Escape Room Owners: Bathrooms & You

Escape room owners, it’s time for the talk.

Now some of you don’t really need this talk, but more than a few of you do… so I am going to try to add at least one or two thoughts to this that will help those that aren’t doing a stinky job managing their facilities.

Dan Egnor standing in an outhouse labeled "The Shitter" looking into the toilet.
Escape Room Guinness World Record Holder Dan Egnor peering into the abyss.

This 💩 Matters

A significant portion of your players – both experienced and inexperienced – are judging you by the quality and state of your bathrooms.

For years people have written in asking us to include bathrooms in reviews. For years we’ve elected not to – not because we don’t think that they matter – they sure as 💩 do.

Anecdotally, I believe that there is a correlation between the condition of an escape room company’s bathroom and the quality of the games and customer service. If someone isn’t cleaning up the 💩, what else is being neglected?

The Tale of the Smelly 💩

About a year ago we visited a company with one of Lisa’s oldest friends, Deb.

Now Deb will be quick to tell you that she “isn’t an escape room player” even though she’s probably played 40 games by virtue of being friends with us. Plus Deb manages a sports recreation business that is considerably larger than any escape room company in the United States. She knows stuff.

We played a fine, low-budget game in a small town. The game was clearly made with a lot of love. We all enjoyed it.

When we left, we went to dinner and took notes on the game. After we finished discussing the game itself Deb looked at us and said, “That guy doesn’t want to run a business.” One of us asked why she thought that. She pointed out that the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned in weeks and it smelled like something had died in it. There was only one bathroom in the small facility, so he had to know, and chose not to do anything about it.

To Deb, it seemed like this owner just wanted to design games, which he was pretty good at. He didn’t want to run a business. If he couldn’t take the time to clean the 💩, there must be other parts of his business that were starting to smell.

Within a few months, he closed his doors.

Give Your 💩 Some Love

A few pieces of actionable, tangible advice:

Clean Your Bathroom Regularly

Have a schedule. Make sure people are held accountable. Remember that in a small business, no one should be above cleaning the 💩.

If You Aren’t Responsible For Your Bathroom

Plenty of escape rooms are in buildings where someone else is responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of the bathroom. There are limits to what you can do here.

If you are thinking about renting in such a place, I strongly urge you to do two things:

  1. Check out the bathrooms every time you visit before leasing. Make sure they are being cared for.
  2. Put it in the terms of your lease that the bathrooms will be cared for. If the landlord is already taking care of such things, it won’t be a hard ask. If they are being negligent about the state of their facilities, then they’ll throw a fit. Either way, you have an answer.

Elevate The 💩 Experience

Design your bathroom. Make it thematic, make it elegant, make it something special.

A basket with floss, maxipads, tampons, mouthwash, and mints in a bathroom.

Also, you can do what we saw at Riddle Room in Rhode Island: leave a care basket with feminine hygiene products and other comforts. Most will probably never use these items, but if someone truly needs them, you probably just made their day.

Closing Thoughts

Running a business – any business – comes with some 💩 tasks. So much of the difference between success and failure is the willingness and discipline to just do that 💩.

6 thoughts on “Escape Room Owners: Bathrooms & You

  1. I wholeheartedly agree, but this post needs to be shared with OWNERS, not just enthusiasts. At last summer’s ER conference, we went to one of the selected companies on the tour off hours, thinking this must be one of the best in the area?! As luck would have it, I was in need of a feminine product upon arrival. The location had none. We had UBERed there, and there was not a drug store within walking distance. I had to ask no less than 5 women before getting help, before my game. Guess what I remember about that location? Their bathroom. Forget the game, the entire customer experience was colored for me by my stress level and discomfort. This post is spot on! If you want to run a forward-facing business, consider the entire customer experience.

  2. On the flip side – players should be aware that most escape rooms do not have large bathroom facilities. We have a bathroom for one person. It KILLS our timeline when a group shows up late and every single person needs to use the restroom. We used to ask if people needed to use the restroom but now we don’t ask because of what we call, “the bathroom curse.” It feels like once one person goes, everyone else needs to go too.

  3. As much as I hate to say it, while this article is spot on I do not see it making a difference with the sub-par bathroom folks. Those who run cra**y bathrooms are usually beyond help by suggestion. And, as noted, the cra**y bathroom is a symptom of a larger set of deficiencies. When personal pride (or lack thereof) allows cra**y bathrooms to exist then “knowledge” and/or “awareness” are rarely effective. However, I think the 7 or 8/10 bathroom crowd can and will up their game with some of the tips REA has included. In other words for those that have personal pride, why not use your bathroom to “plus up” your customer’s experience. It’s a good investment, not a cra**y one.

    1. Thanks… yeah, I agree with you. I don’t actually think that many owners who weren’t bothered by their foul bathrooms will read this post and suddenly change their approach to hygiene.

      Still, I wanted to put some ideas out that help out those who want to excel… and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a whole post of poop jokes.

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