More than $100 billion USD is loaded onto gift cards by consumers each year. Are you part of this mammoth stat?
Whether it’s the holiday season, birthdays, graduations, or any other celebration, allowing your guests to gift an experience to their loved ones is not only good for business, it’s more meaningful than a gift card to Starbucks, Amazon, or the generic Visa gift card. A 2018 study found that 74% of Americans prioritize experiences over products, therefore it can be inferred that receiving a gift card at an attraction is more valuable than a gift card for a retailer, even if the dollar amount is the same. Not to mention, attractions and experiences are not impacted by supply chain issues as retail industries rely exclusively on their goods arriving on time.
How can you tie in gift cards to your guest experience strategy? When done effectively, promoting gift cards should harness the satisfaction that guests have when visiting, and lead to your most loyal advocates influencing others to visit as well - thus introducing new guests to your business.
In The Guest Experience Flywheel, the final two stages of the guest journey are Return and Advocate. Once you have delighted your guests and effectively exceeded their expectations, you can begin to plant the seed for their next visit, as well as work toward having them advocate for you. When a guest is an advocate, it means that their connection to your business extends far beyond their initial visit, and even beyond their own repeat visitation (which hopefully you’ve now gained them as a member or annual pass holder). When guests begin advocating, it starts with word of mouth, which can be achieved directly through friends and family, social media, and on online review sites. Each of these word-of-mouth channels spread the word about how great the experience is, with a strong recommendation to visit.
Gift cards can turbocharge the effectiveness of word-of-mouth because now there is a transaction associated with it that immediately helps to drive revenue for your business. Here is how the flow of events can look like:
A positive experience at your venue → Favorable word of mouth → Purchase of a gift card for a holiday, birthday, etc. → New guest(s) being introduced to your business → Positive experience at your venue
With every new guest that is referred (and paid for already), you gain a new opportunity to provide a “wow” experience that leads to more referrals, more visitation, and more loyalty. Gift cards can and should be a tool in your toolbox that helps you spin the flywheel faster.
Alternatively, as you know, gift cards are not only purchased for first-time visitors, but are excellent for those who are already loyal. If a loyal guest is advocating for you, then they’ve made it clear that they’re a fan of your business, and those around them know it. When it comes time to think of a gift for them, your business should be top of mind, and the gift card is the best way to gift the experience while still allowing the guest to have full flexibility over what day and time they come.
According to giftcard.com, 70% of consumers will spend more than the value of their gift card, in case you haven’t been convinced yet on the importance of selling them.
How can you maximize your gift card strategy so it has the most positive impact on your guest experience? Here are a few tips:
- Post them in a prominent location, near the point of sale, with accompanying signage
- Focus your signage and messaging on the value of gifting experiences, rather than transactional verbiage such as “buy a gift card”
- Communicate your gift card offerings in email marketing, especially to your members or pass holders, and particularly during the holiday season
- Reward your most loyal guests with gift cards when they spend a certain amount, as a way to give back and recognize their loyalty
As you take a close look at your business, the products you sell, and how you sell them, are you taking advantage of all the benefits that offering gift cards provides?