Six Ways Your DMO Should be Utilizing Pokémon GO for Community Engagement

Enjoyed an outdoor activity in your community recently? You’ve likely noticed something quite unique – throughout neighborhoods, along the side of roads, and especially at parks, stores, and other local attractions, children and adults alike have been out in droves playing the latest mobile phone app craze. Pokémon GO is taking the typically recluse gaming population by storm, all-the-while helping players rediscover parts of their own cities.

At this point, it’s hard to tell whether Pokémon GO is a trend that will fade, or spur us along a track of augmented reality-type mobile gaming. Yet regardless of staying power, currently, Pokémon GO is huge. It has more daily engagement from users than Twitter and Facebook, and this engagement isn’t slowing down.

First – How does it work?
Pokémon Go is a smartphone game in which players, known as trainers, walk around the real world to catch cartoon creatures called Pokémon. Pokémon GO assigns these creatures to physical GPS locations on a real world map, which is why the game is sometimes referred to as Augmented Reality. To “Catch ‘em All,” players must open the app on their phone and wander around popular attractions and dense areas, in the hopes of tracking down an undiscovered critter.

Since quite a bit of randomization comes into account, you can’t just go to one location, grab what you need, and leave. A Pokémon at a local restaurant on Monday likely won’t be there on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or even later that day. This means that in addition to forcing people outside, Pokémon GO also requires people to revisit locations they’ve already stopped at.

Here are some ways your DMO can take advantage of this phenomenon to drive engagement in your community:

  1. Download the App!
    Try it out yourself! Why not see what all the hype is about? The app is free to download on both the Apple and Android Stores, and you’ll need to create an account to purchase Lure Modules (we’ll touch on that later). Familiarizing yourself with how the game works and why it’s so successful is a key component of utilizing it properly in your marketing efforts.

  2. Publish a List of your City’s Local Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms
    Pokéstops are fixed GPS locations that give players in-game items simply by standing next to them. Pokémon Gyms are also fixed GPS locations that players go to and battle each other to claim that spot for their team.
    These locations do not change, so publish a list of attractions in your city hosting Pokéstops and Gyms on a landing page or Blog on your website to potentially bolster traffic, like Hannibal, Missouri did here. Print out some handouts that players can pick up from your visitor center. Take this a step further by providing a list of confirmed Pokémon in your city, since different regions have differing critters available to players.

  3. Convince Players to Bring in a Rare Pokémon to Your Visitor Center for Prizes
    Drive more attention to your visitor center by offering prizes to gamers for bringing in new and unique Pokémon discoveries. This is a great way to attract players to come in, as well as keeping an up-to-date list on the different Pokémon creatures in your community. Not to mention, everyone loves free swag!

  4. Create a Pokémon GO Tour
    Plan an event and spread the word through Facebook, where you’ll guide players through your city to local attractions and play the game as a group. Lead them to historic landmarks, known Pokéstops, and dense areas where activity is likely.

  5. Boost a Pokéstop Location to Attract Players
    There’s a feature in the game that allows players to use an item to boost a Pokéstop location for a period of 30 minutes. The Lure Module can be bought in the in-game store for $1.19 per hour, and attracts nearby Pokémon to your spot. Visually, players can see your location is boosted on the map, and will cluster around the point to catch more Pokémon and gain more experience.

  6. Share Pokémon GO-themed social content
    Advertise local Pokéstops, announce a boost location, or share screenshots of Pokémon you find in your community (Be sure to add the hashtag #PokémonGO!). This is a great way to drive engagement and encourage players to explore attractions in your area.