Beyond Pokemon Go: How Augmented Reality Could Change Resorts for the Better

Posted by Sasha Bailyn on Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

When you travel to a new location, do you look for Pokemon? If so, you’re not alone. The augmented reality game has swept the world in a matter of weeks. More than 100 million players are hunting the cute, virtual creatures as they take walks, visit cultural locations, and socialize with friends. When players use the app, they can see cartoonish animals transposed on their physical surroundings. The game map is overlaid on the physical world, and players can only move through the game by traveling actual distances.

Pokemon at Disney Springs

Pokemon have made Disney even more magical.

Right now, theme parks and resorts are aiding and abetting Pokemania. Parks like Legoland and Holiday World have released statements about the game, urging guests to play safely but also giving clues about Pokemon locations and hints about WiFi and charging stations to help guests play longer. Meanwhile, guests at resorts around the world are trading stories of Pokemon caught and Pokestops found. The Mantra Group in Australia actually purchases Pokemon lures, in-game devices that attract creatures, to encourage hotel guests to stop by the bar during happy hour.

Pokemon Go is obviously a fad, not a long-term marketing strategy. But the game’s success at combining virtual quests, an interactive setting, and social interactions could change the future of resort vacations. How? By creating a scalable, personalized recipe for adventure.

Augmented Reality Means Immersive Experiences for All Guests

Atrium of Historic Hotel in West Baden, IN

A historic grand hotel vacation could become all the grander with an immersive reality weekend adventure

For instance, mystery/thriller weekends are popular, but they’re resource intensive. Performers need to work all weekend, staying in character as guests track them down and try to solve a crime. The action must be confined to a few, carefully predetermined locations. Otherwise, there’s simply no way to host a murder.

Now, imagine what happens when a resort decides to host a mystery weekend using augmented reality technology of the sort used in Pokemon Go. Suddenly, all of the guests have the option of downloading an app and playing detective. Instead of actors who are always on the job, augmented reality allows for location-based events viewed on a smart phone. Guests can compete against each other to explore the resort and solve the mystery.

Mystery party in hotel ballroom

Wouldn’t mystery weekends be better if guests could roam the grounds in search of clues and interactions?

Or, consider holiday-themed weekends. Suddenly, October becomes a time for ‘ghost-hunting’ throughout the halls and grounds. A family-friendly resort could encourage children to collect virtual eggs on spring weekends.  Gardens and walking areas can become a place to look for fairies. Augmented reality allows resorts to provide exclusive, themed activities which fit into their guest’s schedules and which don’t require additional staffing.

Specialized Apps for Every Guest Demographic

Singles resorts could especially benefit from augmented reality apps that encourage guests to meet-up and socialize to complete the in-game quests. Themed weekends would naturally attract guests with similar interests, so the apps could move beyond facilitating fun to facilitating romance and adventure.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, resort-owned tablets with augmented reality apps for children could make it easier to create children’s activities that are both safe and educational while giving parents a break. For instance, an augmented reality nature walk on the resort grounds could include apps that pointed out the habitats for various plants and animals, or that gave users access to live cams in the tree tops or even underground.

As a fad, Pokémon Go may soon be gone. However, the app has pointed the way to a new future for augmented reality, one in which resorts can turn a normal vacation into an epic quest.


Images courtesy of:

The Orlando Sentinel.

French Lick Resort.

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