So, more than a few places (safe to say most) like to have a full capacity of people booked into a room. And why not? I mean, it’s economically sound as you can fit people in together if it fits the room capacity it’s set to. Like if a group of five book for a room made to hold eight, it would only make sense that you can still have the room/time slot open for three more people to hit that capacity, right? Well, yes and no. It’s not like a restaurant will seat you at a booth for two people, and then seat two more with you (as a booth usually fits 4-6 people) as it can be quite awkward (unless you go to a Chinese restaurant, where that’s common). And that’s what it comes down to: Will it be fun escaping a room with people you don’t know.
I mean, it’s not like you can’t make friends, or that maybe they’ll be the biggest help if it’s your first room. It’s also a matter of the people in your group as well. I mean, if it’s the first time experience, wouldn’t you want to do it with friends and people you want to share the experience with? I’ve had good, mediocre and great times with random people, myself. Did a single’s night at one once and it was a room of nothing but strangers. I’ve heard the stories though: people divided into two groups in a room and having to work together but refusing and spent an hour doing nothing, not talking to anyone other than to the people they knew or just causing a stink about booking a room made for eight but only for just two people.
You don’t have to be friends before or after, it’s not necessary. I doubt I’ve even ever seen any of the Randos (what we call them) after the room. Maybe we scared them off, who knows. But, you would think that you have that common interest to do an escape room and to have fun and that could be enough, like joining a sports team or something. I mean, normally. For 90% of all the Randos we’ve been paired with, it was their first time doing a room ever. Sometimes it does help, considering we’ve done so many rooms we tend to think of things done in previous rooms and how they work. This leads to us over thinking things frequently and having a different point of view is actually really helpful. Everyone will have their strengths in certain areas of problem solving, but sometimes you’re missing the one piece or can’t see the bigger picture when you’re worried about the small details. Not to mention team names. We made leaderboard once and so what do we call ourselves? Something random, not memorable and nothing we’d ever go back to using.
The Locked Room, for us at least, is pretty notorious for doing this. Most of our experiences with Randos are from here. Not to say they’re the only one, as we’ve had similar experiences in Level 1 as well. All of the escape room locations (with the exception of one so far) use Bookeo as their online booking service. They usually list the room and number of players it can hold. If a room can hold “6”, but it say it can fit “3” at 4:30 but it can hold “6” at 5:30, then that means three people are already booked for 4:30 and you’d be joining three other people if you choose that time slot. The only location we’ve done that doesn’t do Randos is Escape Hour. They hate the idea of booking Randos, and if you book with four people for an eight people room, it’ll just be you four. They don’t want your money per se, as they’re not looking to make the maximum amount of money they can and rather have you enjoy your time with your own group. Which can also leave you at a disadvantage if you’re doing two people in a 10 person room, but that’s your choice.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like they’re a hindrance (unless you’re that group split into two and have work together) but more of a distraction. Something to take your attention away from what you’re doing to what they’re doing. Now, I’m saying this a someone who has solidified roles and expectations with two separate groups of escape room enthusiasts, and I’m sure to them WE’RE the Randos so it’s all perspective. Myself, I’m not an immediate fan of it, but I can work with it. More or less: I want to do the room with the people I want to do the room with, or I want to have the room where everyone is at the same disadvantage and all be strangers. Anything in between I can deal with.