HSMAI Digital Marketing Smarticle: Pokémon Go…Please Stay! - Knowledge Center - HSMAI
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
HSMAI Digital Marketing Smarticle: Pokémon Go…Please Stay!

Articles, advice, and insights from the HSMAI Digital Marketing Council

11 Things You Need to Know to Make the Most of Pokémon Go at your Hotel

Just one week ago, the augmented reality mobile gaming app called Pokémon Go was released by Nintendo. It is breaking records for downloads, participation, and stock growth, all while leading users of the app around their communities, including into hotels. If you have recently seen more people milling about your lobby and staring at their phone like it is a compass, then congratulations – you're probably one of the lucky hotels to have a Pokémon Go PokeStop or Gym.

In a nutshell, the game lays a semi-transparent Poké-world over an actual, geographical location (like your lobby).  The app user can then explore the area by physically walking around and finding Pokémon characters and interacting with them on their phone.  The idea behind the game is to get people to walk around in the real world while playing a virtual game on the phone. So, what is Pokémon Go?

In less than a week it's estimated that Pokémon Go has more daily users right now than Twitter.  And in the Apple App store the app has over 54K reviews (not downloads mind you). By comparison the Hilton and Marriott apps each have fewer than 5K reviews.

For hotels, this is a great opportunity. We view foot traffic as a good thing since every person who walks in your door is someone who is a potential future guest, meeting planner, or advocate through word of mouth and social media.

Although walking around is a key component to playing the game, there is also an element which encourages people to congregate and play together, so you may find people sitting in your lobby playing which has a compounding social effect.

Here are a couple of helpful guides:

What is a "PokeStop" or "Gym"?

PokeStops are points of interest located throughout the world. Each location gives players items in exchange for interacting with them in the app.

Gyms are locations where players can fight it out (virtually) for bragging rights for the gym. Many gyms are just that in real life – gyms (like the one in your hotel) or may be other points of interest.  Users may stay at the gym for a while to vie for supremacy.

PokeStops are designed for people to walk by, while gyms are destinations where players train and are more likely to sit and stay for a few minutes.

How do I know if I have a PokeStop or Gym in my hotel?

Because the locations are based on known areas, historical markers, public art installations, museums, and monuments, your hotel may be a “pokestop” or “gym.” Apart from downloading the app for yourself, there's not an easy way to tell yet since many maps are new and rely on crowdsourced information.  Here is the best site we've found thus far: http://map.pokego.no/. The easiest way to find out is to just ask someone playing the game – they can quickly provide you the details.

If your hotel is designated as a “gym,” you have the potential to see a lot more traffic, specifically repeat traffic of those trying to defend their “gym owner” status.

What should I do if I have one?

  • As of today (7/14/16), there is no way to remove, or add, your hotel. Locations are controlled by the developers of Pokémon Go, Nintendo, and Niantic, Inc., and are not able to be adjusted at this time.
  • Create signage to help players out. If getting to the pokestop or gym location within your hotel is a challenge, direct them to where you want them to go (in a fun/helpful way).
  • HAVE FUN with all the new people wandering through your hotel. Gamers are a connected community and word will get around if they do not feel welcome. Encourage your lobby ambassadors and front desk agents to be hospitable and even consider engaging people while playing. Despite being a game that's based in a virtual world, it's highly social and people playing may have very well met just before walking into your lobby.
  • Educate your staff – on where/how to help guests find the Pokémon.  
  • Educate staff on when a gathering of a group of people all staring at their phones would be a cool thing versus when it could become a security issue (and what to do if there looks to be something unsafe happening). Robbers have used the app to lure single people to remote locations, such as parking lots.
  • Create a quick press release on what you are doing with your Pokémon status.  Send it to local media and your clients, and post it on social media.
  • Get a screen shot of Pokémon in your hotel and share it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, etc.
  • Create a special, and post, signage about it, at your bar or restaurant (if you have one) to encourage players to stop and have a drink or some food.  For example, offer 25% off for BLUE team members, or 10% off if you show us a Pokémon  from our location, or offer something special for the current owner of your gym.
  • The gaming app eats up a lot of data, so you could offer your WIFI code to people IF they do something in return, e.g., purchase a food or beverage item at the bar, purchase something from the Market, etc….be creative!
  • The app also taxes a phone’s battery. Offer charging stations or provide power strips so that they can easily power up their devices while dining.
  • If you have an onsite restaurant or bar, consider setting up a LURE promo. These are a VERY cheap ways to get people into your bar or restaurant during a specific time.  More helpful information is here: http://www.inc.com/walter-chen/pok-mon-go-is-driving-insane-amounts-of-sales-at-small-local-businesses-here-s-h.html


If you try a promotion, keep these points in mind:

  • Educate all staff so they know what to say and what to honor when people ask for the promotion.  Nothing is more frustrating to guests who see a promo on Facebook or somewhere else and show the server that they belong to “Team Blue” or they’ve “captured Rattata in your lobby” and the server looks at them with a blank look.
  • Have fun! On the flip side, when your staff is educated and allowed to have fun with helping others find the Pokémon or rewarding guests who belong to X color team or have achieved a certain level status, it plays to HUGE wins with the gamer crowd and they’ll tell others.
  • Spell it out. Put a sign on the bar, at the front desk, by the elevators, on your digital signage, etc… to let guests know of your promotion (also post it on your social sites).
  • Post clear POS instructions. Post a sign with a screen shot in the back kitchen for the servers so they know what to be looking for when someone asks for the “Blue Team” special (or whatever promo you decide to run).  And also include server instructions for coding the discount in the POS system (example, code to XYZ).
  • Track your success. Like any other promotion, you want to see what revenue or employee engagement you’ve created. If it can’t be tracked via POS system, even a tally sheet can help. Or measure one promo against another so you can tweak future promotions.   This type of promotion, if done well, has the potential to be eligible for an HSMAI Adrian Award. Learn about what it takes to earn that recognition and plan accordingly:  http://www.adrianawards.com/competition/statement_comm.asp

Share your stories with us! We want to learn how this is impacting your hotel, support successes, and learn from any challenges that may arise. Send your stories to info@hsmai.org.

About HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council

HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council connects travel marketers in a way that leverages interactive customer engagement as a marketing medium while increasing the awareness of emerging issues, opportunities and trends. This is accomplished through a wide range of information sharing, networking and educational opportunities.

Special thanks for their contributions to this smarticle:

  • Aimee Cheek, CHDM, Director of eCommerce, OTO Development
  • Jay Hubbs, CHDM, Senior Vice President, eCommerce, Remington Hotels

Members include:

  • Shaun Aukland, Senior Account Executive, Google
  • Christine Beuchert Williams, Sr. Director of Marketing & Ecommerce Strategy, Marcus Hotels & Resorts
  • Felipe Carreras, CHDM, Director, eCommerce, Best Western International
  • Aimee Cheek, CHDM, Director of eCommerce, OTO Development
  • Robert Cole, Founder-CEO, RockCheetah
  • Chris Copp, Head of Digital, Americas, InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Mandee Davis, Assistant, School of Hospitality Management, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Isaac Gerstenzang, CHDM, Assistant Vice President, Corporate E-commerce, Destination Hotels
  • Lisa Giaimo, VP of Sales & Marketing, OTO Development LLC
  • Loren Gray, CHDM, Founder, Hospitality Digital Marketing
  • Jay Hubbs, CHDM, Senior Vice President, eCommerce, Remington Hotels
  • Michael Innocentin, Executive Director, Digital Marketing, FRHI Hotels & Resorts
  • Sarita Mallinger, Regional Director, Digital Marketing, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  • Amy Mierzwinski, CHDM, Principal , John Fareed Hospitality Consulting
  • Anna Paccone, CHDM, eCommerce Director, National Sales, Pillar Hotels & Resorts
  • Shawn Paley, CHDM, Director, Global eCommerce & Digital Services, Marriott International
  • Donna Quadri-Felitti, CHDM,PHD, Director and Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University
  • Mariana Safer, CHDM, Senior Vice President, Marketing, HeBS Digital
  • Kevin Scholl, CHDM, Director of Digital Marketing, Red Roof Inn
  • Paolo Torchio, CHDM, VP, Product Management, Sabre Hospitality Solutions
  • Dan Wacksman, CHDM, Senior Vice President, Global Distribution, Outrigger Resorts
  • Holly Zoba, CHDM, Senior Vice President Of Hospitality Sales, Signature Worldwide



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