How to Turn Your Restaurant Into a “PokeStop” (And Why You Should)


Update – 7/20/2016: With the huge request to be PokeStop of Gym, Niantic says that “we are currently not accepting submissions for new PokéStops or Gyms.” on their website. However, as the confirmation from the CEO, sponsored retail locations will be coming soon.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve most certainly heard of the increasingly popular: Pokemon Go.

This world-wide phenomenon has spread so vastly and so quickly that just a week after its launch, it was already being used more than other extremely popular apps, including Tinder, Snapchat, and even Twitter! In case you’ve heard the Pokemon Go-related terms floating around, but you don’t really know what the game is, let me start by briefly explaining the game to you…

What is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is an augmented-reality mobile game in which players navigate through the real world to hunt for digital Pokemon. Once a Pokemon is spotted, it must be captured by using Poke Balls or potions.

There are two types of locations in the game that are essential for playing the game: PokeStops and Gyms.

A PokeStop is a real building or place – like a business – around a city where players can stop for some extra digital rewards, like Poke Balls and potions.

A Gym, on the other hand, is a location where players can battle their Pokemon against other users’ Pokemon to gain control of that specific location for their team. Okay, so you’re probably wondering:

What does Pokemon Go have to do with me and my restaurant business?

Well, both of these locations – PokeStops and Gyms – greatly attract players on a regular basis. Therefore, many smart business have already caught on and taken advantage of this.

Pokemon Go Is Driving Insane Amounts of Sales at Small, Local Businesses. Here’s How It Works

Pokemon Go fervor has Chicago-area businesses tapping in to draw customers

Local business like stores, gas stations, movie theaters, and yes – even restaurants – have learned how to turn their location into a game destination and are now attracting more potential customers and capitalizing on this increased foot traffic.

How can I turn my restaurant into a PokeStop or Gym?

The option to create or change a PokeStop in the Pokemon Go game is actually a relatively new feature. When the game was first launched, players and business owners couldn’t do this, but they now have the opportunity to submit a request if they wish to do so, using the request form created by the game’s developer, Niantic. Using this form, players can submit requests to create new PokeStops or Gyms if there aren’t any located around them, or they can submit general requests to create PokeStops or Gyms (for any other reason), which is the route you would take as a business owner to turn your restaurant into a game destination.

You’ll need to visit this support page and fill out a form to submit your request, and attach a photo of your restaurant. This form only allows you to submit a business, not a home residence.

There is also no guarantee that your restaurant will be accepted.

How do I benefit from and capitalize on turning my restaurant into a PokeStop or Gym?

There are several different methods and techniques you can use to make money with Pokemon Go, specific to whatever you’ve made your restaurant – a PokeStop or a Gym. If you’ve turned your restaurant into a PokeStop, the smartest thing you can do is use the in-app purchase, Lures. Lures simply increase the rate at which Pokemon are generated in the area around your PokeStop, and they are active for a half hour. Although a half hour may not sound like a lot, it is much more powerful than you think. By paying just over a dollar per hour, you can bring in huge crowds to your business, and the ROI in this case is absolutely insane!

Alternatively, if you’ve turned your Pokemon Go into a Gym, throwing down Lures isn’t an option. This isn’t a downfall though, because players are constantly visiting Gyms on their own to compete with other users to take control of the Gym for their team. Capitalizing on a Gym mostly comes down to creative marketing in the real world to engage with people playing the game. Here are a few techniques that you and your restaurant should consider using to get the most out of your Gym:

1. Host a Gym Battle tournament. Hosting a tournament will bring in even more players to compete for your Gym, which means more potential customers and business for your restaurant! Be sure to advertise that you’ll be hosting the tournament in advance to get as much foot traffic as possible!

2. Post a public scoreboard. Hang a dry erase board or chalkboard in your restaurant with whatever team is currently in control of your Gym. Be sure to keep the board updated whenever the leading team changes. Having this sort of publicity will motivate players to try harder and keep coming back for more.

3. Offer giveaways. You could even offer a small discount, gift card, or other reward to the members of whatever team is in control at the time. This doesn’t have to be anything big or costly; just something that will keep players coming back to your restaurant.

4. Use social media. Social media is one of the best tools you can use to increase business and capital. One great way is to offer customers a small discount if they take an in-game screenshot in your restaurant, post the photo on social media, and tag your business in the post. This is an incredibly fast and easy way to spread your business name online and draw new customers into your establishment. If you’re active on Twitter and/or Instagram, be sure to use – and encourage others to use – hashtags to appeal to even more players.

UPDATE: What if you are not in the list? Don’t worry, you still can help your customer to catch ‘em all!

With the huge request to be PokeStop of Gym, Niantic says that “we are currently not accepting submissions for new PokéStops or Gyms.” on their website. However, Niantic CEO Confirms Sponsored Retail Locations Are Coming To ‘Pokémon GO’.

Keep your eye out for any future updates that are added to the game, as these will inevitably open up even more windows for your restaurant businesses to thrive.

However, you still can do a lot of thing to help your restaurant to drive more traffic:

Try to catch some Pokemon in your restaurant and take a screenshots of the Pokemon you have found in your restaurant then just share them. Tip: You can catch more Pokemon at midnight. You can motivate your customers to catch the Pokemon in your location and tag you on social media and reward for them by directly discount on their bill.

By using a Local Awareness Ad, you can announce that just only pay customer could “Catch ‘em all” here. We are not actually responsible for how many Pokemon they can catch but they will think they can catch a lot with that announcement.

Considering how fast this virtual epidemic has spread, there is no doubt that Pokemon Go will continue to release more updates as time goes on. There is even talk about possibly trading Pokemon and various items in the game in the near future. Keep your eye out for any future updates that are added to the game, as these will inevitably open up even more windows for your restaurant businesses to thrive.

Stephanie Mialki

Stephanie Mialki

Digital Marketing Guru at Hacker Freelancing
Stephanie Mialki is a digital marketing guru and the owner and operator of Hacker Freelancing.
Stephanie Mialki

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