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Why gift cards are good business during the holidays

Published October 29, 2021

The winter months provide many people the opportunity to celebrate and reunite with family and friends. The weather calls for cozy clothes and hearty, warm dishes. Many folks are fortunate to get a few extra days off work. But what do the holidays mean for restaurants?

In most cases, restaurants see a surge of consumers during the entire month of December. Many people may be too busy holiday shopping, going on trips and visiting family to bother cooking for themselves.

Restaurant owners, especially small business owners, have a yearly opportunity to keep in front of customers, drive business and join the holiday festivities. This can be done by utilizing a meaningful strategy to offer gift cards and boost sales by making your way onto countless wish lists.

The powerful gift card

Gift cards are a cost-effective method for everyone. Customers can easily purchase them as last-minute gifts for loved ones, foodie friends, star employees and even acquaintances. Regardless, gift cards can provide a great experience at a lower price-point than many other gifts. People love receiving and using them, too.

Selling gift cards can also be a very lucrative way for restaurants to boost profits and exposure.   

Say it's holiday shopping season, and Jerry is buying gifts for each member of his old intramural basketball team. He purchased a new holiday sweater for Mickey, a set of steak knives for Keith and a new harmonica for Ron. But what about his foodie friend Brent? Brent’s biggest hobby is trying new restaurants and posting pictures of dishes on Instagram.

Jerry goes to his favorite steakhouse and purchases a $50 gift card—the perfect gift for his friend. Brent gets to visit a new restaurant that he may not have previously considered, then potentially becomes a regular.

One of the most common barriers to getting customers to visit a restaurant is recall. It’s difficult for brands and businesses to stay on customers’ minds. Gift cards can help by putting your brand’s name in front of consumers and incentivizing them to try your restaurant. A majority of diners only eat at restaurants 2-3 times a week, so the stakes of a meal out are quite high!

Gift cards lower these barriers by alleviating some of the monetary strain on customers. Plus, they immediately boost new guests’ likelihood to go to that restaurant. And once someone goes, they’re a lot more likely to visit again.

Selling gift cards

There are two primary formats for gift cards: physical and digital. Physical gift cards are usually made of plastic and fit easily into wallets or envelopes for gifting. Digital cards can be easily gifted via email. Redemption can take on a number of forms, such as scanning a code on the recipient’s phone, entering a code into the point-of-sale (POS) system or manually discounting the final bill.

There are also several places where the transaction can occur for the customer to purchase these presents. If you’re using physical cards, you can simply keep a stack of them on-site in order to distribute them whenever your customers need them. Loading the cards is usually as simple as swiping them like credit cards and following the POS prompts to load the appropriate amount, which you can charge to the purchaser’s payment method of choice. You can also preload a number of cards with common gift amounts, such as $50 and $100, allowing you to skip these steps and shorten the purchase process.

If you’re offering digital gift cards, you can accept even more purchase options. In addition to offering digital cards in-store that are redeemable via email, you can also display cards for sale on social media and your website. Encourage gift card sales and allow customers to purchase them online. Offer customers the choice to have the cards sent directly to the recipients or to the purchasers for hand delivery. During the holiday season, consider adding this as an add-on promotion during online and mobile orders.

Gift cards are a no-brainer when it comes to bringing in business during the holiday season. They require minimal investment by the restaurant, they bring in new and returning business and they’re very easy to administer and redeem from a logistical perspective.

When your restaurant is backed by NCR VOYIX, it's simple to stay out front.

Whether that's literally up front with your customers, or out front of your competition.

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