Gift cards are a 55 billion-dollar industry in the US (Wall Street Journal). No more the last-minute, last-resort gift option for that forgotten someone, gift cards are a practical choice for the time-conscious, cannot-bother-with-the-tinfoil-and-ribbon types! Is the appeal of gift cards limited to big-name retail brands or can hotels and travel companies tap into this goldmine?
The stumbling blocks for hotels:
The perceived value to the guest – A hotel gift card with low denomination would be less appealing to the recipient than a big-box retailer’s gift coupon for the same value.
Prior knowledge of the recipient’s taste and travelling habits – A $50 gift card for a luxury hotel is not exactly a budget traveller’s cup of tea
Research costs and fees: Unredeemed gift cards can lose value or incur extra charges. Do your homework.
A few ideas on reinventing the hotel gift card
– Treat the gift card as you would a business card. Have your company logo, website, brand mission on one side.
– Use the other side for a virtual tour of the hotel room or lobby or highlight your location – the city and its sights.
– Cross-sell and upsell: The gift card is a marketing medium with a shelf-life. Example: offer a half-price ticket to a top attraction for trying a new service.
Let the gift card do its job until it is redeemed and beyond that – it’s no longer a piece of plastic or that gift without a personal touch. It’s an opportunity to develop a life-long relationship with a new customer, regardless of the value of the card.