September 29, 2016

Property Management and the Dos and Don’ts of Pokémon Go!

Pokémon Go: You probably know someone who plays it. This free-to-play, location-based game was developed by Niantic and released late this past summer. Playable on most phones, it became an overnight sensation (and addiction!), with playing tips even appearing in business magazines like Forbes.

The game has its share of detractors: In Saudi Arabia, clerics deemed it “un-Islamic” and renewed an existing fatwa against it; in Russia, websites proclaimed the game to be a CIA plot; and in Israel, soldiers have been warned not to play the game on bases because it could reveal their location.

So how does Pokémon Go relate to you, as a property management professional? Believe it or not, Pokémon Go isn’t all fun and games. It’s also a marketing opportunity – and a potential operational risk.

Marketing Multi-Residential Units

One magazine editor cheekily asked how long it would be until apartments within the radius of Pokémon stops would command higher rental prices.

Other resourceful property managers have started incorporating Pokémon Go into marketing materials appearing on ILS like Craigslist to attract Millennials, by using Pokémon lingo in rental ads.

Passing fad? Maybe. But within one month of release there were over 100 million downloads of the game. Stats show that more than 60% of Pokémon Go players continue to play the game within three days after initial download. The average app industry figure for a three-day retention is about 15%.

Not only that, but Pokémon Go encompasses all key multi-residential target demographics, with about 45% of users in the Millennial age group, 30% Gen-X and 20% Boomers.

So how can multi-residential marketers take advantage of Pokémon Go?

The first step is to find out which Pokestops or gyms are near to (or on) your property. Once you’re in the know, put the word out. Advertise Pokémon hotspots via your website, in blog posts and on social media. Share resident posts and photos about what they’ve caught in and around your building.

When showing your property to prospective residents, ask if they play the game. If they do, let them know about gyms and other Pokémon Go stops. You could also provide all residents – potential and existing – with a map that points them toward prime Pokémon locations around the community.

Beware the Risks

As much as Pokémon Go is an opportunity, the game can pose a risk to your operations. There have been reports of individuals and groups of people trespassing in order to “Catch ‘em all.” One landlord in Maine put up a sign in frustration, telling trespassers to take a hike elsewhere.

Since the game launched, police have fielded many complaints from homeowners and business owners (not to mention prisons!) about trespassers in search of rare Pokémon.

This puts users at risk of personal injury. With their eyes fixed on their mobile devices, they’re not paying attention to their surroundings. It’s all too easy for them to slip or trip – or even walk into moving cars.

There have also been several incidents of homeowners lashing out at trespassing Pokémon players. You don’t want to create a situation where residents will strike out angrily at players who venture onto their private rental units.

Pokémon Go! With Caution

Pokémon presents plenty of opportunity to increase your property’s visibility and appeal. You just have to be smart about it.

Post notices to make renters and the public aware that they must respect the boundaries of individual apartments. Send reminders through your resident portal of simple Pokémon Go safety tips and make sure you have a forum for tenants to report their concerns.

The key to successfully unlocking Pokémon’s promotional potential is this: Proceed with caution. As the National Apartment Association points out, many multi-residential communities are capitalizing on the game’s immense popularity, engaging existing residents. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do the same.

If you want to learn more about what you can do – and what you absolutely shouldn’t! – to raise your marketing game, we can help. Sign up for your free account today or give us a call.

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Tasha Morton

Tenant Receivables Analyst, MetCap Living Management Inc.

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