Here at Better Chains, we regularly discuss how the future success of restaurants is often determined by the technology they choose to run their business. We also recognize that millennials have a profound effect on the technology choices that those restaurant operators make. That’s why we want to take a step back today to talk about the powerful technology that resides in the hands of your customers right now, and how you can harness it to expand your marketing reach, improve brand loyalty, and get to know your customers better.
Millennials and technology. Those two words go together about as well as peanut butter and jelly. So when Pokémon GO was released this month… well, let’s just say it wasn’t a surprise to see how many of them flocked to the augmented reality game. What did turn out to be a bit of a surprise though was the nature of the game play.
When you think about millennials playing with their phones, you usually imagine them taking pictures of their meal, not interacting with their dining companions, and completely hooked into whatever they’re reading, playing, or tweeting. However, Pokémon GO doesn’t work that way. In order to navigate around the game, players have to move around in the real world. So as one’s GPS coordinates change, so does the field of play. That’s why you can’t read the news this week without hearing about someone getting hurt while playing the game.
We’re not going to get into all the nitty-gritty of Pokémon GO. There is a lot to know what with the PokéStops, Gyms, Teams, Lures, and all the other terminology involved in the game play. What we want to focus on is how restaurants can make this new game—and increased activity of Pokémon GO players— work to their benefit.
Tips to Lure in Pokémon Players
We spend a lot of time focused on how technology can help restaurants improve operations management—and ultimately the bottom line. With a technology-savvy generation like millennials taking over your customer base, employee ranks, and management teams, it’s important to provide solutions that make sense to them and that serve to benefit the business overall.
While mobile games might not be our “thing”, we do understand the power of gamification for businesses. It turns seemingly normal processes into something a little more interactive, something a little more fun, and it’s a great way to lure in a younger audience attracted to that sort of thing. That’s why Pokémon is a really cool new (technology) outlet for restaurants to profit from.
Here are 5 tips on how restaurants should be taking advantage of this fad:
#1: Purchase Lures
You don’t need to have a full understanding of the game to realize the business potential of a “Lure”. Basically, this is what you need to know:
- A Lure has the power to attract Pokémon (and players chasing them) to a specific PokéStop location.
- Restaurants located at or near a PokéStop can purchase Lures for a reasonable price.
- In exchange, they receive 30 minutes of increased foot traffic (and hopefully sales) as players are drawn into their area to track down Pokémon.
#2: Encourage Customers to Drop Lures
Remember that with millennials, they expect more rewards for being a loyal customer. Let your customers know that if they drop a lure at your establishment that you can offer them a real-life reward in exchange for it: a free drink, discounted appetizer, loyalty points, whatever. In return, you’ll see an increase in current customer loyalty and new customer faces.
#3: Encourage Your Employees to Share
Realistically, you won’t want to encourage your staff to play Pokémon GO while they’re working since it can interrupt the guest experience and potentially lead to more mistakes and injuries. However, operations management cannot underestimate the power of the employee referral. If you know that your restaurant is a PokéStop or you’ve set up Lures at a nearby one, let your employees know. Provide them with incentives to share with friends, family, and online followers, and consequently build your reach as well as team loyalty.
Gotta eat ’em all!! #PokemonGO pic.twitter.com/Z9xRO1htRV
— FreddysSteakburgers (@FreddysUSA) July 11, 2016
#4: Create Pokémon-Related Specials or Deals
Trendjacking is a really common marketing tactic businesses use when a trending topic can be spun for their own purposes. Remember #TheDress?
Pokémon GO is now that hot topic everyone wants to get in on—and it’s something that’s proving to be of real value to restaurants looking to increase local business. Come up with a Pokémon-looking drink, update this evening’s specials, or create an exclusive deal for Pokémon GO trainers who have reached certain levels. If you can associate your restaurant with the trend, people will be more likely to remember you for it.
#5: Get Social
If you’ve got a presence established on social already, then that’s one of the best places to take your Pokémon GO support.
Advertise special deals
Let people know what time your Lures are active
Encourage customers and employees who have Poké pictures from inside your restaurant to share (and tag you)
It’s all about making sure you get your restaurant brand’s voice into the conversation. Your customers (new and old) will love it!
@Friendlys I would like to report a rodent infestation at a local Friendly’s establishment #PokemonGo pic.twitter.com/MpxpThqDNY
— Jay Morales (@CriminalScrub) July 7, 2016
Play responsibly, my friends.