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Pokémon Go craze is opportunity for hotels

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What hoteliers can do to boost business using the game
The Pokémon Go craze sweeping the world offers hoteliers a chance to engage guests, even if their properties are not ‘landmarks’ for the multigenerational mobile-device game, says travel tech company Sabre.
Over the last week, Pokémon Go has shot to the top of the mobile app sales charts, been covered by every media company from ABC to Zee News and was even co-opted by the US presidential campaigns. But beyond the hype, the game can benefit a hotel business.
In the smartphone game, players walk around the real world to hunt and capture Pokémon pocket monsters which appear on their GPS- and internet-connected device.
They then breed and train their Pokémon to engage in battles with other players for control of in-game locations.
The game is a loose form of ‘augmented reality’, where digital content is layered over real urban or natural landscapes. For instance, the fountain of a hotel near Sabre headquarters acts as an in-game landmark where players can pick up items.
It’s easy to notice a sharp uptick in people walking around, staring at their phones, their trance punctuated by intermittent shouts of excitement. These people may or may not be guests at a hotel property, but Pokémon Go landmarks, or Pokéstops or ‘gyms’, include random locations like lampposts or flights of stairs.
People are, or soon will be, searching hotel properties and grounds for the elusive Pokémon.
Sabre advises that a staff member should join Pokémon Go to find out if the hotel is, or is near, a game landmark. If the hotel is within 40 metres of one, this dramatically increases the chances of Pokémon Go players coming through the hotel property.
Currently there is no easy way to become a landmark, but organiser Niantic has announced it is working on in-game advertising and sponsored locations.
In any case, Sabre suggests that hotels educate staff about Pokémon Go and have a consistent stance about the game. “We recommend that you encourage play, but have consistent policies on reasonable playtimes for various public areas and require parental supervision; after all you don’t want young children sneaking into the pool area alone after midnight in hopes of capturing a nocturnal water Pokémon.”
Hotels can also “create a map and/or educate the concierge on the locations of Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms in nearby areas, and advertise this information to guests. Concurrently, make sure guests know of areas to avoid; thieves are already targeting Pokémon Go users because they are wandering off the beaten path while focused on their phones”.
Sabre adds: “If you are near a landmark, consider setting up a Pokémon ‘lure’, an in-game object that costs a little over a dollar per hour, to attract extra Pokémon to a particular location. Many businesses, particularly restaurants, have reported significant upticks in sales by using Pokémon lures to attract real-world customers who are chasing Pokémon.”
It also suggests to hoteliers: “Offer a contest or small perk to guests who use your hashtag when sharing out pictures of Pokémon caught at your hotel – and keep an eye on social media so you can re-share great pictures, particularly of rare Pokémon. A rare Pokémon sighting at your hotel will likely bring a flood of people – both guests and potential guests.”
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