Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Hospitality Industry Embraces Pokémon GO

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Hospitality Industry Embraces Pokémon GO https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/pokemongo0716b.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

There’s no escaping Pokémon GO.

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island, it’s nearly impossible not to know that the Pokémon GO craze has taken the world by storm like no other smartphone game. And smart restaurants and hotels are finding ways to attract the game’s devotees to their premises as paying customers.

So, how do you attract Pokémon GO players?

“The biggest thing you need to do today is to set up an account and start playing,” Ryan Goff, social media marketing director at MGH, a Baltimore-based marketing and communications agency representing foodservice clients, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “If you’ve never experienced the game, you’re not going to understand how to speak to its users. Immerse yourself in the experience and start thinking of reasons why a Pokémon user would not only visit your location, but would then make a purchase.”

Once you experience the game for yourself, you’ll realize that it’s all about capturing creatures called Pokémon.

Want to draw foot traffic to your location? Set up a Lure Module – an in-game item that can be purchased at a minimal expense – and turn your premises into a PokeStop.

“[A Lure Module] attracts Pokémon to a PokeStop for 30 minutes, benefiting anyone in proximity to that location,” said Goff. “Users are naturally drawn to those locations through a graphic that notifies them of the PokeStop and promise of catching new Pokémon. Once a user has acquired a module, he/she must visit a PokeStop to activate the item. Once placed, Pokémon are attracted to the module for 30 minutes. To my knowledge, there is no limit to the number of times a Lure Module can be placed in a single day.”

Goff also has ideas about how restaurants can promote themselves to Pokémon GO players.

“Make sure you’re speaking the language of the game’s players,” Goff said. “[You might say] ‘Get 10 percent off your check if you’re Team Mystic!’ or ‘There may or may not be a Pikachu [one of the most famous Pokémon characters] hiding in or around our restaurant today.’”

Other ideas include hosting a Pokémon party with food and drink specials, or you may want to offer existing happy hour specials. It’s also smart to encourage your guests to share photos of Pokémon they’ve spotted in the restaurant on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Choosing Pokémon photos on a weekly basis to win a gift card can encourage user-generated content and repeat business.

And creating a Pokémon-inspired menu item or drink to attract fans of the game is always a good idea. Spotlight your chef or mixologists’ creativity while getting Pokémon devotees interested enough to come in and try it.

One Seattle chain that has fully embraced the Pokémon GO phenomenon is Tom Douglas Restaurants.

“Here at Tom Douglas, we saw the opportunity,” Herschell Taghap, Tom Douglas’ digital marketing manager, told Washington Restaurant Market Watch. “A lot of our team members are playing the game, so we asked ourselves ‘How can we get involved?’”

Among the ideas the Tom Douglas team put into action were an Instagram “Bread Pikachu” contest that randomly selects winners from the three different teams. At Café Lena, lures were dropped above the restaurant to promote its breakfast burrito program. And Serious Pie & Biscuit also reached out to Pokémon players.

And it is not just restaurants that are getting into the Pokémon GO craze.

“[Hotel] establishments have reported increased sales and more clients just with the existence of the app, meaning the augmented reality app is changing more than this industry, but our way to discover cities, places, socialize and even consume,” François Bonvin, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Base7Booking.com wrote on Hospitality Net. “Attracting Pokémon GO users and monetizing their activity can be easily done if you know how the game works.”

Seemingly, the sky is the limit for this craze. There’s no good reason for your business to not get its own piece of the Pokémon action.