Cashing in with Gift Cards During the Holiday Season
Gift card sales rev up during the holidays, and for operators it’s a great gig to be part of, stirring up revenue and often introducing new customers to the concept.
Here are two statistics worth paying attention to: When asked, 40 percent of consumers said that, for holiday gifts, what they want more than anything else are gift cards. Eclipsing clothing, electronics, furniture and even jewelry, the premise of a card front-loaded with discretionary spending power is pure catnip, according to WalletHub, which conducted the survey.
The National Retail Federation adds that 60 percent of consumers are keen on the idea of receiving a gift card. WalletHub also notes that breaking into sixth place for most popular gift cards is Starbucks, a strong signal that restaurants should be quick to market their gift cards, especially during the holiday season when sales explode.
“Everyone wants to give gifts that will be liked by the recipient and research shows that experiential gifts such as restaurant gift cards are more preferred than material items,” says Mary Steffel, assistant professor of marketing at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business in Boston. “They’re more socially connecting and people respond positively to that.” And for operator, the upside is big, too. “There’s very high likelihood that, when redeeming gift cards, recipients will spend more than the purchased value.”
Gift-givers like to feel that, even if they’re giving gift cards, they’ve put thought into the selection process and come up with something personalized and special. “That’s why you see so many designs at Starbucks,” Steffel says. “Customers pick out the one that is most appropriate and all of a sudden they feel like they’ve selected the perfect gift.”
Millions of recipients will coo with delight over restaurant gift cards received over the coming holiday season. Here’s how to join the party by promoting sales:
- For in-person sales, make it easy to purchase gift cards/gift certificates. Ideally, servers and bartenders can simply add them to the check.
- Use visual signage such as table-tents, on-menu notices and even chalkboards to highlight their availability. Especially at the holidays, consider adding info to the print-out of receipts.
- Independent restaurants may opt to use hand-written paper certificates in lieu of plastic cards. This is perfectly fine though the impact will be higher if they are personalized, perhaps printed or stamped with the restaurant’s logo. They should be presented in an envelope or small gift box.
- If you have e-commerce on your website, consider selling electronic gift cards.
- Some restaurants find that offering an incentive for purchase multiple gift cards or those with high value spur sales.