Monsters are running wild all over the world since Pokémon Go launched at the start of July, and it’s up to you to catch them all. But businesses shouldn’t be obsessing about catching elusive cartoon figures, instead they should be focusing on how to “catch” and keep customers by using this game to their advantage.
Pokémon Go is a free Android and IOS game by Nintendo based on the popular franchise of movies, series, trading cards, and video games.
Millennials grew up collecting and throwing Pokémon Tazos, watching young Ash try to catch all the pocket monsters on televisions. Fast-forward twenty years, add the latest augmented reality to smartphones and take the game on the go, hooking both the nostalgic older generations, and young smartphone junkies.
But what if this monster game craze can boost your business? Coffee shops, restaurants, museums, and any businesses located near PokéStops (that’s where you can collect items for your backpack), PokéGyms (where you can battle for territory or train your monsters), or areas where rare Pokémon are known to be found, are seeing increased footfall.
“People actually sit outside and drop lures, and we have people sitting for hours over weekends just drinking coffee and making an event of it,” says Edward Serfontein, manager of Twigs with Beans in Claremont, Cape Town – located in reach of a whole three PokéStops.
Placing a “lure” (for a full half hour of increased Pokémon appearances) means keeping players in your establishment for longer, attracting nearby players. Potential players mean potential new customers. If you know a rare Pokémon has been found in your establishment, tell the world, because customers tend to stick around to see if it appears.
Plenty of businesses are already cashing in on the craze, such as Beerhouse in central Cape Town, for example, where you can present a screenshot of your recently-captured Pokémon at the bar and receive “Poke discounts” on selected beers in return.
Protea Hotels Fire & Ice! by Marriott® in Melrose Arch has a PokéStop at their Milkshake Bar where you can catch a Pokémon and get a free milkshake.
“We have informed our staff that people on their phones might be coming to the milkshake bar. They will be offered a free milkshake and get a chance to enter a competition to win a couple of milkshake vouchers for the winner and friends. The co-ordinates are such that you don’t have to walk all the way to the bar to be in distance of the stop, but it’s worth the extra few steps for the real life rewards,” says Cecile Boshoff, Marketing Manager for the Hotel.
Nicholas Barenblatt, Group Marketing Manager for Protea Hotels by Marriott and African Pride Hotels, says many of their guests in their hotels countrywide are taking advantage of the game as a way of exploring the area they are staying in.
“We are seeing many of our guests leaving on foot to explore the nearby area for PokéStops or PokéGyms. It’s a great way to see the sights of a city that is new to you, or perhaps find areas or attractions you may not have known about before,” says Barenblatt.
Marriott International has seen a spike in posts on social media from their thousands of hotels globally featuring Pokémon in bedrooms, restaurants, or poolside.
Senior Director of Global Creative + Content Marketing at Marriott International, Matthew Glick, says the system has “turned the tables from creating general content distributed to thousands of guests — to listening and leveraging a single moment that’s relevant and shareable between thousands of guests.”
Like any digital craze, this one will fade too. But the lesson to learn from it, is that businesses need to stay aware of any new trends, because the next global game could make you some serious money.