Is Groupon Ruining or Helping Escape Room Businesses?

THE DOUBLE EDGE SWORD THAT IS GROUPON
Hello there, Janell Woodbury here from Exit Strategy Games. As an extremely avid Escape Room player (over 55 rooms under my belt and counting), and an Escape Room owner, there’s this cloud hanging over escape room businesses.  I can’t tell if it’s a white fluffy beautiful cloud that has a rainbow shooting out from behind it, or if it’s a dark rain cloud ready to produce a lightning strike to burn it all down to the ground.
PROS: It’s always great to start with the positive.  Groupon helped me launch my businesses! There’s that silver lining behind that white fluffy cloud.  It’s guaranteed money in your pocket.  I could pay a million dollars for google advertising, and have 0 return on investment.  Versus, I pay no money out of pocket with Groupon.  It was guaranteed money in my hand and escape room enthusiasts through my door! Sounds like a win/win right? All escape rooms should do Groupon, right?
CONS: Groupon undercut the value of my business dramatically.  My $35 tickets were selling for $17 each, and I was only receiving $11 of that in my pocket.  Often I’d have a 2 person Groupon come in for an hour game (that’s 1 1/2 total man hours between set up etc), so I’d have to pay my employee $15 to run the game, often more if he was on overtime, plus payroll taxes and workers comp hours, and when you add it all up, I was losing money on this money in my pocket.  Plus, if people can get your product for $17, and all these new players are popping up with their $17 per person (or less) Groupons then who is ever going to pay full price for an escape room experience when they believe the norm is $17 per ticket?
I really hope that we gave all of our customers, Groupon and non Groupon customers a really positive experience.  But the Groupon phenomenon has some Escape Room owners treating their Groupon customers like second rate customers.  Which can also tarnish the name of this industry.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Like I’ve said, there really is none.  I’m just here to provide food for thought and let you decide if Groupon’s are or are not good for Escape Room businesses.

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