This pandemic has affected everyone in so many ways, and we are seeing first hand the enormous challenges hotels have had to face. But although hotels and restaurants have had to close their doors to guests, over the last few months, gift voucher sales have significantly grown.
Guests are still purchasing gifts during self isolation, with orders being placed every 5-10 minutes during peak trading hours. However, to get the best from your gift voucher platform, you’ll need to adapt your approach and create gifts and experiences that will inspire your guests during this period of uncertainty.
Here are just a few gift voucher trends that we have seen within the hospitality industry during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Celebrations and Birthdays
Pre Covid-19, our data showed that guests bought vouchers ‘just because’ – they would treat loved ones regardless of any real need to celebrate. However, over the last five weeks, that purchase mentality has shifted entirely and the majority of vouchers purchased are to mark birthdays. With increased time online and the inability to shop ‘realtime’, data shows that more birthday gift vouchers are being bought now than at the start of the year.
If you sell vouchers through your website, take advantage of these trends. Make sure you have a range of vouchers that include celebration dinners or birthday lunches and afternoon teas that include a personalised mini birthday cake too.
Due to properties being closed and social distancing in full swing, now is a good time to offer your guests flexibility when it comes to the redemption of their vouchers. Traditionally, most UK vouchers tend to have a 12-month validity period as standard, but think about extending them for guests when they come to redeem them, or automatically extend validity to a 18 or 24 month period.
Sensitivity is key, and now is not the time to be appearing to ‘sell’, and the retail sector is seeing huge demand for heavily discounted items – up to 70%, to encourage purchases. However, if used correctly, an offer can be very well received by your guests and be a great way to positively generate brand awareness. Adopt a community-based initiative such as ‘giving back’ or ‘supporting the NHS’, rather than doing a flash sale of heavily discounted items that may only benefit yourselves. Many of our clients have put together carefully created campaigns, so please get in touch if we can help you.
Think outside the Box
Why not be imaginative with your Gifted site and use it for more than just gift vouchers during this time?
One of our clients, Alexander Hotel and Spa in West Sussex, is marketing local suppliers on their gift voucher platform. This is a great way to promote local businesses and help the hotel stay connected with their guests.
Another successful idea has been a reward scheme to thank key workers, local heroes and members of the NHS. One way to say thank you is to donate 10% to charity with each voucher that is purchased, or match voucher for voucher. This way, you are making a generous contribution to the community and still generating revenue. Another Gifted client, Chewton Glen, has generously committed to match every spa day purchased with a complimentary spa day to an NHS worker.
There has been a 50% drop in postal orders since 1st March, with many guests opting for email as their voucher delivery method of choice. This, in part, is due to the uncertainty around the Royal Mail service and precautions around social distancing and deliveries in general. Make sure you have email delivery set up on your account and that you review your e-voucher design.
So, what’s the best way to utilise your gift voucher offering over the coming weeks? Our key takeouts are…
- Create a voucher range suitable for birthdays and celebrations
- Offer flexibility
- Carefully create an ‘offer’
- Get creative
- Encourage guests to select email delivery
- Let us know how we can help
It’s easy to feel a little shell shocked at the moment, but if you keep offering up new and hopeful gift ideas for your guests, you’ll be in a much stronger position once this period of uncertainty passes. Gift vouchers are a unique tool you can use today to stay connected with your guests and offer them the ability to spread love, joy and a bit of positivity during isolation.