With Pokemon Go launching in the UK this week, we take a look at what it is and how pubs can benefit from it

Without a doubt, nobody expected this to go as viral as it did. Within 2 days of launching in America and Australia, PokemonGo became more active than Twitter and got more engagement than Facebook.


Yesterday it launched in the UK - and I managed to get it a day early to have a look at how it works and how it can benefit pubs:

 

What on Earth is Augmented Reality?

Simply put, it's a hybrid of virtual reality and reality itself - characters are super-imposed on the real world using a device's camera. You move your character around by walking (the phone tracks where you are through GPS) and when a pokemon is nearby your phone will vibrate and switch to Augmented Reality. You then catch the creature by flicking the screen. Suitably, my first catch was in a pub with a 'Rattata' sitting on the bar before it moved to the barmaids hands:

 

Pokemon on barmaids hand

How can this help pubs?

The Pokemon appear at random around the world and the type of Pokemon depend on the nature of the area (water Pokemon near rivers and lakes for example) but for a small fee you can set a 'lure' in your bar for a period of time that attracts more than usual to your venue. A pizza restaurant in America did this for one weekend, and saw a 30% uplift in sales. Fears that Pokemon hunters would come just for the Pokemon then dissapear seem to be unfounded.

 

You can buy these lures and place them in your bar, or if you have one your garden. For pubs that cater to children, this could be a very smart move for the next few weeks with the children on holiday. The lures are proving popular already - these lures have contributed to Pokemon Go's revenue of over $2 million already.

 

But it's just a faze, like loom bands or Pokemon the card game?

It's early days - only released in the UK yesterday. It's likely to do well over the next month, with the summer weather supposedly here and the school holidays a week away. Even if it dies out after that, pubs that move first to set up 'lures' in the coming weeks are likely to see more customers coming their way than those that don't. I'll be creating one in my local next week, to see what difference it makes.

 

With any of these crazes that sweep the nation, they're not going to last forever. But when it's so quick to set up and cheap to buy (like Snapchat Geofilters) it's worth making the most of it. Are rural pubs focussing on food going to see an increase in demand because of this? Possibly not. But town center pubs with lots of footfall and any family friendly pub should consider it

 

More time spent in the app then Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat

This is why people like me are looking at this seriously as a way to increase the numbers of customers coming through the door. People are spending more time playing Pokemon Go then they are using Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter on their phones. Not by a small measure either - 50% longer playing the game than the next most popular - Facebook.

 

We've already seen pub crawls organised across America for the weekend - let me know on Twitter @edavieswork if you're planning to take advantage of the latest craze in the digital world