Captive passengers: OTG serves up Pokémon to Go at airport restaurants

PokémonGo facts
• As players must walk around to hunt Pokémon, an average man playing for seven days would burn 1,795 calories, a woman 1,503. According to the BBC that’s the equivalent of six to seven chocolate doughnuts.
• PokémonGo generated 15.3 million tweets worldwide in its first week. That compares with 11.7 million for Brexit in the week of the UK referendum [Source: BBC].
• On Monday, PokémonGo drew almost 21 million daily active users in the USA
• As of 8 July, the app was being used for an average of 43 minutes, 23 seconds a day, higher than Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Messenger. [Source:]

USA. Airport restaurateur-to-retailer OTG has embraced the PokémonGo phenomenon that has taken the games world by storm in recent weeks, by introducing elements into its US airports’ restaurant and gate lounge offer.

Pokémon Go is a free, location-based augmented reality mobile game for iOS and Android devices released earlier this month in the US and selected other markets. It has enjoyed startling success, smashing previous smart device app records, including the blockbuster Candy Crush Saga.

PokémonGo is already considered to be the most popular game in the history of smartphones with social and digital media specialist SimilarWeb saying that it now has more daily users on Android phones in the US than Twitter.

The GPS-linked game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual ‘Pokémon’ creatures, who appear on device screens in real locations.

OTG says that the game’s success led the company into studying fun ways to participate in its guests’ Pokémon tracking.

“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,” OTG Manager, Experience Michael Marchese told The Moodie Davitt Report.

OTG Doduo at Saison, EWR
Two heads are better than one: OTG captures Doduo at Saison, Newark Liberty Airport

“Recognising 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 Pokémon [Pokémen surely? Wrong – the plural of every Pokémon species name is the same as the singular – Ed] by purchasing and installing ‘Lures’ in our spaces. The placing of Lures throughout the terminal helped guests more easily track and capture any of the airport-based creatures.”

OTG SVP of Digital Manu Gambhir added: “We aim to create unique experiences in our airport spaces, and this just seemed like a really fun way to surprise and delight our guests. Everyone involved had a lot of fun. The creation of the Lures, and promotion of their locations across our social was an obvious way to help our guests catch ‘em all!”

Publisher’s note: If my analysis of this story falls short of my usual rigorous standards it is because I have absolutely no idea how PokémonGo works, or why I would possibly want to spend time playing it – further confirmation no doubt of my relentless advance into the autumn years of life and increasing isolation from a world where virtual has become reality. But surely 21 million Americans (that’s five times the population of my native New Zealand) can’t be wrong… right? Mmm, then how do you explain Donald Trump?

Fortunately, I have four children, all of whom are spending worrying amounts of time pursuing Pokémen… sorry Pokémon.

OTG Eevee at Crust, LGA
Captive passenger: Eevee spotted at  OTG-run Crust at La Guardia Airport

Over a weekend BBQ (I cooked, they looked at their mobile devices), I asked them if the game could be applied to our industry in any way.

Could I, for example, place a few hundred travel retail Pokémon around Mumbai to attract more delegates to The Trinity Forum in September? Or would speakers be put off their presentations by the sight of mobile device-wielding delegates trying to capture Pokémon to the side of the podium?

Could we create two new  Pokémon characters, say Dermoturtle and Moodiesan, and win ourselves millions of new readers?

Could TFWA (its acronym redefined as Tangela, Flareon, Wigglytuff, Articumo) embrace the concept in Cannes? Could the association find a clever way to ‘Lure’ (see, I have the parlance mastered already) buyers onto stands? (Imagine the crush if, say, Zapdos, Squirtle, Blastoise or Dratini – I’m not making this up, I promise – were sited on the Chanel stand. That would certainly pose a challenge to the French house’s ‘Strictly by appointment only’ policy).

Could we create ‘Pokéstops’ within airport shops around the world, offering ‘hatch one get one free’ Pokémon eggs, linked of course to generous shopping discounts? After all, I learned that the rarest Pokémon hatch from eggs after a 10km (6 mile) stroll – about the length of the average walk to gate in many terminals.

My offspring looked at me (briefly, before looking down again at their devices), a certain blend of sadness and pity in their eyes, and shook their heads. “No you couldn’t do that,” said the youngest dismissively. Well, OTG just did. So there.

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