3 Lessons for Event Professionals From Pokemon Go

First things first: If you’re confused by Pokemon Go and what it is and how on earth a game with imaginary creatures is taking over the world, you’re not alone. This app has permeated everyone’s lives in the last few weeks. In fact, Recode estimates 9.5 million people are playing it every day. You’re probably seeing people wandering around Wal-Marts and parks, or, in some outrageous cases, crashing into police cars because they were playing while driving. Whether you are caught up in the obsession or not, don’t overlook what the app can teach event planners. Here are three tips that stand out. 1. Augmented reality is where it’s at. One of the things people love about Pokemon Go is how high-tech it feels. Augmented reality has been around for years, but up until this point the general public hadn’t embraced it. Impress your attendees with technology at your next event. Platforms like Zappar, Blippar and Layar bring event materials like posters, contests and conference guides to life through handheld devices. 2. Get people on their feet. In order to catch ’em all (the Pokemon, that is), people have to walk all over God’s green earth to find them. In addition, to “hatch” a Pokemon egg, players have to walk between 1 and 5 miles—the phone knows if you’re cheating. There have been many jokes that Pokemon Go is secretly a ploy by first lady Michelle Obama to get people exercising as part of her Let’s Move! campaign. But the fact that people are willing to engage in the physical activity tells planners that with the right incentive, attendees will do the same. Motivate attendees to participate in a charity 5k walk/run by giving away prizes, or a meet and greet with a keynote for those who finish the race. 3. Battery life is everything. The biggest complaints from users about Pokemon Go are about how much cellular data it eats up, and how quickly it drains the battery of the phone. If you’re going to embrace augmented reality and dedicated event apps, you should accept that attendees will undoubtedly be on their devices nonstop throughout your event. That means you also need to embrace the realities of having charging stations. It’s not a good look when attendees have to sit on the floor of the convention center lobby across from the bathroom and next to an outlet because it was the only place they could find to charge their phone. Embrace the tech, but embrace the perils that come with it. Find solutions so attendees know you’re catering to their needs.

What Is Pokemon Go?

Here's the 411: Pokemon Go is a smartphone app that brings to life the popular Gameboy game from the late 1990s. Users create a Pokemon trainer and a human character, and then as they walk around in their day-to-day, the app alerts them to “nearby” Pokemon they can catch. The creatures are the same ones from the nostalgic game, but updated to look as though they are situated in real world. In other words, the interface of the phone accesses the person’s camera and then overlays the Pokemon on the live image of wherever the Pokemon is found—someone’s desk in your office, aisle 21 in the grocery store, etc. The more Pokemon you catch, the higher your level, and the higher the level, the more Pokemon you can see and find. Can you say addictive?