Tangela, Flareon, Wigglytuff and Articuno: coming to an airport near you

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
OTG Doduo at Saison, EWR
Two heads are better than one: OTG captures Doduo at Saison, Newark Liberty Airport

Pokémon dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh, oh, oh, Pokémon – By Bob Dylan (nearly)

News that airport restaurateur OTG has embraced  PokémonGo should not have come as a surprise. After all, the games phenomenon has taken the world by storm in recent weeks and OTG is, I believe, the most innovative concessionaire in the airport industry.

Pokémon Go is a free, location-based augmented reality mobile game for iOS and Android devices released earlier this month in the US and selected other markets. It is already the most popular game in the history of smartphones and now has more daily users on Android phones in the US than Twitter.

But in writing my story about the link to OTG, I discovered a small problem – I have absolutely no idea how PokémonGo works, or why I would possibly want to spend my time playing it – further confirmation no doubt of my relentless advance into the autumn years of life and increasing isolation from a world where virtual has become reality. But surely 21 million Americans (that’s five times the population of my native New Zealand) can’t be wrong… right? Mmm, then how do you explain Donald Trump being elected as the Republican Party’s Presidential Candidate?

Fortunately, I have four children, all of whom are spending worrying amounts of time pursuing Pokémen… sorry Pokémon ( the plural of every Pokémon species name is the same as the singular).

Over a weekend BBQ (I cooked, they looked at their mobile devices), I asked them if the game could be applied to our industry in any way.

OTG Eevee at Crust, LGA
Captive passenger: Eevee spotted at OTG-run Crust at La Guardia Airport

Could I, for example, place a few hundred travel retail Pokémon around Mumbai to attract more delegates to The Trinity Forum in September? Or would speakers be put off their presentations by the sight of mobile device-wielding delegates trying to capture Pokémon to the side of the podium?

Could we create two new  Pokémon characters, say Dermoturtle and Moodiesan, and win ourselves millions of new readers?

Could TFWA (its acronym redefined as Tangela, Flareon, Wigglytuff, Articumo) embrace the concept in Cannes? Could the association find a clever way to ‘Lure’ (see, I have the parlance mastered already) buyers onto stands? (Imagine the crush if, say, Zapdos, Squirtle, Blastoise or Dratini – I’m not making this up, I promise – were sited on the Chanel stand. That would certainly pose a challenge to the French house’s ‘Strictly by appointment only’ policy).

Could we create ‘Pokéstops’ within airport shops around the world, offering ‘hatch one get one free’ Pokémon eggs, linked of course to generous shopping discounts? After all, I learned that the rarest Pokémon hatch from eggs after a 10km (6 mile) stroll – about the length of the average walk to gate in many terminals.

My offspring looked at me (briefly, before looking down again at their devices), a certain blend of sadness and pity in their eyes, and shook their heads. “No you couldn’t do that,” said the youngest dismissively. Well, OTG just did. So there.

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