REPOD S4E8 – Expansion & Hospitality: Mark Flint, CEO of The Escape Game, USA

In Season 4, Episode 8 of REPOD, we return home to the United States for a chat with Mark Flint, CEO of The Escape Game (TEG). With over 26 locations in 14 states, TEG is positioned to offer a shared American experience. Many of their locations have the same games as locations in other cities, all with consistently high quality rooms, accessible venues in high-profile shopping centers, beautifully decorated sets, and friendly customer service.

Mark operates his company with a businessman’s brain and an escape room enthusiast’s heart. The emphasis on hospitality lies at the heart of The Escape Game experience. Their mission statement is Every Single Guest, and Mark shares insights on how he incorporates their mission into every location and experience.

escape room decorated to look like a moroccan marketplace, with image of smiling man in a suit, titled Expansion & Hospitality: Mark Flint, CEO of The Escape Game, USA

With their commitment to warm and welcoming customer service, well-maintained, clean lobbies and games, and an eye towards rapid expansion, The Escape Game reflects American values. Mark emphasized their in-house leadership training program, and in chatting with him, it was clear that his strong vision and leadership is reflected through his company.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

We are immensely grateful to our sponsors this season: Morty App, Escape Tales from Board and Dice, and Buzzshot. We truly appreciate your support of our mission to promote and improve the immersive gaming community.

Morty

Morty is a free app for discovering, planning, tracking, and reviewing your escape rooms and other immersive social outings.

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You can learn more at MortyApp.com/REPOD to sign up and get a special badge for our listeners (works for existing users also).

3 board game boxes, one that says Children of the Wyrmwoods, one that says low memory, and one that says The Awakening. Also a book titled Book of Rituals.

Escape Tales

Escape Tales is an acclaimed series of tabletop escape room games— each featuring a unique blend of mind-bending puzzles masterfully woven into thought-provoking, robust narratives.

Special Discount for REPOD listeners:

Use code “roomescapeartist” for 25% off all Escape Tales products and Books of Rituals on Board & Dice.

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Buzzshot

Buzzshot is ‘Customer Satisfaction Software’ for your escape room business. Streamline your marketing and grow your escape room business with pregame and postgame features including robust waiver management, branded team photos, and integrated review management.

Special Discount for REPOD listeners:

Use our link when booking a demo for 20% off your first three months.

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • Mark talks about the early days of his operation when he first opened in April of 2014. [3:09]
  • Mark and David talk about the impact of Trip Advisor on the popularity of escape rooms in the mid 2010s. [3:37]
  • Peih-Gee mentions that one of the benefits of having a chain of escape rooms all running roughly the same games is creating a shared experience among players. [5:57]
  • Mark talks about growing his operation and why they run the same games in different locations instead of creating new games for each city. [6:24]
  • Mark talks about some of the challenges of opening locations in different states. He mentions ensuring that the quality can be consistently delivered, as well as dealing with different building codes. [8:49]
  • Mark talks about travelling and playing escape rooms as an enthusiast. [10:23]
  • Mark talks about what inspires him when designing games. [11:54]
  • Mark tells us that when he first decided to start his company, he toured different places like Hungary and Singapore, playing escape rooms there for research. He discuses some of the variations in design styles. [13:21]
  • Mark talks about cultivating a positive relationship between The Escape Game and the escape room enthusiast community, and how to balance designing for both the enthusiast and the casual first-time player. [14:52]
  • Peih-Gee talks about her experience playing at The Escape Game and how impressed she was with the consistency of the quality of games. [16:55]
  • Mark talks about their most premium game, Ruins: Forbidden Treasure, which is exclusive to the Berry Hill, Nashville location. [17:30]
  • Mark talks about their highly acclaimed game, Playground, which has won a Golden Lock Award from REA, and why he thinks it’s so popular. [21:30]
In-game: A pair of classroom desks with strange projects resting on top of them.
  • Mark talks about his business background before he founded The Escape Game. [23:29]
  • Mark talks about some of the factors that limit their escape game design process for their type of business model, including size of the room and ability for the team to deliver a good experience. [24:53]
  • Mark talks about the importance of “delivery,” including the website experience, the greeting as the guest walks through the door, the briefing that the guest gets, and the nuanced and attentive game guiding. [25:53]
  • Mark talks about maintaining consistency and cohesiveness of maintenance and customer service on a national level. [26:50]
  • Mark talks about his staffing model for each of his locations and their formal leadership training program within The Escape Game company. [28:08]
  • The Escape Game tends to open in high traffic locations like shopping centers. Mark talks about how and why they select these high profile locations. [29:53]
  • Mark talks about adapting the games for different locations. [34:15]
  • Mark talks about adjusting location sizes according to local market demand. [35:35]
  • Mark discusses being a good neighbor with other escape room companies. [36:28]
  • Mark talks about why The Escape Game returned to public bookings as a pricing model, and how to balance pricing models for escape rooms for both enthusiasts and casual players. [39:12]
  • Mark shares that The Nemesis Club in Phoenix, Arizona, with games Evil Robots and Mogollon Monster is one of his favorite escape room companies in the US. [42:59]
  • Mark talks about TEG’s newest game in development, a space-themed game. [44:01]
  • Mark mentions that he would love to fulfill special requests from our listeners, particularly requests for a private room experience. He encourages enthusiasts to reach out to the location and that they will work with you to host a private team game. [45:30]
  • Mark shares a bonus story about the time he played an escape game in China called Kill Hitler. [48:13]
Reality Escape Pod mission patch logo depicts a spaceship puncturing through the walls of reality.

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Resources Mentioned in this Episode

About Mark Flint

man with short neat grey/brown hair, blue eyes, smiling, in a checkered shirt, blue blazer, against a background of greenery

Mark Flint is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Escape Game (TEG), a world-class experiential entertainment concept with 27 (and growing) retail locations across the United States and employing over 900 amazing, talented, and dedicated team members. TEG’s headquarters and creative design/ manufacturing studio are based in Nashville, TN. TEG’s IRL (in real life) experiences cast its beloved guests as heroes in story-driven missions which take place in highly immersive, multi-room sets and present guests the opportunity to “win” each mission by working together to solve intellectual and tactile challenges within a 60-minute timeframe. TEG also provides an exciting portfolio of hosted, digital, play-from-anywhere experiences during the pandemic, geared towards engaging and effective team building.

Board member of Five Iron Golf, a fast-growing urban indoor golf experience that combines golf, technology, and entertainment. President Emeritus at HMS Valuation Partners, a healthcare business appraisal firm Mr. Flint founded at the age of 25. Along with Melinda, wife of 29 years and best friend, invested in several emerging start-up companies. Holds Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics from Spring Hill College as well as two Master’s degrees (MBA and MPH) from Tulane University.

Founded The Escape Game along with brothers Jonathan and James Murrell in 2013 out of the Flint family basement. Together with co-founders, developed TEG’s product offering, service model, and company culture that has successfully delivered millions of guest experiences, generated over 115,000 5-star reviews, and is consistently scored for NPS (Net Promotor Score) at the highest levels for any industry. While at The Escape Game, served in various leadership roles, including strategy, game design, and finance functions. Passionate and particular about game/ experience design, having co-created over 20 unique gamified experiences for TEG’s retail platform as well as projects for select third-party clients, including Disney, PwC, and Amazon Studios, each being repeat clients of TEG.

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