To read this content please select one of the options below:

Mobile augmented reality (MAR) game as a travel guide: insights from Pokémon GO

Ajay Aluri (Department of Management, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




The purpose of this study is to examine the aspects of the Pokémon GO game that influenced travelers to use the app, and to pinpoint aspects of the mobile augmented reality (MAR) game that can memorably engage with them like a travel guide and influence individual traveler experience during and after usage. This current study specifically focused on examining the behavioral intentions to use the MAR app as a travel guide in the future.


Descriptive methods were used, with a target population for this study consisting of smartphone users who had downloaded Pokémon GO and had played the game. An exponential non-discriminative sample, snowball sampling method, was chosen by selecting a group of respondents who have played the game and using those to help identify other respondents in the target population who have played the game. A 15-item survey instrument drawing from industry insights and academic literature was created for the purpose of the study.


The number of downloads, length of usage and frequency of game play declined between the months of July and September. However, a 71 per cent majority of surveyed respondents still had the app on their smartphone at the time of the study. The Pokémon GO app offered all four realms of experiences – educational, entertainment, esthetic and escapist – and enhanced the overall user experience. This study revealed that a majority (77 per cent) of the respondents would be interested in using Pokémon GO as a travel guide. Furthermore, a majority (73 per cent) of respondents stated that they would be interested in using an MAR game as a travel guide in the future.

Research limitations/implications

For all its interaction with the real world, Pokémon GO is still just an early version of an MAR app, and does not offer a fully immersive and interactive AR experience. The study used snowball sampling due to its exploratory and may not be able to guarantee the representative nature of the sample. Concerning the research method used, such methods were necessary for a review of an existing MAR app as a travel guide to further fill some gaps in literature.

Practical implications

This study bridged the gap between theory and practice by offering key insights specifically into customers’ intentions to use the Pokémon GO game or other customized MAR game as a travel guide in the hospitality and tourism industry. Pokémon GO and similar MAR games could potentially change the way destinations are marketed in the tourism industry. This current study pinpointed five exploitable qualities of MAR technology and how hospitality and tourism businesses can use them to tap into this new global and social phenomenon.

Social implications

Pokémon GO and similar MAR games bring people together. In fact, unlike social media, where users are spending significant amounts of time just browsing without posting or interacting with others, MAR games create face-to-face interactions. MAR games enhance real-life social interaction, which might signify a social media trend back toward real world networking and meeting with friends.


Since the early 2000s, several qualitative and a few quantitative studies have been done to explore (MAR) applications as a travel guide; however, none of them have reviewed a MAR game app that can be offered as a travel guide. That makes this a pioneer study, investigating an existing MAR app that was not created with this use in mind and examining the intentions to use it as a travel guide.



Aluri, A. (2017), "Mobile augmented reality (MAR) game as a travel guide: insights from Pokémon GO", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 55-72.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles