If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go, I’d be a bit surprised. It’s the Augmented Reality app that’s currently taking the world by storm. It’s only been around for just over a week yet the app already has double the engagement of Snapchat and has outstripped Twitter in the percentage of users who are actively using it daily. In fact all the statistics are pretty astonishing. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in the creators’ offices to hear how they are reacting to their game’s success.

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Pokémon Go is a game where users journey through the real world with app in hand searching for Pokémon to capture. Along the way they’ll come across Poke Stops where they can collect free goodies and discover gyms where they can engage their Pokémon in battle. People are seriously on the move in their quest for Pokémon domination and it’s a trend that businesses should be capitalising on. Hospitality venues are particularly well positioned to garner more business as a result of the craze.

But how?

The first thing you should be doing is downloading the app and checking out if your business is a location of a Poke Stop or gym. If so, this is great news as you don’t have to do much to attract the crowds – they will naturally come hunting. However, it helps if you let people know that you’ve got a Pokémon Go location on your doorstep. A mention in your email newsletter (feature it in the subject heading!) and a post on Facebook letting people know that you’ve got a Poke Stop or Gym onsite is enough to bring people flocking. Post a screenshot of the Poke Stop or Gym to prove its legitimacy. Mention it on a sandwich board outside your business and you could even get creative by offering a deal specifically for people who are Pokémon hunting in the area. Use Facebook ad targeting to reach a very local audience with your Facebook posts.

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To see if you’ve got a Poke Stop or Gym near you, log into the app and go for a quick walk around your venue. A Poke Stop will appear as a 3D square floating above a platform while a gym is a much bigger structure with a large Pokémon floating above. You can’t miss it.

The next thing to do is explore inside and outside your venue for Pokémon. Make a note of where they are and you particularly want to look out for rare Pokémon as these will be most appealing to Pokémon hunters. Once you’ve tracked them down, let people know how many Pokémon you’ve come across at your venue. Don’t give too much away as Pokémon locations change all the time and you you don’t want to spoil the fun but look at creating special offers and incentives for people who can ‘catch them all’. 

If you want to get serious about attracting some significant foot traffic and your business is close to a Poke Stop then take advantage of the in-app purchases and throw down a Lure. Lures attract Pokémon to areas around Poke Stops for a time period of half an hour and they’re guaranteed to draw in people who are looking to increase their stash of Pokémon. Yes, it means parting with some dollars but it doesn’t take much investment to test it out. A lure costs 100 Pokecoins, the equivalent of $1.49 or buy Pokecoins in bulk to make them more affordable. $150 will get you 14,500 Pokecoins. That could keep you going with lures for 84 hours which is about $1.78 an hour. Not a big hourly investment to increase the number of customers flocking to your door. Just head to the ‘Shop’ section of your app to purchase.

If there’s a Gym near your venue then you’re really in luck as people congregate around Gyms to battle other teams and take control of the gym. Gyms give you even greater opportunity to use Pokémon Go in real life marketing. You could mention on your sandwich board which team (Mystic, Valor or Instinct) currently controls the gym to encourage competition.  Why not offer a discount to anyone who manages to take over the Gym? They’ll let you know so you don’t need to be checking for yourself and what a great way of encouraging Pokémon Go players to come into your venue while they’re playing.

Of course Pokemon Go isn’t for everyone and it’s important not to go overboard and alienate your customers who aren’t playing. Feeling left out is a sure fire way to put anyone off a business. So don’t use all these techniques at once, try them out and see what works for your business. Happy hunting!

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