We’ve Escaped 2023! Buzzshot’s End of the Year Roundup

Article by Mairi Nolan posted on Wed 27 December 2023

Well, another whirlwind of a year for the escape room industry is drawing to a close, and the holiday season is upon us once again. It looks like we’ve escaped 2023!

But before we prepare to bid farewell to 2023, it’s only fitting to take a moment to reflect on the challenges, the triumphs, and all the unexpected adventures that 2023 brought. It’s been a big year for the escape room industry, and for us here at Buzzshot too.

So, here’s to 2023! 🥂

A Year in Review for the Escape Room Industry

This year we’ve kept up with the news quite closely via our work on the Escape Industry Newsletter, a free, monthly newsletter about the global (English language) escape room industry. From new room openings, to TV and podcasts, to all the biggest escape room stories. As we look back at the whole year, here are some of our favourite stories per month:

In January, we saw the results from the TERPECA 2022, and the Bullseye Awards. We even wrote about the winners here.

In February, it was a big month for convention related news. One of the big US-based escape room conventions, RECON, announced its ‘digital’ return for 2023. Meanwhile, the team here at Buzzshot travelled to the Transworld Room Escape Show.

In March, we reported on the return of #Enigmarch, a monthly puzzle creation challenge.

Between April and May we saw a big boom in escape room award ceremonies. The Escape Room Awards announced their nominees and finalised, and the Golden Lock Awards had a packed livestream to showcase theirs. In other news, we turned 1,000 years old in April. No, really!

In June, the ER Champ competition returned to try to find the world’s best escape room team. It was also a great month for escape room video games, as you’ll see here.

Then, in July, the biggest escape room news story came from China when the 2022-2023 EGA National Excellent Reality Game Selection announced its finalists. Meanwhile, our Escape Industry Newsletter celebrated 2 years (with es-cake of course).

In August, RECON took place, and a new event in the UK (Lock and Key Awards) were announced.

Between September and October, was World Escape Room Day! Puzzletember also returned, as well as countless spooky escape room pop-ups. In early October, we also watched the livestream of ER Champ’s grand finale.

In November, the TERPECA award nomination and voting rounds began, sparking excitement across the escape room world.

Finally, in December, as well as countless pop-up puzzle advent calendars, December was a month for looking back on the year. Some of our favourite news stories include round-up posts from the likes of Escape the Review and more.

A Look at All Things Buzzshot in 2023

If you thought that was a lot, this year we’ve been just as busy at Buzzshot!

For anyone reading this who may not be familiar yet, Buzzshot is an escape room management software, powering the customer experience, marketing, and business growth. So when it comes to escape rooms, we’ve seen it all.

This year alone, we took care of over 2 million happy escape room players. That’s over 650,000 groups playing escape rooms, all over the world. From waivers, to post-game surveys, to tracking all those reviews written - it’s a lot of numbers! But one of the things we take the most pride in, are escape room photos!

Of those 650,000 escape room teams, they collectively snapped over 850,000 escape room photos. That’s a lot of photos!

As enthusiasts ourselves, a fair few of those were us! I’m (Mairi, right) guilty as charged!

Of course, when we’re not out there playing as many rooms as we can ourselves, we’re hard at work developing new features for the platform. We spend a lot of time with escape room owners and operators, and we’re committed to constantly improving the platform to stay ahead of the trends. So as we look back at 2023, here are a few of the features were particularly proud to have added:

Broadcast Mailing

Back in July we unveiled one of our most exciting features yet: Broadcast Mailing.

In other words, email marketing. All handled within the Buzzshot platform, optimised for escape rooms, and using real player data from inside and outside the escape room to fully customise the player’s pre- and post- game experience.

Broadcast mailing is a powerful feature and you can read more about here, but at a glance,

“Broadcast mailing is a powerful and versatile tool that gives you the ability to contact all of our customers and subscribers in one go, all from within the Buzzshot platform. It’s email marketing, but turbocharged. Use Broadcast Mailing to send out monthly newsletters, let players know about your new offer, or encourage them to come back and play a new escape room.”

This new feature was a natural progression from the post-game surveys we introduced in 2022, and is our latest step in giving owners all the tools they need to run a fantastic escape room.

Integration with COGS

But that’s not all. Throughout this year we’ve been working hard on our integration with COGS, one of the world’s leading platforms for interactive events (such as escape rooms). When we announced the integration, we interviewed Tom Dixon, the director of COGS a little earlier in the year, who explained,

“COGS is a hardware and a software ecosystem for running any kind of interactive shows. It’s reactive to the player. COGS can react dynamically to almost any kind of input.”

With the integration, escape room owners can now track and transfer data from outside the escape room, to within, and from within to out. Put simply, it’s personalisation but turbocharged. With this, Games Masters can use data captured before the game to customise the in-room experience, and use information such as ‘winning conditions’, or ‘clues used’ to provide fantastic post-game touchpoints.

With this new feature, we ‘closed the loop’ on the player experience, allowing for an escape room to have all the tools they need to create a brilliant player journey from the very first interaction, to the last, and everything in between.

So, how many of these features are you using at your escape room venue?

If you’re already a Buzzshot client, you can get started with any of these, right now, for free. On the other hand, if you’ve not yet tried out Buzzshot, you can use it for 14 days completely free. With the new year just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start something new.

Buzzshot on the Road

Looking back, 2023 was also a year for meeting interesting new escape room enthusiasts, owners and operators from all around the world. In fact, we made it one of our goals to visit as many of the escape room communities around the world. But to do that - it meant travelling! Great for us, not quite as great for our office plants.

In 2023, we had the privilege of participating in and attending a number of exciting events, including:

Transworld Room Escape Show: First up in the year, we attended the Transworld Room Escape Show in the USA with a booth showcasing all that Buzzshot has to offer for escape rooms worldwide. It was fantastic to see so many owners at the show, and we’re thrilled to have met and had discussions with them all.

Carl & Tom at Transworld Room Escape Show

Reality Escape Con (remote): Embracing the virtual realm, RECON returned digitally and we once again sponsored the show and showcased our own digital booth on the RECON discord. There, we engaged with industry leaders and enthusiasts, and shared in a wealth of insights and experiences.

Salon de L'Escape Game: For our first time, we visited the French escape room show in Lyon as a member of the press (as part of our work on Escape Industry News). France has a booming escape room market, and the community is as fantastic as ever. It was an excellent chance for us to visit, network, and see the latest innovations from Europe.

Escape Industry News at the Salon de L’Escape Game

Right now we’re planning all the events we’ll be attending for 2024. Likely many of the ones from this list, but if there’s any we’ve missed or you’d love to meet us at - please do let us know!

Celebrating YOUR Escape Room Wins

So, we love celebrating our wins, yes… But there’s something we enjoy even more than that. It’s celebrating your wins! Yes, yours!

As we write this round up, the 2023 TERPECA (Top Escape Room Project Enthusiast Choice Awards) winners have just been announced, and we’re incredibly proud to have spotted more than a few Buzzshot users on that list.

Of course, each and every one of the escape rooms on the list deserves our fullest congratulations, it’s just the icing on the cake for us to know we played a small part in helping to deliver a brilliant player experience this year. So, an extra big congratulations from us to our partners’ fantastic escape rooms, including

  • De Gouden Kooi

    • #5 “De Wraak Van Han”

  • Escaparium

    • #4 “The Forgotten Cathedral”

    • #7 “Wardrobe for For Sale”

    • #28 “The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen”

  • Trivium Games

    • #43 “Ghost Patrol”

  • Palace Games

    • #58 “The Attraction”

    • #72 “The Edison Escape Room”

  • The Room

    • #90 “The Lost Treasure of Alexander Von Humboldt”

  • Immersia

    • #98 “Project R.E.S.E.T.”

Mairi (Left)’s team photo from the Forgotten Cathedral at Escaparium in April 2023

What’s next for Escape Rooms in 2024?

After a tumultuous past few years, it’s amazing to see the escape room industry bounce back so brightly in 2023. From the lockdown of 2020, to the pivot to play at home games in 2021, to the gradual reopening of rooms in 2022, to many new immersive experiences that are bigger and better than ever this 2023. It’s been a slow but steady recovery, but we’re hopeful for the continued success in 2024 and beyond.

Predicting the future is always difficult- no, impossible. But from the innovative technology we’ve seen at conventions, to chatting to many owners over the year, we expect the new year to bring a few likely transformations.

Competitions like TERPECAs have become all the more competitive each year on year, and the winners are those unique rooms that push the boundaries of what is possible in the genre. Larger spaces, more creative uses of technology, non-traditional formats, and immersive storytelling.

Replayability also continues to be a challenge for many escape room owners. It’s even a topic we’ve touched upon on the Buzzshot blog many times: How do you encourage players to come back once they’ve completed all your rooms? Some escape rooms are tackling this challenge head on with replayable rooms, or using technology to change experiences each time, others are diversifying into different experiences.

Another thing to consider is that one of the biggest technology leaps we’ve seen in the past 12 months has been the widespread use of AI, and some escape rooms are already beginning to utilise this in their escape room workflow. This could be indicative of one of the biggest trends 2024 may bring, as the escape room and immersive industries use the technology in more creative ways.

Whilst we can’t say for certain what the escape room landscape will look like in a year’s time, those are just a few of the things we’re excited to see unfold. Regardless, Buzzshot will be there supporting escape room owners and operators, every step of the way.

“I'm excited to continue pushing Buzzshot forward and our customers remain an absolute delight to work with and create software for.”

Tom Parslow, Owner of Buzzshot

Thank you for your support!

That’s all for us this year! But, before we sign off - we want to express our gratitude. 2023 was a great year for Buzzshot, but we couldn’t have done it without the enthusiastic support of all of our users. So from all of us, thank you.

Whether a user of Buzzshot, Telescape, or just an escape room enthusiast keeping our whole industry alive, you’ve been nothing short of brilliant this year. So here’s to you! And here’s to escaping 2023 in style.

From all of us at Buzzshot.

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