the case. We do see a lot of that, but we also see a great deal of 9, 10, 11, and 12-year-olds.”
His attraction’s original choice of location was based on its appeal to area companies nearby. “We were promoting to corporate business, where we saw a lot of interest. But we lost that pretty much overnight to COVID. It’s slowly coming back, but now we have a whole mix of people. Hopefully it will come back.” The company’s website features areas that focus on teams and learning objectives, and also includes testimonials from players.
Fear isn’t seeing a lot of new trends in terms of the escape room themes themselves. “All our games since COVID are private, you’re not putting random people into the same room as of right now. But the basic formula hasn’t changed. We’ve been doing this for five years, and we are in our third generation of games,” he explained. “Our puzzles can be logic-based, math-based, you name it. It’s really just your own imagination that you use to come up with them.”
In terms of customer service, Fear noted, “The largest discounts we offer are for returning customers. We really appreciate them, and we want to show that. I think that’s important.” The attraction has seven different rooms. “We would like our customers to come back and play in all those rooms. So of course, customer service has a big role in that. It’s important to keep people entertained and keep it interesting and fun for our guests.” He added, “We always tell our new employees that what we are selling is fun. That is what our business is about. We don’t have inventory; they aren’t going to walk out each day with souvenirs. They are going to walk out the door with smiles on their faces, that’s what we want them to do. And we want them to come back.”
Escape Room 101 is enjoying increased visitation since the pandemic. “Our biggest times are Friday through Sundays. Weekdays we are still missing corporate America business.”
At The Smart Axe in Rancho Cordova, Calif., business is booming according to Manager Jaycenn White. The Smart Axe has six locations, including one in Davis, Calif. “Our customer base varies by location,” she stressed. “In Davis, we get a lot of college students, and reach them with student discounts and that type of thing. At this location its very much family based, and that’s where we focus our promotion. We also see young adults who come here for first dates.” The company encourages online reviews on Facebook, Yelp, and Trip Advisor, and promotes on those sites as well as on TikTok, where videos show the fun.
The biggest trend that White is seeing is an influx of holiday parties this year, she attested. “We are booking from November straight through to January for parties. We have a backroom for that which we promote as available. There are a lot of events happening now, including a big return of work parties. People aren’t all working at home anymore, and they like getting together at a place such as this.”
Customer service tips include a Happy Hour promotion, which is posted and promoted online. “We offer happy hour pricing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It’s one lane for six people for $50. That’s $8 and change per person, basically. Offering specials like this is a truly good form of customer service.”
Overall, the attraction’s annual visitation is up, this year, White said. “Especially with the holiday parties from work groups, it’s growing all the time. We are seeing a lot more interaction with working people.”

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