Gift cards are wonderful promotional tools. They generate business, encourage customer loyalty, and occasionally even pad your income when they aren’t redeemed . As a business owner, you have to take care not to be too generous — giving away too many cards or offering deep discounts can hurt your bottom line — but if you get creative, you can build brand awareness and promote your gift cards without breaking the bank.
Make new friends
Once you start selling gift cards, the possibilities for joint promotions expand massively. Work with hotels to offer part of a getaway package. Create dinner-and-a-tour packages with local restaurants. If you can work with high guest volumes, sponsor conferences so that your gift cards end up in their gift bags. Shopping centers at popular tourist destinations often create local exploration packages, and you could take part. You might even be able to find your way into employee incentive programs.
Watch for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to create them for yourself by reaching out to businesses that complement your own.
Add perks to those purchases
The classics may not always be exciting, but they work: people love free money, and gift cards given away with a minimum spend are exactly that. To build the most buzz with your gift card with purchase promotion, plan for a little extra legwork. Create a promo code active between your promotion’s dates, and advertise on your social feeds that anyone creating a booking of a certain value with that promo code between those dates will get a free gift card.
This will get you attention on social media, and it will also get you sales. According to GiftCards.com, 72 percent of gift card recipients spend more than the value of their gift cards. Given that most of your inventory is likely to cost more than any card you’d give away, that’s practically a guarantee.
During the promotion, you just need to keep an eye on your booking reports and send out gift cards to everyone who qualifies. One caveat, though: make sure to specify that gift cards will be cancelled if the booking is refunded for any reason.
Explore obscure holidays
Everyone knows that Christmas is the perfect time to promote gift cards, but that doesn’t need to be the only holiday on your calendar. Any gift-giving occasion is a chance to remind customers that your cards make great gifts, and any other holiday can be turned into a promotional opportunity if you get creative.
For example, Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd. People don’t generally give Earth Day gifts, so advertising your gift cards as the perfect choice for the occasion won’t get you much traction. But if you run an eco-tour, then it’s a great day to run a discount or promotion encouraging customers to treat themselves to an eco-friendly trip. Or you can advertise to locals with a deal that reminds them that there’s nothing more eco-friendly than spending a vacation exploring their own backyard.
If Earth Day isn’t niche enough for you, entertain your customers by saving your promotions for some of the obscure holidays you can find in resources like Chase’s Calendar of Events. Who knows? Maybe the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love is just the occasion for a giveaway.
Send customers your love
Post-trip emails are an important part of your marketing toolbox. You can use them to make your customers feel appreciated, to encourage them to keep in touch via social media, and to invite them to share their thoughts by leaving a review.
If you really want to make them feel loved, you can also send them off with a gift card. Create a batch of cards in low denominations to encourage people to book again, or offer a chance to win a card with more in exchange for a newsletter signup or social follow. Either way, you encourage an ongoing relationship with such a generous gesture.
You do have to be careful, though. If you plan to request a review in your follow-up email, make sure it’s absolutely clear that there is no connection between the review and the gift card. Incentivized reviews are forbidden under TripAdvisor’s policies. Even if you use a self-managed review platform, customers will be rightfully skeptical of your company if they feel you pay for reviews.
Say hello to your neighbors
“Staycation” is no longer the buzzword it was in 2008, but it’s still a popular holiday habit, particularly in areas dealing with depressed economies or economic uncertainty. If this isn’t a particularly busy time of year for your company, why not encourage a little local tourism and make friends with influencers by sending gift cards out to nearby businesses?
To avoid digging too far into your marketing budget, you might be tempted to set a tight price limit on your cards, but there’s an alternative: with Rezgo, you can create cards that can only be used to book specific inventory. Plan a fun event just for locals, one without too much overhead, and set a reasonable price — then give away gift cards that will cover that cost when booking that one item.
You’ll motivate people to check out your business, create goodwill by giving away freebies, and encourage recommendations all at once.
Play it smart
Getting creative with gift cards is fun, and can be a great boon for your business, but you should take care. Be aware of the laws governing the use of gift cards in your region, and provide clear restrictions so your customers know what to expect. If you use them promotionally, remember to account for their cost — just like you would any discount or marketing expenditure.
If you keep those simple rules in mind, your gift card promotions are sure to be a success.