Already, consumers are making a holiday wish list and checking it twice. On that list, the National Retail Federation says that 59% want gift cards this year. While that’s excellent news for the last-minute holiday shopper, it could also mean more bookings for you.
That’s because there’s also an uptick in demand for experiential gifts. In fact, 46% plan to purchase intangible gifts this holiday season, like food and beverage experiences. Instead of giving something that will last long in a landfill, consumers are choosing to gift long-lasting memories.
What’s more, Millennials are coming into their prime spending years while leading the pack in online purchases. Heading straight for good deals and convenience, they’re showing preference toward electronic gift cards over plastic.
Putting everything together — as a tour and activity business — you’re in a good position to sell gift cards online for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Travel Deal Tuesday, and beyond.
Why digital gift cards are popular
While there’s something so gratifying in unwrapping a gift, virtual gift cards are still rising in popularity. Not just during the holidays, but all year long. Here’s why:
- Shoppers often face choice overload, and feel better letting the receiver choose what they want
- The convenience is incomparable — e-gift cards are quick and easy to buy
- There’s no shipping, so they can send in real-time, which is ideal for those with loved ones across the country
- They can complete checkout at home and avoid crowds, lines, traffic, and busy parking lots
- Helps shoppers stick to a budget, since gift cards often come in an even amount
- By law, gift cards cannot expire within five years, which gives an ample amount of time for redemption
- For the recipient, it eliminates the need to carry a stack of cards in their wallet — making it impossible to lose
As you can see, digital gift cards make the perfect gift. But what’s in it for your tour and activity business?
Why you should sell gift cards online
Running a gift card program has many benefits — like bringing in new business. Of course, you can display plastic gift cards at your front desk to pay the experience forward. But you should also sell gift cards on your website, seeing as you can leverage this as a marketing tool in the following ways:
1. Generate buzz around a specific season
The festive season isn’t the only time for gift-giving. From birthdays to Valentine’s Day to just because, consumers always have a reason to look for gift ideas. So, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your gift certificates year-round.
Unlike plastic gift cards that you have to order in advance, you can customize electronic gift cards on the fly. All you have to do is upload a themed-design for an upcoming occasion, and work it into your seasonal marketing strategy.
For example, let’s say you offer a Tulip Tour and Tea around springtime. Since many mothers would love this experience, you can promote it leading up to the second Sunday of May, along with a custom Mother’s Day gift card.
2. Drive website traffic and brand awareness
Obviously, when someone receives a gift card, they visit the store. It’s the same with digital gift certificates, except the natural next step for the recipient is to browse your tour and activity website to see what they can book.
Depending on the value of the card, they might come back again and again until they use up the full amount. And since shared experiences are the best experiences, they’ll likely recruit family and friends to join — who might become repeat customers, too. The cycle never ends.
On top of that, your gift card advertising ideas can lead to a spike in website traffic, assuming you always provide a link to follow. Or better yet, using related keywords on your website — like wine tasting gift card — can boost your organic reach, and capture those specifically searching for activity gift cards.
3. Boost customer engagement and loyalty
Most often, plastic gift cards come with a blank envelope. The gift-giver can sign their name, write down the dollar amount or leave a thoughtful message, making it seem less generic and more personal.
Your guests can do the same with e-gift cards. For instance, Checkfront’s gift certificate add-on lets the sender write a message at the time of booking, choose the theme, and pick a specific, automated delivery day.
Also, when you sell gift cards online, you can set up email notifications for the recipient and tell them the good news or re-engage them with the remaining balance at a later date. With plastic gift cards, you don’t get the chance to connect with the receiver right off the bat, if at all.
This level of personalization and ease of use provides higher quality service for both the sender and recipient, leading to better guest satisfaction all around.
4. Increase revenue and your bottom line
Without a doubt, gift cards are great money makers — plastic and digital alike. That’s because you:
- Don’t lose out from cancellations: if the recipient can’t make it for the booking, the refund goes back on their gift card for later use
- Can easily upsell on the experience: since the recipient doesn’t book with their own money, they’re usually more willing to purchase add-ons or merchandise — 65% spend more than 38% of the gift card face value
- Sometimes make extra money: when your guest buys a gift card, you get paid instantly, but that doesn’t mean the recipient will end up using the full amount — $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year
Where physical and virtual gift cards differ is in the upfront cost. Gift cards with a full-colour design and magstripe or barcode can run you 75 cents per card. Of course, you can get a better deal ordering large quantities, but what if you don’t sell out?
On the other hand, an e-gift card program is an affordable solution. Some software providers offer free digital gift cards but charge a small processing fee. Whereas others — like Checkfront — include a gift certificate add-on in their payment plans.
While you should sell both plastic and digital gift cards to deliver an omnichannel guest experience, if you’re new to a gift card program, it’s a good idea to start with online. Luckily, with Checkfront, you can get a booking software and e-gift certificate solution, all in one.