It’s in the news and it’s on everyone’s phone. In the last week, I’ve read countless articles about Pokémon Go, and that’s just within the events industry!

Just last night I was walking around my suburb when I came across groups of people, heads down with their faces aglow – searching for Poke Gyms, Stops, Medals and more.

So I’m calling it now; Pokémon Go is most likely the app that launched a thousand copy-cat apps. So how does a trade show organiser react to what is the first wave of mass adoption of AR? Let’s take a breather from our devices and look at this from a strategic B2B perspective.

Since Pokémon Go launched on July 7th, event organisers have already started considering jumping on the AR bandwagon and there are already a handful of vendors pushing their newest innovation. But just like any other engagement initiative, there are key things to consider before taking the “virtual” leap.

There is a reason Augmented Reality gaming has gained popularity. The target demographic age range is 7-30-year old’s. They do not hesitate to jump on new technology fads and they’re familiar with the Pokémon brand and primed for this type of engagement. They were practically born with smart phones in hand!

But if we look at this from an historical perspective, tactics designed to increase event engagement through Gamification have been around for years. Think back to the days of paper bingo cards and stamps. More recently, mobile apps have allowed for more immediate feedback with leader boards and participation reporting.

And with the increase of Millennial professionals becoming a highly targeted attendee demographic, folding Gamification into event experiences has gained even more traction.

But I remember when the QR Code was going to change the world and the game Pog was popular. So I put together a litmus test for understanding if event organisers should explore an Augmented Reality game at their event or not.

Pokémon Does Not Go with Everything

1. Know Your Audience

What is your demographic? You know your audience better than anyone. Have you utilized some sort of gaming in the past? Was it successful? Do you know how many people participated and why they participated? The analytics don’t lie. If your gaming play fell flat with your audience, AR gaming most likely will as well. Just because 13-year-old kids like it this week, doesn’t necessarily mean you need to realign your entire event strategy. They also enjoy subversive Instagram Memes and Trap Music, is that right for your show?

2. Understanding Your ROI

Who really benefits from the game? In app Gamification is a great way to direct attendees’ attention to specific places and engage them in ways you couldn’t previously. However, is it worth it to invest the time and money it takes to not only develop this type of augmented reality game but also the marketing? Just because you build or deploy it does not mean your audience will play it.

3. Fad or Fact?

Augmented Reality seemed to surpass innovations in Virtual Reality in a matter of weeks. This reiterates how rapidly technology advances. How quickly will your audience move on to the next shiny thing? Will this fail as quickly as it rose?

4. Safety First

You’ve already heard it on the news and probably first hand from either your children or friends’ children. People falling into manholes, running into things, walking into oncoming traffic! It seems crazy to me that people can be this wrapped up in a game. But it’s a reality and as an Event Organiser, it’s your job to keep your attendees safe and to help them engage. A lawsuit over an injury isn’t something to take lightly!

5. This is the Future, Be Proactive

In a recent edition of Standford University’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership Podcast, Astro Teller, Artificial Intelligence expert and head of Google’s X Program said he didn’t think people would ever use their mobile devices to take photos of themselves. Clearly he was, admittedly – wrong. So while the naysayers debate the relevancy of AR games in the trade show space, you need to trust that your technology vendor will dig in to understand the implications for their event technology platform and services.

You may not know what a Poke Gym or Poke Ball actually are, but don’t concern yourself with this. You just need to know how to recognise a trend. That’s what being on the forefront of event technology is all about. Understanding the trends, the business and technical implications, and how to actualise innovation so your events can leverage it for the future.