Gotta Catch ‘em All?

26/08/2016 By Sally Mimnagh

The internet has been awash with news stories about Pokémon Go over the past few weeks, as people have been going crazy trying to catch ‘em all on their phones.  The game shows a map of your location and nearby Pokémon appear on the screen – you have to track them down in order to capture them using the famous Poke balls.

Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation, with businesses starting to cash in on the craze.  So how can visitor attractions make the most of this new phenomenon?

If you work for a major visitor attraction, a news article that caught my eye the other day seems to have done a lot of the legwork for you.  The article outlines the top 20 attractions in the UK for finding rare Pokémon – so if you’re lucky enough to be on the list, start shouting about the Gastly in your gardens and watch the visitors come flooding in.

Tourist attractions are already starting to get in on the action, with Hampshire Attractions publicising the number of Pokestops at each of its top attractions and Merlin Entertainments releasing a statement on best practice while playing Pokémon Go at their attractions.

However, there are a few other ways museums and attractions can learn from pubs and cafes to start cashing in on the action:

Social media

The #pokemongo hashtag has been trending at various points over the last few weeks.  If you’ve spotted people playing Pokémon Go at your site, use your social media profiles to ask visitors what they’ve caught, and retweet these using the hashtag.  Others will soon get involved if there are rare Pokémon to be found!

Lure events

The game works by using famous locations (Poké stops) to distribute in-game prizes and points, and it’s likely there is at least one of these stops near your attraction.  If you’re lucky enough to have one near a café on site, you can place a lure on it.  This ‘summons’ Pokémon to the stop for 30 minutes, where they can be caught by avid game players.  Cafés and pubs have been hosting ‘Lure nights’ where they will promote the event, encouraging visitors to come at a certain time, and then place lures throughout the evening (which can be bought in the game at 79p a pop).  A cheap way of getting more customers to stop for a coffee.

Be appropriate!

One important consideration is whether you want eager Pokémon players stampeding your attraction.  While for those with gardens or outside space, it is probably not such a problem, for galleries, libraries and museums, encouraging the Pokémon Go craze may put off some visitors.  While Pokémon Go has been taken up across the generations, it has more appeal among younger visitors, and so sites with an older demographic may do more harm than good by extolling the virtues of Pokémon hunting.  At the end of the day, you’ll know what will and won’t work for your site, and if there’s any doubt in your mind, err on the side of caution and just say Pokémon No.

Measure your success

It is important to be able to understand who is visiting your site and what their motivations are, to make sure your offer is matching up with their expectations.  At BVA BDRC, we conduct research for a number of sites looking at who is visiting, why they are visiting and what communications prompted a visit.  We run two major benchmarking surveys (ALVA and Visitor Verdict) which both allow you to measure motivations to visit, demographics of visitors and how well the site lives up to expectations, as well as comparing your own performance to that of other similar attractions.

Pokémon Go will no doubt run its course in the next few months, but in the meantime, it’s well worth being aware of when considering the needs and motivations of your visitors.

For further tips on making the most out of social media, or to discuss your favourite Pokémon, contact Sally Mimnagh.