Gotta catch ’em all…your potential hotel guests that is.
Unless you happen to live in the Mushroom Kingdom with Mario and Princess Peach, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of media attention that is being given to the latest Nintendo mobile app, Pokemon Go. The location-based augmented reality game based on the popular video game franchise has become a worldwide phenomenon since it’s release on July 6th, 2016.
If you’re thinking that Pokemon Go is just a fad, think again. This is a franchise that’s been around for more than 20 years, has sold millions of copies on various video game platforms and is published by one of the world’s most beloved brands, Nintendo (Technically, it’s ‘The Pokemon Company’, but that’s essentially owned by Nintendo). The game also combines several ingredients that make it compelling and contagious: collecting, competing and discovery. The fact that it encourages people to go outside and exercise is also a major positive.
In less than a week, Pokemon Go has reportedly already become the most popular mobile app game of all time and has even overtaken Twitter in number of daily active users. The astonishing success has caused Nintendo stock to skyrocket.
Whether you understand it or whether you think it’s ridiculous for grown men and women to traipse all over your town looking for imaginary creatures, you should know one thing. Pokemon Go is here to stay and your hotel should take advantage of the hype surrounding this never-before-seen spectacle. Here are some tactics that your property should consider implementing immediately.
1. Promote Your Hotel’s PokeStop or Gym
There are two types of fixed location within the game. The first is called a PokeStop. This is a place or a building of note within your city. It could be a church, a museum, a historic building etc. Sometimes, it can even be a hotel. These PokeStops are important for people playing the game because players can frequently visit these locations to stock up on supplies such as PokeBalls, eggs and potions (all of which are essential elements to the game). If your property doesn’t have it’s own PokeStop, hopefully you do have one nearby.
The second type of fixed location is called a ‘gym’. These are places where players can battle other players and take control of that gym for their team.
Regardless of whether either of those types of location make sense to you or not, just be aware that both types of fixed location are a big deal and will attract Pokemon players.
NOTE: There is not currently a way to request a PokeStop or a Gym at your location if you do not have one. However, the New York Times and other outlets are reporting that there are plans underway to update the app and allow businesses to advertise within the game in the form of sponsored locations. Advertisers will be charged on a “cost per visit” basis. No word on when this may be released.
2. Lure People to Your Property
A “Lure Module” is an item that can be placed on PokeStops. Once activated, lure modules will attract Pokemon to your location. Consider buying lure modules for your hotel (they are available as an in-app purchase) and advertising a time each day that you’ll be hosting a Lure Party. If your property is on or near a PokeStop, hosting a lure party could be a great way to bring players to your onsite bar or restaurant.
Each lure remains active for 30 minutes, but you can use multiple lures in succession to create a longer event. Perhaps you could combine the Lure Party with special offers or discounts on food and beverage. Or maybe you could tie the number of lures you place to the number of sales you make. This would encourage people to tell others about it.
3. Promote a Gym Battle Tournament
Perhaps your hotel is closer to a Gym than a PokeStop. In that case, there’s another way you can incentivize players to come patronize your property. Advertise that you’ll be hosting a tournament in advance, perhaps even offering discounts to gym battle winners. Then, on game day, players who successfully become gym leaders will be entitled to that discount.
4. Social Sharing of Pokemon
Offer guests an on-property discount to take a screenshot of a Pokemon in your hotel or bar or restaurant and then post it on social media with a tag to your property. This will show other players that you have rare or exotic Pokemon and may entice them to stay with you or come on property and spend money on food and beverage. You may also want to aggregate this user-generated content on your website.
5. Host a Daily Pokemon Hunt Around Your Property
Schedule a time each day where players can gather and then explore your property together to find new Pokemon. This is something that any property can do because it is not contingent on the proximity of gyms or PokeStops. All you have to do is advertise the date and time of your family-friendly Pokemon Hunt, wait for players to gather, and then depart together for a stroll around your property or nearby area. Your staff might even join the hunters and give away prizes for the players who catch the first or the rarest Pokemon.
6. Have Fun with Screenshots of Pokemon at Your Hotel
One of the best things to come out of Pokemon Go is the wave of hilarious screenshots of Pokemon being found in strange or bizarre locations. Spend some time finding Pokemon in your rooms, in your pools, sitting in your restaurant, at your front desk etc. Then post these images to social media, post them on a page on your hotel website and have some fun with it. For example: “Check it out: Pikachu checked into our hotel today”, accompanied by an image of a reservationist handing the Pokemon a keycard.
7. Declare Your Property “Pokemon-Friendly”
Ok, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but hear me out. This is news-jacking 101. Every local, regional and national media outlet is looking for an angle to talk about Pokemon Go right now. If you make a big proclamation on your website and social media and send out a press release about how Pokemon Friendly you are, you will potentially get some media coverage. This could not only boost local awareness, but could result in some very valuable inbound links to your website. You can add a little meat to the story by implementing some of the ideas above to show how Pokemon friendly you really are. Or, you could go even further and do something like adding charging stations throughout the property (one of the biggest complaints about Pokemon Go is that it severely drains your phone’s battery) or mapping out all of the local PokeStops and Gyms. .
You may not understand it and you may not like it, but there’s an opportunity here like never before. There’s simply never been a craze that’s taken off so quickly and across so many demographics. This is unprecedented territory and there’s no reason why your hotel shouldn’t benefit from it.
If you’d like to learn more about Pokemon Go, my suggestion is to download the app and play around with it. If you simply refuse to jump on the bandwagon but wish to know more, here is a good overview of the game from BuzzFeed
Pokemon Go is available from the Google and Apple app store.
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