Memento #4: Escape Room Passport Flyer

Looking through my odds and ends, I stumbled across a pretty interesting glimpse of a future that wasn’t to be – a flyer for the “Escape Room Passport” app. I picked up the flyer at EscapeRoomPassport’s booth at the escape room convention in August 2016.

The booth was staffed by team members wearing flight uniforms, and they were sharing the idea of an app which players could use to track which escape rooms they’ve played. The app would be free for players and $9.99 a month for businesses- a small expense all things considered.

So why didn’t it take off? I don’t have a clear answer, but I’m assuming the development team determined that the business model wasn’t going to make this worthwhile. Especially in 2016, I don’t know that there were enough “enthusiasts” to power an app like this.

Others have made headway in this space more recently. We the Enthusiasts offers passports players can get stamped at various escape rooms. I’ve seen them in stock at various escape rooms around the country, so they seem to have pretty reasonable adoption. The nice thing about their product is the simplicity- participating venues don’t need to do anything aside from furnishing a unique stamp they’ll use to mark players’ passports.

The Morty app has also become a key player in this space- giving escape room players a chance to connect, trade reviews, and track progress. I’ve found the Morty app an invaluable resource when I’m traveling to an unfamiliar area. I tend not to obsess over how others like/love escape rooms, but if I see an escape room has more than half of its reviews as bad experiences, I’ll probably steer clear. The Morty app also has a pretty active Discord community that’s helpful for connecting enthusiasts.

I suspect the operating model for Escape Room Passport would have benefited from a slight redesign. By forcing escape room venues to opt in, it means that not every escape room will participate, which in turn makes the app less useful to me as a player- knowing that I’ve completed 200 participating rooms means less to me than knowing that I’ve completed 500 rooms total. It also forces businesses to make a purchase up front, creating a chicken and the egg problem as to why the first business would ever start paying for a subscription on an app with no users.

Interestingly, Escape Room Passport’s website is still live, and I see a link to an Apple Store listing. Clicking on it, the page spins forever, but it’s possible the app may have launched at some point. I may owe an apology if I’ve misspoken about the app never launching!

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