Celebrating the US Gift Card Market – The Changing Components of Hospitality & Gifting

By Jayne Stegemiller

Make Gift Cards EASY to REDEEM!

Change is the only constant these days, right? And since the pandemic started, the rate of change has greatly accelerated. The payments space is no different. Payments continue to morph into a congested arena of open and closed loop, contactless or trying to be, and whatever exact payment method drives a customer to buy. I wish I had the answer as to what is the best payment method to increase sales and profitability for my brand, while enhancing customer affinity. Maybe an answer lies in the hospitality industry?

The hospitality sector continues to see tremendous change as the pandemic wears on. The pandemic is materially so hard to address in this sector, due to the nature of business. We are in the people business. It is counter-intuitive to not want to provide service to your customer. Let us start here to see what hospitality in payments looks like to our customers today.

Today, payments are a hodge podge of what works for the brand based on current IS/IT resources and capabilities of the POS. Online experience is 100% dependent on what they have access to. The omnichannel payment concept is fragmented at best. It is time for the hospitality industry to embrace the customer payment journey. In the future, it can mean a variety of things in payments. It can be an easier, quicker checkout. It should be hassle-free. It wishes to leave the customer with a warm good-bye and “see you next time soon”. Gift cards are an integral part of that proposition. Gift cards can convey a thank you from a friend, a special note of trial from the brand, or a Christmas gift from a loved one, that wants to know you were thought of, even when they cannot see you.

MAKE REDEEMING THEM AS IMPORTANT AND EASY AS SELLING THEM!

  • Make gift cards special during the redemption process to drive engagement
  • Utilize your brand voice to create marketing materials to allow for continued focus to drive a faster redemption window
  • Create engagement opportunities to drive contactless interaction through streamlined marketing messages to enhance customer affinity to use them
  • Build your own brand loyalty through a stronger gift card program
  • Make it easy to redeem online and/or in your branded app to drive a higher basket
  • Communicate via social media channels that it is EASY to use a branded gift card

EASY redemption = opportunity to sell more gift cards for self-use and gifting!

Lastly, work through this process for your brand with others. Engage your internal stakeholders, vendor partners, and your peers in the industry to support. It takes everyone to move the needle. We are all in this together. Create a roundtable of folks, emerging and established, to add value to what you already know. The best solves in my career have been through utilizing strong relationships in the space to work through a branded, industry problem. Find ways to use your network to drive opportunities for your brand. Always stronger together even when we can only see or talk to each from a distance!