How Hotels can profit from Pokémon Go

“Pokémon Go: What is it, and how can my hotel profit from it?” by Jamie Patterson originally appeared on Hotelier Hub UK on July 15, 2016 and was reprinted and adapted with permission. Hotelier Hub UK is Trivago’s blog for hotel managers and THE place to learn about metasearch and hotel marketing. You can find the original post here!

As I’m writing this, Pokémon GO is being downloaded in the UK faster than you can say “Bob’s your uncle”. Chances are pretty good that by the time you start reading this, your street is enjoying an increase in foot traffic. Not because it’s summer, but because there’s something bringing people (and their cell phones) together, and luring them all out into the streets.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Take a look out of your front window or down the alleyway. Notice a bunch of people huddled together looking at their phones? How about over by the old church or next to the statues in the centre of town?

Ah, yes. Now you see them. Those packs of people leaning on the wall by the town’s ashen war memorial, looking at their smartphone and chatting animatedly.

Those people represent the biggest opportunity for your hotel business this summer. So take a good look at them. They’re probably at a PokéStop or a PokéGym. And if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, I’m here to explain.

Rather than just writing off Pokémon GO as some fad for teenagers who think socializing is taking selfies on Snapchat, pay attention. I am going to walk you through the basics of Pokémon GO as it relates to your hotel, and then I’ll give you a couple ways to directly capitalise on its soaring popularity.

What is Pokémon GO?

Pokémon GO is a free-to-play game available via a mobile app that leverages GPS and AR (augmented reality). The game is being released in stages by gaming tycoon Nintendo and is being developed by the Google-backed joint venture Niantic.

This modern take on the classic RPG (role playing game) Pokémon is called Pokémon GO. It utilises Google’s GPS, bringing the gaming world and real life together through AR. This makes it exceptionally unique. Contributing to the hype is the fact that the average person can access this AR experience free of charge. What’s more, is that it’s based on a relatable set of characters brought back to life from the nostalgic childhood of the Millennial population.

The gateway to it all is the app. Through it, Pokémon trainers (players) are brought together and sent off to rediscover their hometowns and to explore new locales on their quests to virtually “catch” Pokémon (mystical cartoon creatures).

Are any businesses benefitting from this craze?

Pokémon GO may have just been released in the UK and in Italy mid-July, but by now it’s also available in Germany, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. And the impact it’s had on local businesses in this short time, particularly in the hospitality and travel sector, is inspiring.

First of all, the game revolves around the goal of collecting all of the Pokémon by “catching ‘em all”.

Because it’s an AR concept, players have to use the app to see where Pokemon are hiding in everyday life. Pokémon are now found in and around various pre-existing POIs (points of interest). You know, like historical monuments, museums, public works of art, and the like. These areas are known as PokéStops.

What are PokéStops and PokéGyms anyway?

Here players can collect in-game goodies like “candy” to make their Pokémon stronger. The stops have been pre-determined through Ingress, another AR game by the same development team. Although many stops are significant cultural POIs, there’s also a host of public buildings, cafes, bars, and even homes that are PokéStops.

And your hotel might be one too. If so, you’re sitting on a mini goldmine.

Some restaurants in the US realised very quickly, that their businesses were PokéStops and have been quick to capitalise. Other companies are benefiting just by having mere proximity to a stop. One such venue reported that it’s seen a significant increase in foot traffic since the game released and that drink sales are up by 30 percent.

If your lodgings are a stop, you’ll know. There will be people coming by in droves soon enough.

In addition to stops, there are PokéGyms. These are places where gamers can train their Pokémon and make them strong and “battle ready”. They can compete in friendly competitions with other trainers (players) of the same team (there are three teams worldwide) or can engage in “battles to the death” with opposing forces.

Either way, Pokémon GO and PokéGyms provide a huge business opportunity to you.

How do I get my hotel in on the Pokémon Go action?

There are numerous ways in which you can join in on the fun and grow your profits at the same time. First things first, I suggest that you download the app and see firsthand what it looks like. If you want a sneak peak, check out the official game trailer.

After you’ve got a better idea of what the hype is about, let locals Know with a Sandwich Board and classic advertising!

Sometimes the simplest approach to advertising and marketing is the best. Although this game is available from everywhere from Down Under to America to Europe—with plans to launch in Asia soon—it’s still highly local. It’s encouraging people to get out of their homes (and offices) and into the streets of their communities to rediscover cultural assets, where subsequently, they may find Pokémon. In the US, we’ve already seen museums that had been struggling to survive enjoy surges in guests and foot traffic because they happen to be stops. So let passers-by know if you’re a stop or a gym. If you’re not, offer deals to game players to encourage them to visit.

For example:

On your quest to “catch ‘em all”? Stop by for a refreshment in our hotel bar and enjoy a Pokémon trainer exclusive discount.

You can try other messages too. This game is played on smartphones and presumably, takes up a considerable amount of battery power. Encourage players to recharge at your hotel with a message like this:

En route to the next PokéStop and your battery’s about to die? We’ve got charging cables for (enter phone types here). Come on in and borrow one for a while.

Phone chargers have never been more affordable, so I suggest you stock up on several major varieties.

So, are you already out to “catch ‘em all” when it comes to converting players into patrons?

Visit our knowledge section to find more tips and tricks on how to bring more customers into your hotel by utilising the newest tech trends like WhatsApp, or excisting proven tools like our review management solution Review Analytics!