4 Lessons from Pokémon Go To Make Your Conferences More Engaging

In 1996, children all over the world just wanted to catch ’em all. As a tot of this time, I can remember playgrounds dotted with hubs of children, frantically trying to get the best trade for a shiny Ninetails. Everybody wanted to get their hands on a rare Charizard and rumours circulated that Ben in sixth grade had a cousin who had one.

Having launched in July 2016, Pokémon fans now have the chance to become true PokéMasters, with the release of Pokémon Go. Unless you have been cut-off from the world for the past three months, you will be aware of the latest smartphone gaming craze. It is smashing Candy Crushs’s peak audience of 20 million users and, according to research firm SensorTower, is generating $1.6 million in daily revenue.

There are a number of reasons as to why Pokémon Go is such a phenomenon, and a lot can be garnered and applied to the events industry. Nintendo have been very clever by creating an entire engaging experience for Pokémon Go gamers, and this is what conference attendees desire.

Smartphones Are Key

Mobile phones are no longer just for making calls, or sending text messages. The evolution of the device has been remarkable and now people are constantly glued to them. We live in a society where we are dependent on smartphones to wake us up, send emails, and even monitor our blood pressure. Nintendo recognised the importance of releasing software for mobile platforms, which is echoed in the 100 million downloads the game has received thus far.

Event tech can often be a little lack lustre, with glitches and power-outs laughed off as the norm. Software developers have noticed this trend, and there are more apps and gadgets appearing throughout 2016. There are management tools and in-event tools that run straight through the attendee’s mobile phone. At this year’s London Marathon, spectators were able to track runners through a digital spectator guide on their smartphones.


Many smartphone games lure you in for a substantial amount of levels, and then try and get you to empty your pockets. Lots of us give in, addicted to the game. One of the aspects of Pokémon Go that make it so appealing is it is free. You can play until your heart’s content without shelling out a penny. Understandably, there are in-game options if you want to excel a little quicker, but these are not necessary or compulsory. There have been bugs with Pokémon Go but, because it is free, users have been much more forgiving.

Giving away goodie-bags or promotional gifts at conferences can create positive brand association – people are more likely to try your services and invest in other products in the future. Being able to get your hands on something tangible with no contract or obligation creates a buzz. Furthermore, people like free things.

For example, in July 2011, Compare the Market’s meerkat advertising campaign, saw a cuddly toy (representing one of the meerkat characters) being given away with each policy sold via their website. These have proved so incredibly popular, that the arm of the campaign involving the free toys has double the company owner’s personal fortune.

Harnessing Augmented Reality

It is easy to become confused between virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual reality creates a false reality, whereas virtual reality adds digital elements to the real physical world through your screen. In Pokémon Go, users interact with real places and objects. But, via the screen, Pokémon creatures can be seen casually roaming public spaces such as parks, shopping centres, and beaches.

Car brands are using augmented reality to add different experiences to launch events and stores. Audi City, Audi’s flagship store in London Piccadilly, has touchscreen tables and multi-display walls. The space is entirely interactive and customers can create bespoke Audi models and view a life-size version of their design, virtually, in the store.

Augmented reality is slowly being seen at more and more conferences and events, particularly when wanting to display items that are large or too costly to ship. Many brands also use AR to show potential customers different colours or specifications of a product, without the physical item being there in reality.


There is a morning ritual in Japan called ‘Rajio taiso’. This tradition is followed by many companies, where colleagues exercise together each morning before work, with many scheduling in fifteen-minute exercise breaks into their daily schedules to improve mood, energy, and health. Nintendo is a Japanese company and is not surprising that their original Nintendo console and Wii launched in 2006, both involve being active on your feet.

Pokémon Go has evolved this Japanese tradition and console initiative, resulting in even the most lethargic individuals to pound the pavements in search of Pokémon. Activity of any kind can help boost morale and increase liveliness, perfect to mix into events.

Get guests moving at your next conference by indulging in active icebreaker or team building exercises. Even something as simple as getting attendees to rotate to different rooms regularly can be enough to get energized. More complex sessions can include scavenger hunts or even dedicated fitness experiences throughout the day, perhaps a lunchtime 5K run or learn to Tango in the evening!


Just like Pokémon Go, events should be captivating and fun! Attendee engagement is paramount, and yoking the best bits of the game that has the world by storm is a great way for event planners to broaden horizons or try something new.


Article by Petra Sandford. She has experience in the events industry and is also an accomplished content writer.