APEX Insight: As a seemingly never-ending stream of Pokémon GO devotees continues to flow out of the woodwork, airlines and airports are scrambling to tap into the international hype. The augmented reality game is percolating throughout the aviation industry and providing new opportunities for customer engagement.
Bulbasaur, Charizard and Pikachu no longer carry clout only among 90s pre-teen gamers. In less than two weeks, Pokémon GO has accumulated over 20 million users and become one of the most viral smartphone applications of all time, already surpassing Tinder in terms of installs and Twitter in daily active users. Launched July 6 on Apple iOS and Google Android, the augmented reality (AR) game uses a smartphone’s built-in GPS and camera to make creatures appear as though they’re embedded in the physical environment being navigated by players.
By devising in-game incentives for visiting real-word locations, Pokémon GO, which was created by Niantic, Inc. and The Pokémon Company, has the potential to generate increased foot traffic for reasons imperceptible to the naked eye. Some retailers have hit the proverbial jackpot and been designated “Pokestops” – a hub where players (Pokémon Trainers) can collect valuable items – while others are tethering themselves to Pokémania in hopes of fostering new opportunities for interaction with the consumer.
“It quickly became apparent that there was a significant amount of Pokémon-meandering in our restaurants and gate lounges.” — Michael Marchese, OTG
To increase foot traffic in their vicinity, retailers can purchase “lures” – items that are added to Pokéstops to attract the pixelated creatures and, thus, the swarms of players who would do almost anything to capture them – with in-game currency ($1 for half an hour). With Pokéstops in high volume in and around airports, airlines, retailers and food and beverage providers are prime candidates for lure purchasing. Airport restaurateur and retailer OTG, currently operating in 10 airports across North America, has recently taken advantage of the feature: “It quickly became apparent that there was a significant amount of Pokémon-meandering in our restaurants and gate lounges – we found that there had been more than 30 Pokéstops and Gyms scattered throughout … Recognizing the unique nature of our situation in the airport space and wanting to get in on the fun, we decided to help our guests locate and capture a few pre-flight by purchasing and installing ‘Lures’ in our spaces,” Michael Marchese, manager of Marketing and Communications, OTG, told The Moodie Davitt Report.
“We decided to help our guests locate and capture a few [Pokémons] pre-flight by purchasing and installing ‘Lures’ in our spaces.” — Michael Marchese, OTG
Lures may be one of the most obvious approaches to honing the game’s newfound popularity, but there is no shortage of ways to get in on the action. Virgin Australia will be providing free phone charging for Pokémon GO Players at all of its 52 stores and kiosks nationwide. Meanwhile, travelers in the mood for a Pokémon-themed beverage can enjoy Pikachu Colada Sangria at select locations in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Pokémon GO developer Niantic Inc.’s CEO, John Hanke, hinted that retailers will soon be able enjoy another perk: in-game advertising. This would allow companies to sponsor certain locations – parks, landmarks and buildings – as a form of advertisement, which would be charged according to the number of visits received as a result of the game, providing airlines with yet another channel to profit from.
Time will tell how airlines and airports continue to exercise Pokémon GO’s potential. Until then, read on to find out how airlines and airports are engaging with the AR game to cultivate relationships among a consumer base that is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from the Pokémon-seeking public.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) July 13, 2016
Good job keeping our flight Drowzee free, Hunter! Let's hope you get to catch a rare Pokemon in the air! Enjoy the flight! ^WH
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) July 10, 2016
— Andi Plantenberg (@andisf) July 15, 2016
— Qantas (@Qantas) July 13, 2016
— Virgin Australia (@VirginAustralia) July 13, 2016
— Helsinki Airport (@HelsinkiAirport) July 14, 2016
Our airside safety team is responding to sightings of rogue #Pokemon at Sydney Airport.
Gotta catch 'em all! pic.twitter.com/S0iBY031Zq
— Sydney Airport (@SydneyAirport) July 11, 2016
— MSP Airport (@mspairport) July 12, 2016
— Denver Int'l Airport (@DENAirport) July 12, 2016
— Ottawa Airport (@FlyYOW) July 15, 2016