After Pokemon Go was released initially in the US, Australia and New Zealand, its popularity proved nothing short of phenomenal. Now available in more than 30 countries, with Japan being the latest launch, the app-based game – which allows users to hunt and catch Pokemon in real world locations using the camera on their mobile phones – has racked up more than 30 million users. In its first week of life, it attracted 15.3 million tweets, compared to 11.7 million Brexit tweets in the week following the referendum.
Now, it appears the game may be about to have an impact on the global travel industry. In a survey of 500 millennials, Hotels.com found that Pokemon Go has become a major influence on the travel plans of young globetrotters.
While 55 percent of those surveyed said they would pick their next holiday destination based on whether or not it was a promising spot for catching Pokemon, a huge 85 percent said they planned to play the game while away. While some of the global cities believed to be the best for catching Pokemon include those already popular with British travellers, such as New York, Tokyo and Sydney, some of those surveyed indicated they would be willing to widen their horizons in their hunt and would consider some less conventional travel destinations. 13 percent said they wouldn’t rule out the Australian Outback, nine percent could see themselves traversing the heights of Mount Everest, and eight percent would consider a trip to the North Pole.
Remarkably, six percent even said they might risk a visit to North Korea, an insular, authoritarian nation widely considered to have one of the worst human rights records in the world – and strictly regulated internet access.
While the Pokemon Go craze has sparked a national debate about the growing role of technology and augmented reality in our lives, causing particular concern among older generations, it has also been praised in many quarters for getting people out and about, with fitness tracking companies reporting massive spikes in activity amongst their users.
Now it looks likely that we will see a similar effect on people’s holiday activities, with Pokemon hunters skipping the pool and taking to roaming about their destinations instead. Those surveyed expected to walk around four kilometres per day in search of Pokemon, while they also believed they would spend an average of four hours on the hunt, compared with just three spent sunbathing. Almost half of holidaymakers expected to spend more time exploring a city than they otherwise would have, with 35 percent believing they would learn more as a result.
London has also been on the receiving end of an increase in explorers; the Museum of London, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Air Force Museum are some of the cultural hot spots that have now become Pokemon Hot Spots. Staff at the V&A – which is home to 11 Pokestops – have been studying the way their building and collections feature in the game, with Richard Palmer of the museum’s digital media team writing that Pokemon Go had ‘encouraged us to take a look at the underlying data used in the game and how this relates to our collections.
We’ve also been interested to see how the mapping and geolocation aspects of the game work as a smartphone app making use of GPS, as we have an interest in this technology whilst looking at potential wayfinding options within the V&A buildings’. The museum staff also say they are interested to see how Pokemon Go may increase visits to the museum.
The enormous popularity of Pokemon Go has not just impacted the lives of its users – savvy businesses have been rushing to make good on moneymaking opportunities, taking advantage of the game’s ability to draw customers to a location. With the research by Hotel.com also indicating Britain’s young people may factor in Pokemon Go to their choice of hotel, one thing’s for sure – we can all expect to be on the receiving end of some very millennial marketing.