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What does Pokemon Go mean for the travel industry?

If you havent played, or at least heard about, Pokemon Go, you may soon be in the minority. Not only has it single-handedly brought gaming giant Nintendo back to life but sparked conversations about the future of augmented reality (AR).

NB: This is a viewpoint by William Beckler, founder at AllTheRooms.

It may not be obvious, but the popularity of Pokemon Go could in fact be the harbinger of a revolution in travel.

That was then

Travel has always been influenced by new technologies, from planes, trains and automobiles to the web and now to new types of online interaction.

Look at how the early internet caused a shift from offline to online travel agencies and created an entirely new dynamic for hoteliers and airlines to market and price their services.

The web also changed traveler habits. Take Couchsurfing and Airbnb. The concept of staying overnight in a persons home when traveling isnt new,  people have been doing that for millennia. What is novel is the creation of a virtual environment that facilitates interactions and connections.

Now there are more than 40,000 places to stay on Airbnb in New York City, compared with 110,000 hotel rooms in the Big Apple. This means more people are visiting New York City who could not previously afford it, putting downward pressure on hotel prices and causing ripple effects across the rest of the accommodations industry

So what is the connection between Pokemon Go and todays travel trends

On the face of it, Pokemon Go is just another in a long list of games, think World of Warcraft andSecond Life  that is meant to keep people glued to screens so that they can spend time and money in a virtual world created by a profit-seeking entity such as Niantic, the games developer.

But what makes Pokemon Go different from its predecessors is that it hasnt created a virtual world entirely separate from the real world, it has created a virtual world overlaid atop the real world, and it has done so exceptionally well.

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