As today is our second birthday, we (Co-owners Phil and Philly Harris) thought we’d look back at the defining moments of the last two years.
We opened on 29th March 2018, with one room (The Pavilion Perplex) and one employee (Rory), alongside us two. Now on 29th March 2020 we have five rooms, a regular pop-up experience at Preston Manor and over 20 employees. Pier Pressure has become a monster that we can’t tame (but we wouldn’t really want to if we could ?)
Pier Pressure is dreamt (01/04/2017)
The idea for Pier Pressure was born on 1st April 2017, when we played an escape room in Southampton. It was already our second game but we hadn’t appreciated just how different each escape game experience is and after experiencing a second game, we were hooked! On our way home we started fantasising about what themes we would create and thinking of puzzles. Within a couple of weeks, we had put together a business plan, worked out how to fund the whole thing and found the perfect premises. The major bump in the road came in the shape and form of Brighton and Hove Council’s Planning Department. The premises we had secured needed a change of use, for which we needed to apply with the planning committee. Our rush of excitement and work on Pier Pressure ground to a halt, as we waited for months and months for a decision. Our lives were on hold and we prayed that our dream of owning our own escape room would come true.
Planning Committee Hearing (13/12/2017)
Getting the required planning permission was a long process and we were very nearly rejected. In the end it went to a planning committee hearing which is where city councillors are asked to consider and vote on planning decisions rather than just being decided by a planning officer and thankfully we were voted through unanimously by the committee. From us deciding to start Pier Pressure to this committee hearing, eight months passed, during which we fretted every day. Between those councillors they had the power to make our dream a reality or push us back by many many months work. We are still very grateful to all councillors who helped us at that stage.
Becoming ranked number one on TripAdvisor for the first time (30/07/2018)
Whilst it is far from an ideal platform, TripAdvisor is one of the only places that offers a ‘ranking’ system and so can give us an idea of how we are performing in terms of customer service vs other entertainment venues in the area. We knew it would be a long journey to climb up the rankings to sit amongst many places that had been established for years before us, so we were utterly blown away to find ourselves at the top of Brighton’s Fun and Games category only four months after we opened. We’ve always put a huge emphasis on customer experience and to see it rewarded this way gave us a huge confidence boost.
Expanding to a second location for Loot The Lanes (01/03/2019)
We were less than a year old and almost certainly not quite ready to expand our business, but a space became available in the basement of the Nowhere Man Café that was absolutely perfect for us. It is close enough that we don’t need to send customers to different locations (it is only 150m away so we still do welcomes and briefings in our main venue), and it was the perfect size for another big group game after our original bigger game, Modrophenia, had been so popular. One of the best things about it though, was that we had already started planning that the next game we designed was going to be set in Brighton’s Lanes and when we discovered this space it already had a cobbled floor… Perfect for our needs!
Extending our opening hours (20/06/2019)
After we had been open for a year we put in another planning request to extend our opening hours from the original 10am-8pm, to 9am-10pm which would increase our slot capacity by a third. This got approved and whilst we then had a pretty tough Summer with our core team (approx. 10 people at that stage) operating more hours than they were used to, we also went on a big recruitment drive and doubled our numbers of employees to be able to easily serve all these extra slots. This is one of the things that has made the biggest impact on us as a business and took us to over 20 staff which has changed our dynamics in a big way.
Being ranked as best escape room in the UK (21/12/2019)
Of course this was the biggest moment for us. We had no idea that Loot The Lanes was so highly rated, we had had good feedback and we had started noticing a trend of more people saying it was their favourite of our games but we never considered ourselves in the top few in the country, let alone the number one. But, according to the escape room enthusiasts’ choice awards (which we explain more here), Loot the Lanes was the top ranked escape room in the UK in 2019! We’re humbled, surprised and very grateful to our fantastic team of actors who really make the room come alive.
Shutting under Coronavirus (20/03/2020)
This is most certainly the weirdest and most unexpected chapter of Pier Pressure – having to close our doors just two years after opening for an undetermined time. As we sit here, at home and in self-isolation, reflecting on the past two years, it almost feels like the beginning again – our lives are on hold and we are waiting for the authorities to allow us to open. We are sad to not be running games and welcoming excited customers to our games. We miss being at Pier Pressure terribly and we can’t wait to open our doors again and welcome you all back for escape adventures!