According to First Data’s 2014 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study, 2,371 of those 3,724 surveyed had purchased or received plastic or virtual gift cards in the past 12 months, with 81 percent claiming they intended to purchase the same or more gift cards.
Is your restaurant currently selling one of the most popular holiday gifts, second only to electronics? Use the following nine tips to boost your holiday cash flow.
1. Offer holiday-themed cards. Alex Rafter, spokesperson for Square, which offers gift cards that integrate into Square’s POS, says that gift cards are easy to customize. “Add fresh designs for the winter holidays or other occasions such as birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day,” says Rafter. “A custom gift card with a neat design always seems more personal than something basic.”
2. Sell gift cards online. According to the Adobe Digital Index “2015 Holiday Shopping Predictions” report, Americans will spend upward of $83 billion online this holiday season (November to December), 11 percent more than they did last year. Besides being convenient for last-minute shoppers, the option to purchase your gift cards online will also help sell immediately to those you promote to via email and social media. “Letting customers purchase gift cards online truly boosts sales,” says Aron Cohen, systems manager for Six Points Restaurant Group based in King of Prussia, PA. “People from outside the area also like to purchase gift cards online as gifts for friends and family.”
3. Run a Cyber Monday sale. “We have an online ordering system, so we sell a good bit of gift cards online,” says Liz Lancaster, marketing, promotion and event planning manager at Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group in Jackson, MS. “Last year we ran a sale for one hour only. This is a great way to create some urgency with your customers; if they don't buy them now, they may not get another chance to get the deal.”
4. Put cards on display. Customers expect to see gift cards, especially around the holidays, so take them out of the drawers and place them where they can be seen—countertops, tabletops, a hanging display on the restroom door. “Your countertop is always a solid choice, especially for impulse buys when people are checking out,” says Rafter. “If you have sidewalk signage, message your new gift cards there for passersby.”
5. Promote, promote, promote. You can’t sell many gift cards if no one knows you have them. Beyond placing them in displays throughout the restaurant, promote them in your marketing materials and online. “Social media is a great place to spread the word,” says Rafter. “Email marketing can you help you reach your customers with the news, especially those who already know and love you. Regular customers are the most likely to gift their friends an experience at your business.”
6. Give a gift with purchase. Everyone likes a free gift, even when they’re shopping for others. Denise Erwin, director of sales at Bulla Gastrobar in Coral Gables, FL, says the restaurant runs a holiday promotion from November 1 to December 31 that gives the guest a $10 gift card when they purchase a $100 gift card. At Mangia Bene, Lancaster says the free $10 for each $100 gift card offer runs throughout the year.
7. Host a giveaway. One of the fastest ways to spread the word is through a gift card giveaway contest. “Announce your contest through a marketing email or on social media,” says Rafter. “If people are adding their name to the pool, there’s the added bonus of building your customer directory so you can target them with future marketing messages.”
8. Create a fun video. Videos are one of the most watched media online, so why not create one to promote your gift cards? “We've done everything from video to radio to magazine print ads to billboards to promote gift cards,” says Lancaster. “We've found that fun videos are really the winner here. People love them, but you have to be willing to be goofy and entertaining!”
9. Make cards reloadable. A growing trend in gift cards is the option to make them reloadable. Adding this option to your own card offers a number of bonuses. “If you treat the gift card as a reloadable ‘club card,’ customers can have access to exclusive deals,” says Cohen. “It allows them to be recognized as regulars who get perks.”