March 20, 2017
SHOP TALK

Plotting your escape at Escape Games Worcester

Jason Eastty, the owner and founder of Escape Games Worcester.

VIEW: Plotting your escape at Escape Games Worcester

Jason Eastty

Age: 37

Titles: Owner & founder

Birthplace: Rochester, N.H.

Residence: Worcester

Employees: 6

Company founded: Jan. 8, 2016

In just over a year since clients started paying Eastty to lock them in rooms with creative puzzle-solving required to exit, he has hosted corporate groups with 270 people, small dental and law offices, bachelor parties and one failed marriage proposal at his business in Worcester's Northworks building. As a competitor opened downtown, Eastty has focused on creativity, social media and providing original games.

Why did you found Escape Games?

I had played a room in 2015 Boston with a group of friends and had never heard of escape rooms like this before. We had such an amazing time, even though we lost. We talked about it so much afterward that I knew it was something.

How has the response been?

It has been ridiculous. Last year, we saw almost 18,000 people.

We've had a lot of corporate events as well, which really started picking up at the end of the year. We had a corporate event with (Worcester drug researcher) AbbVie where they brought down 270 people. It is an amazing team-building thing.

Where does your revenue come from?

Seventy-five percent are recreational clients; the remaining 25 percent are corporate events.

People do bachelor parties. We've had people propose here. You can use our venue as a wedding venue, although we haven't done it yet.

How have marriage proposals gone?

We had one person propose. We have another person who want to propose. We adjust our games a little bit, so the final thing isn't just getting out. There is a little box at the end, and then the person proposes. It is a very unique way to do it.

The first person who proposed, the girl said no. And she had family waiting in the waiting area to celebrate.

I hope that does not happen again.

What corporate clients do you get?

We had companies book a room for eight people. We had AbbVie at 270 people. Then there is everything in-between. Hanover Insurance Group (of Worcester) had an event. A bunch of law firms. A lot of dental offices and stuff like that.

What is the benefit to corporations?

It just forces you to work together. One person is not going to be able to get out by themselves. You have to use teamwork, and you have to communicate well to do that. People love it.

What are the types of rooms?

We opened up with two rooms: crime scene and the museum. Then we opened up the conspiracy room, which is set in the 60s. It is decorated to that theme; I went all over Craig's List to find stuff that was period specific because I want it to feel as real as possible. Our fourth room is decorated to be what a fallout shelter would look like.

How do you keep the games fresh?

I don't want to repeat any games or any puzzles. Any room we build, I want to learn what we did before and put that into the next room. We learn a lot from watching people and how they play the games.

You always want to evolve your product; otherwise people are going to get bored. People will say, "Oh, I saw this trick in the museum." You have to come up with new things; otherwise, what is the point?

Live Action Escapes opened in Worcester a few months after you. How has the competition been?

I am very, very competitive. If people are only going to go to one, I want them to come to me. We put a lot of time and effort into everything that we do. The whole experience, from the moment you walk in to the signs you hold at the end of the game – we have signs that people hold saying whether they won or lost – every detail we really pay attention to.

How do customers find you?

We are the No. 1 escape room in all of Massachusetts, according to TripAdvisor. It helps with people who are visiting.

We have nearly 700 reviews between Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google. The response has been amazing.

How does social media play a role?

The social media component is just amazing. People will come and check in, saying "We're really excited about it." Then their friends will see that and want to do it. The signs that people hold at the end of the game, they post them and tag us, which builds the following.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by Brad Kane, WBJ editor.

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