Vietnamese Student Association at Louisiana State University

Most Outstanding Social Event - Escape Room

Provide a detailed description of the event and the population it served. Details MUST include: date of event, number of participants, program purpose (goals, objectives, etc.), use of resources (finances, community support, etc.), and marketing techniques.

VSA-LSU created and put on two Escape Rooms, each with their own unique themes and puzzles. An escape room is a physical game, usually following a storyline, where a team of players has to solve riddles and puzzles using clues, objects, and their brains to reach an objective. The purpose of escape rooms is to create a challenging environment that forces a team to work and think together to reach a collective goal while having fun. Our rooms both had time limits of 60 minutes, so if a team did not successfully reach their objective within that time, they have failed to escape. The puzzles were a wide range of activities, from being physically demanding like building a human pyramid to thinking outside the box with word puzzles.
The event was on February 17, 2018 (Saturday). Forty-two (42) people showed up between the times of 10AM-6PM, and the last room was scheduled to end at 7:10PM. Our two rooms went on simultaneously, and there were six time slots for each. Our E-board split in half, which each half getting a room. The funds for this event came straight from VSA-LSU as we know it wouldn’t take too much for an escape room, so we set a budget for each room of $60, which went toward puzzles, props, and decorations.
The themes for the rooms were ‘Stranger Things’ for one, and ‘Toy Story’ for the other. Although they were themed, participants did not need any prior knowledge of the stories to complete the puzzles. Each room was handcrafted to have puzzles, decorations, and general environment relevant to the theme. For example, the Toy Story room was decorated to be rooms in Andy’s house, and the Stranger Things rooms looked like the Upside Down and Hawkins Middle School.
Our main source of marketing was Instagram posts, which got shared to Facebook. We had a general announcement and introduction 2 weeks before the event. In this post, we advertised the price for each room and a deal for participating in both rooms, which saved them a bit of money. A few days following that, we had theme reveals, which were graphics with the title and elements relating to them (e.g. blue sky and clouds from Toy Story, lights from Stranger Things). We posted countdowns starting three days before the event. Each post was a graphic showing number of days left with elements from each theme.

What efforts were used to motivate and involve the organization's members?

A typical escape room can range from $20 and up per person to participate, but ours costs a nice $5 for non-members and $3 for members per person per room. We had a deal where if attendees wanted to participate in both rooms, it was only $8 for non-members and $5 for members for both rooms, which saves them a bit of money. We encouraged people to sign up even if they didn’t have a predetermined group to go with as we would have a spot for them in other groups.

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the event?

Our E-Board started the planning process exactly 2 months before the event, with the first step being brainstorming ideas for themes. We had a strict schedule with deadlines to follow, as to not wait until the last second and be overwhelmed. The deadlines included picking a theme, planning a certain number of puzzles, getting decorations, etc. Since the E-Board was split in half, each group had five members, but it was still difficult coordinating meetings. Most of the time, at least one person wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting in person, so we would end up meeting and hosting them on Google Hangout. Two weeks before the actual event, we had a dry run that was planned to last a few hours. It ended up lasting almost the entire day. We spent that day figuring out the logistics for the real deal and fine tuning our puzzles so they weren’t too hard or too easy. Our main form of communication during the event was over Slack. The only real setback was if guests arrived late, but we adapted by simply pushing the schedule back, which worked well. We still had plenty of time to fit in a lunch break for the E-Board, so we could gather our thoughts and be rejuvenated for the rest of the day.