What Can Pokémon GO Teach Us About Trade Shows and Events?

 It seems that everywhere you go today you see swarms of people with their phones held up wandering around in a trance. We can’t think of anything that has come close to engaging people the way Pokémon GO is. So for all of us working in trade shows and events, what lessons can be learned? Here’s a few thoughts:

  • Gamification is king Trade shows, of course, should never be about displaying some product, putting up a few signs and seeing what happens. To be truly successful, they need to do something that hooks people—and hosting games may be the single most powerful way to do it. Exactly why is a mystery, but game theorists think it has something to do with “intermittent variable rewards,” the same principle that slot machines are based on. Whatever it is, if you can tap into the power of games at your show or event, you’re golden.
  • Originality is key To get a strong, immediate response like Pokémon GO is having, you’ve got to have novelty on your side. Coming up with something fresh is a big enough challenge. But selling it might be even harder: it takes time for people to get comfortable with what they’ve never seen before. So when you see an original idea you like, put on your armor and defend it from the naysayers.
  • Creativity is everything else Pokémon GO was built from a technology called augmented reality that’s been around for years. The characters themselves are at least a decade old. But a new twist on an old idea made it a hit. And that’s a reminder to all of us that creativity—which is really just seeing old things in a new way—is the indispensable magic ingredient. Seek it out in your partners and the force will be with you. 

It’s also worth remembering that the game you approve needs to reinforce your brand and message. The Taco Bell chihuahua was a huge international hit and people loved the dog but he failed to inspire them to buy more burritos. A game people enjoy that doesn’t amplify your sales message won’t get you to where you want to go, either.

Of course, the best way to make sure you’re getting original, creative and relevant gaming ideas is to work with a partner who has traveled that road before. As in all things relating to trade shows and events, finding the right partner is everything.

Here’s hoping you “capture” a great gaming idea for your next exhibit!