How Marriott Is Leveraging Pokémon Go for Guest Engagement

Jul 18, 2016 · 4 min read

Pokémon Go is the term-du-jour in digital marketing (and your social feed), and when it comes to hysteria, timing is everything.

The game has been a major winfall for brick-and-mortar businesses since its July 6 launch, generating spikes in foot traffic to local retailers (especially those with a PokéStop or Gym) and a surge in photos shared on social from these locations.

Marriott International, one of the largest hotel groups in the world, has seen a spike in social posts shared from their 4,000+ properties since July 6 — many featuring Pikachus, Bulbasaurs and Charmanders. Using M Live, Marriott’s real-time command center that cultivates on-location social activity via geo-fencing, the brand has surfaced hundreds of photos shared by guests on Instagram and Twitter — featuring Pokémon in their rooms, by the pool, and at the gym.

Matthew Glick, Senior Director of Global Creative + Content Marketing at Marriott International, points out that “with the power of M Live and our partnership with HYP3R, we’re truly able to surface relevant guest conversations across our brands in real-time”. The hotel giant has been consistently introducing new mobile-first initiatives to enhance guests’ experiences at its resorts and to engage with guests via social media — and Pokémon Go is the latest topic of conversation.

Here are five ways that Marriott has leveraged Pokémon hysteria to engage with guests (and you can, too):

1. Recognize when a craze reaches critical mass. Since its release on July 6, Pokémon Go has claimed the title of the most downloaded mobile game of all time. While many brands are left scrambling to strategize, Marriott (whose brand portfolio includes Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Renaissance and many more) jumped into the social media conversation on Twitter immediately.

Smart businesses are featuring Pokémon caught on-property on social to entice real-world visitors.

2. Engage with guests about the topics they’re interested in. Whether it’s Pokémon, the weather, or a cocktail by the pool, Marriott’s social engagements allow the guest to set the tone, and join the conversation in context — on the guest’s terms. According to Glick, “M Live is now engaging in a two-way conversation with our guests around cultural moments that are relevant to what our guests are talking about and actually interested in.”

Marriott brand Gaylord Hotels engages with a guest on Instagram, in personal and Poké-centric fashion.

3. Go beyond publishing. Harnessing trending hashtags is a low-hanging fruit when a trend catches fire, but it only gets you so far. Going beyond publishing on your social accounts and into personalized, 1:1 engagement with guests on-location gives them those warm-and-fuzzy feelings that can’t be generated from a simple mass blast tweet.

Marriott’s SpringHill Suites’ social game is on point when a Psyduck takes a dip in Virginia Beach.

4. Make it cute. Don’t be afraid to get punny, and even poke fun at yourself. Brands that do this successfully win on social. These are Japanese fictional creatures, after all.

SpringHill Suites in Austin gets cute when a guest finds an Eevee in the lobby.

5. Let your guests do your marketing for you. Sometimes all you have to do is sit back, relax, and let your guests become your photographers/marketers/evangelists, creating authentic content you can feature in your official social channels.

A Venonat becomes a would-be tour guide for the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort in California.

According to Glick, Marriott’s real-time command center M Live has “turned the tables from creating general content distributed to thousands of guests — to listening and leveraging a single moment that’s relevant and shareable between thousands of guests.” In today’s context, that moment is Pokémon Go.

This mobile game is not the first (and won’t be the last) location-based, AR-centric craze that sweeps your social feed. And the brands that recognize and leverage the hysteria to their business advantage, à la Marriott, will be the real winners of the game.


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