Catching Pokémon Go Fever: How to Infect Your Event

Looking back at the summer of 2016, Pokémon Go jumps out as the craze of the season. From getting sedentary kids up off the couch and walking, to providing exercise for shelter dogs, Pokémon Go has become a social phenomenon. While the app may seem revolutionary, it is really just a new type of check-in tool in the same vein as Four Square and geocaching.[Tweet "Catching Pokémon Go fever: how to infect your event. #GovEventsBlog"]

With this in mind, we took a look at how the excitement people experience over hatching an egg or catching Pikachu can be applied to events.

  1. Blending of real and virtual - Seeing cartoon monsters within your actual environment is a huge draw of the app. This is augmented reality, a close relative of virtual reality. In augmented reality, digital components are added to the real environment; this contrasts with virtual reality where the environment is completely digital but mimics a real world space. While virtual reality has become a frequent tool in consumer events, it is unlikely to catch on quickly in the government world due to expense and complexity. Augmented reality, however, is easier to insert into government events with easy to use apps available.[Tweet "Augmented reality is easier to insert into government events. #GovEventsBlog"]  Consider adding Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or geolocation technologies that serve up information to people when they are in a particular area of your venue. You can also think of augmented reality as an extension of hybrid events. You could pull virtual attendees into your event via Skype or streaming video.
  2. Exercise - There is an overall trend in events to serve healthier food options and to build in time for more breaks for exercise and fresh air. The success Pokémon Go has had with people at all levels of fitness shows that people will get active if they have a goal to motivate them. To bring this to your event, think about planning a pedometer competition that encourages people to walk the show floor.
  3. Fun - Government event organizers should not be scared of the F-word: Fun! The wide-ranging appeal of Pokémon Go shows that gamification works no matter the age or demographic. Look for ways to build competitions into your events to get people mingling and collaborating with one another such as scavenger hunts or trivia contests.[Tweet "Build competitions into your events to get people mingling. #GovEventsBlog"]
  4. Meet people on their phones - love it or hate it, we live on our phones. While Nintendo (owners of Pokémon Go) resisted the urge to go mobile - wanting to cling to their legacy of hardware-based games - they found that "giving in" to the mobile trend pays huge rewards. While you want people to focus on what is happening at your event, you may as well embrace the fact that they will use their phones. Make it work to your benefit by promoting your event on social media or using apps to push information to attendees throughout the event.
  5. It does not have to be perfect - Pokémon Go has had plenty of glitches, from servers crashing to multiple requests for logins, but generally users have excused these because of the overall fun experience they're having. Don't feel like the technology you roll out has to be perfect. Let attendees know you are trying something new and there may be glitches, but the best way to improve the tech is to start using it (you can equate this to the agile software development philosophy). Give new technologies a try. Even if they fail, it likely won't have a negative impact on overall event satisfaction or plans to return for future events.

We'd love to hear from you. What takeaways have you learned while playing or watching people play Pokémon Go? How can you apply those to your everyday life and work?

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