Selling gift cards is a terrific way to introduce new people to your facility and increase revenue.

‘Tis almost the season for big gift giving. I know, I know, your pumpkin is still on the porch and you’re hoping to have enough Halloween candy left for the trick or treaters later this month, but if you blink it will be Thanksgiving. Don’t get caught scrambling at the last minute trying to determine what your promotion will be this year.

According to the National Retail Federation, in 2018, over two-thirds of Americans went shopping over Thanksgiving weekend through Cyber Monday. During the entire holiday season, consumers are expected to spend around $1,000 on holiday gifts with gift cards coming in at over 50% of all spending. And with Small Business Saturday gaining in local store spending, you have a great opportunity not only to drive traffic to your business but also to gain some of that revenue.

Gift cards have a huge potential to make your facility more money, increase per capita spending and even earn passive revenue through card breakage, but a lot of businesses still offer them as an afterthought. That’s why we’ve brought this timely topic back with even more potential to drive your 2019 holiday business.

No. 1: Plan your strategy.

Remember that marketing smarter means taking a broad look at what you’re offering, to whom and how. The planning of your gift card strategy is no different and can go hand in hand with your other marketing efforts. Determine how you will leverage your in-store and online gift card marketing approach to make the most impact.

Offering your gift cards for sale both in-store and online is a no brainer. It allows your guest to purchase when, where and how it’s convenient for them, and it means you’re able to widen your reach by offering multi-channel selling opportunities.

For marketing, remember that creativity is key. Maybe one initiative you try is developing a gift card campaign to email out to your loyalty rewards program participants with a time-sensitive message, including a hidden purchase link for members to purchase their gift cards online before the general public is able to.

And don’t forget about social media. In 2018, the NRF saw huge spikes of social media traffic of consumers looking for sales and promotions during the Thanksgiving weekend. While Instagram saw the biggest spike year over year, all social media channels were impacted, so be sure to incorporate messaging across all your channels.

No. 2: Design your cards with your program objectives in mind.

Well-themed physical cards can increase your brand awareness. In addition to your business’ branding, consider specialty theming to meet the type of gift you’re promoting, like images of birthday presents, New Year confetti caps or other special occasions. Also, think about a card that can be used long-term, like a membership card.

When redeemed, a gift card can become a member card or be exchanged for one—whatever works best for you, the offering and the volume of gift cards sold. It might not make sense to have uniquely themed cards for every occasion, so consider gift card initiatives as part of your overall marketing strategy and see how and where theming may make the most sense.

No. 3: Encourage guests to keep their cards.

Converting a gift card to a membership or loyalty rewards card can be easy and seamless by linking the gift card at the time of redemption to a guest’s profile in your facility management software. At admissions, discuss their new membership or rewards card, terms and the registration process as necessary. In addition to storing any value, loyalty rewards and winnings, remember that assigning a card to a guest record will also protect a guest in the event the card is lost or stolen and provide you with guest marketing and spending information for your database for future analysis and offerings.

NOTE: It’s also critical that you consider how you want gift card revenue to be allocated in your revenue management system. Do you want revenue to be allocated when the card is sold, causing spikes in sales at that time, or when the card is used in your facility, using deferred revenue?  Find out if deferred revenue is right for your business.

No. 4: Think beyond gift cards as a simple tender type.

Gift cards don’t have to hold simple monetary value, so get creative with what you offer in promotions. Food and beverage combos, bonus play, bonus gift cards and attraction or admission entitlements can all be part of compelling gift options if done well.

For example, you could offer a bonus promotion that when a guest purchases $50 in gift cards, they get a $5 bonus gift card. You can configure that bonus money on the same card or on a different one and make it redeemable for food, attractions or game room or video play only if used with a cashless game room integration.

Be sure, though, that before every promotion you offer, you take the time to alert staff and train them on promotion details and redemption processes to eliminate confusion and the hassle factor at the point of entry.

No. 5: Make fulfillment easier.

Don’t forget to think about the logistics of how you want to fulfill gift cards sold during a promotion.

For online orders, will guests print out a barcoded pass with their gift card amount, or will you generate physical cards? If physical, be sure to think through whether you prefer to fulfill orders and mail out your gift cards at the end of each shift, once a day using your management system’s online fulfillment queuing system or have them picked up using a “Will Call” approach.

For existing CenterEdge users, sign into our Help Center and refer to this document for help with order fulfillment. You can also email with any questions!

The right approach to gift card sales can start your holiday season off in the black and make a difference in the year to come.

Have other ideas for leveraging gift cards in your facility? Share them with us in the comments or on Twitter!

Leave a Comment