Hot new gaming craze Pokemon Go has plenty of applications for the tourism industry, says Ginger Juice’s managing director Bruce Martin.
Dad, PLEASE can we go for a long walk together?”
Well, that’s a first! Welcome to the crazy world of Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm rocketing to 20 million users and boasting more daily users than Twitter, Tinder, and even Google Maps.
For the uninitiated, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality smartphone game, which rewards players for catching virtual “pocket monsters” in the real world. In other words, you walk around trying to catch imaginary creatures for fun.
I know this all sounds a little ridiculous, but it’s caught on like wildfire and is not showing any signs of slowing down. Need proof? Take a walk around your town, especially near key landmarks; I bet you’ll see lots of people standing around looking at their phones.
Ok, so what on earth has this got to do with the travel industry? According to Hotels.com, British holidaymakers heading abroad this summer will spend four hours per day Pokemon hunting, compared with just three hours spent sunbathing, while 55% will choose their next destination because it’s a Pokestop hotspot (a place that lets users collect items such as Poke Balls to capture more Pokemon).
Landmarks are therefore a key part of Pokemon Go. Real-life landmarks are often important virtual locations in the game, which attract players to visit them. Smart tourism organisations have caught on quickly and have been embracing their new-found crowd-pulling power.
New Pokemon Go-friendly walking routes have been published by tourism boards around the world and cities such as Boston, Brisbane, Manchester, London and Doncaster have announced special Pokemon Picnic events – all designed to get people out to enjoy their cities.
Ginger Juice is working with a soon-to-launch tourism business called York Tuk Tuks, offering eco-friendly tours of the city.
Alongside regular sightseeing tours, the business is planning to offer a special Pokemon route.
Pokemon offers local businesses the opportunity to attract people to their location by placing virtual “lures” at a nearby “Pokestop”. Lures generate multiple Pokemon, and people flock to them. If you run a cafe, tourist attraction or even a travel agency that is near to a Pokestop, it might be a good idea to try this tactic – many local business owners have been reporting some success already.
Local business will soon be able to request to become Pokestops, which is great news for those off the beaten track.
The Hotels.com research, which was based on a survey of 500 British “millenials”, also found that when it comes to choosing a hotel, millennials cared more about free Wi-Fi to play Pokemon Go (64%) than about a free breakfast (37%), while 15% even admitted they’d choose one hotel over another because one was a Pokestop and 23% said they would choose a hotel just because it offered free lures.
We can expect makers Nintendo- Niantic to launch new features such as special attraction-themed characters or rewards for visiting tourism attractions. Maybe we’ll even see World Travel Market exhibitors luring people to visit their stand.