Help your guests ‘catch ’em all’ in latest game craze
Help your guests ‘catch ’em all’ in latest game craze
15 JULY 2016 7:36 AM

“Pokémon Go,” the latest smartphone game craze, could actually offer hoteliers an opportunity to engage their guests and have fun while doing it.

I wonder if your workplace is anything like mine has been the past week. Some of my coworkers keep checking their phones, not for text messages, sports scores or Snapchatting, but to find imaginary monsters that just pop up from time to time.

You all know what I’m talking about. “Pokémon Go” is the closest millennials have come to actually being a Pokémon master since they first dreamed of it as elementary and middle school students. But it’s not just millennials who are into it; this is a game that seems to appeal to almost anyone with a smartphone.

And they play it everywhere. It encourages people to get up and move, to get out of their houses and actually explore their neighborhoods, their parks and their cities to find and capture new Pokémon characters. When you think about it, it’s actually a great way for people to get out and meet new people and learn about what’s nearby. However, some do take it a little too far blindly following their phones.

With everyone out and about trying to catch ’em all, that has pushed businesses and community organizations to take advantage of this phenomenon to bring them inside. Some simply post a sign that Pokémon found inside their stores or restaurants are for paying customers only. It’s effective, but it’s missing style and a sense of hospitality. Others find ways to welcome the Pokémon-searching public in and explore, sometimes even playing the game themselves and putting out in-game lures to attract more Pokémon and, therefore, more potential customers.

Herein lies the opportunity for hoteliers, especially those whose properties have the grounds for walking and are popular with families. But you need to act quickly while the hype around this game lasts. Put out some sort of sign or symbols to let guests know that searching for Pokémon is welcome, within certain parameters, of course (you don’t want guests wandering into secure or dangerous areas). If you have enough staff on duty with the right personalities, you could organize little safaris around your property to entertain your younger guests.

If you have a restaurant, bar or even some form of retail outlet on your property that’s open to the nearby community, consider letting guests and the public come in and wander through without requiring them to buy anything. It could add a quick boost to your sales. I’m not saying let people loiter for hours and take seats and space away from paying customers, but if you create a welcoming atmosphere for people who weren’t planning on buying something, you might end up changing their minds.

Even if all this doesn’t translate to one extra penny for you, it’s still worth considering. It opens you up, shows off a friendlier and engaging side of your staff beyond checking in guests and cleaning their rooms. It might even be something fun for your employees to shake things up a bit and try something different with guests.

As I said before, you’ll need to act quickly. While the overall Pokémon franchise has lasted for decades now, who knows how long this widespread interest in this particular game will last? It could go on for weeks and months, but I doubt this game will have staying power with the masses at large too far beyond that. That’s not a knock against the game itself. Based on how some of my coworkers describe it, as well as all the news articles going on and on about this game, it sounds like a lot of fun, but there’s always something new and better around the corner to grab everyone’s attention. So by all means, get some practice in now to help prepare for what could come next.

What are your thoughts on this? Has the whole world gone mad? Are your front desk associates too interested in trying to catch some rare Pokémon instead of noticing that guest who’s been standing in line for five minutes waiting to check in? Have you tried these suggestions, or something like it, at your properties? Let me know. You can reach me at and on Twitter @HNN_Bryan.

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