Four ways Pokemon Go can boost restaurant sales

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Four ways Pokemon Go can boost restaurant sales

Related tags: New york, Michelin guide, Covent garden

Pokemon Go has taken the UK by storm, and savvy bars and restaurants are already using the game to boost sales.

With over 21m daily users in the US alone, the app has surpassed Candy Crush as the biggest mobile game ever.

So how can restaurants use the cartoon monsters to their advantage?

1.       Lure in customers

The app sets buildings such as pubs and restaurants as Pokestops and Gyms, where players can battle, collect items and train their monsters.

Businesses can use the game to buy a lure module and attach it to a nearby Pokestop. These are designed to attract Pokemon to the area, and have proven to have a similar effect on diners.  

Maxwell’s Bar & Grill in Covent Garden has reported a 26 per cent rise in sales in its first week as a Pokestop.

The restaurant has made it the sole responsibility of one employee to drop lures around the local area, spending up to £100 a day on in-app purchases.

“Over the weekend we’ve had queues of people trying to get into the restaurant, standing outside and running in asking us where they can find a Snorlax," said Christian Southcott, general manager of Maxwell’s. "I had to call extra staff in to cover the surge of customers.”

Costa has seen a 30 per cent rise in footfall across its Pokemon spotting stores and is looking at introducing a Pokéstop selector on its online Store Locator.

"We’re looking forward to seeing more Pokémon finders and characters come through our doors over the summer,"  said Caroline Harris, UK marketing director at Costa.

Pokestops and Gyms on the in-game map

Across the pond L’inizio Pizza Bar in New York made headlines when its sales rose 75 per cent in one weekend after its manager Sean Benedetti spent $10 on a lure.

2.       Hold events

#Pokemon was trending solidly on Twitter in the week of the app’s release, and restaurants are using social media to let users know that monsters may be hiding in-house.

A Pokemon Freakshake at Maxwell's

MEATmission in Hoxton tweeted on Saturday that it would be dropping a lure on the nearby Pokestop and invited users to come in and enjoy a burger.

Maxwell’s is also set to host a ‘Pokémon Go Lure Party’ with 400 customers already confirmed to attend. 

It has launched special monster-themed 'Freakshakes', the Squirtlegum and the Bulbaero, to celebrate.

Anthony Wright, Maxwell’s marketing manager, said: “It’s incredible how everyone has reacted to the game. I was walking through Covent Garden last week and in five minutes had seen at least a dozen people running around trying to capture Pokémon.

“Working in hospitality you have to react quickly to new trends and fads and I had a feeling this could be a winner for us.”

3.       Engage with customers

Wright suggested that businesses use the app as a gateway to build relationships with diners by asking them to share the types of Pokemon they are catching nearby.

“This information, particularly the ‘rarity’ of Pokémon captured on-site, can easily be deployed as an advertising tool,” he said.

“Restaurants can also brand themselves as a hotspot or potential meeting place for users.”

After footage emerged of a swarm of players flocking to New York’s Central Park​ after a rare Pokemon was seen in the area, restaurant groups are trying to recreate the effect.

Costa is encouraging players to share their Pokémon sightings on the brand's Facebook page.

TGI Friday’s is also asking users to share photos of monsters found in their restaurants in order to win a prize.


4.       Sponsored opportunities

While the location of Pokestops is currently random, the New York Times has reported​ that the game’s developer Niantic is planning to introduce sponsored locations.

This means restaurants, coffee shops and retailers could soon pay a fee to help monetise the game and draw in potential customers.

McDonald’s is rumoured to become the first to roll out the scheme, with references to the fast food chain already appearing in the game’s code.

Though the restaurant declined to comment on the claims, Gizmodo has reported​ that the partnership could see every McDonald’s in the country turned in to a Pokestop or Gym.

But despite the hype, the app is not proving popular with all types of restaurants.

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