How to re-enchant customer experience in the tourism sector thanks to the gift card?

by | 14 Sep, 2021 | INSIGHTS

Like all sectors, the tourism industry has undergone and continues to undergo major changes. Digital technology has brought new players and increased competition, and the traveller’s journey has become longer and more complex. Consumers have become omnichannel and now rely on both online information (reviews, websites, blogs, social media, etc) and offline information to make their travel choices.

More than ever, tourism players need to focus their strategies on the customer first, understand the different touch points and anticipate possible expectations. Most importantly, the customer experience must now be mastered throughout the entire journey: before, during and after the trip, because travellers consider the entire journey to their destination and back home into their evaluations.

The slightest obstacle or the slightest element below expectations, and the entire journey is depreciated. The journey being an intangible element, based on emotions and feelings, all points must be perfectly worked out.

In this seamless experience perspective, the gift card is an undeniable asset, which can support the different strategies put in place, if it is well used.

So, how to enrich the traveller’s experience and journey with the gift card?

The gift card, a support to the customer experience in tourism

The success of tourism players is therefore based on the customer experience. A unique, memorable experience that will make consumers want to travel again. This is the case for 33% of French travellers and 69% of American travellers. Reactivation, quality, personalisation, brand commitment… expectations are numerous.

Gift card: the beginning of the journey

A good way to offer this travel experience is with a physical or digital gift card. Offering a gift card is much simpler for the future customer’s relatives. It allows to materialize the trip, while keeping the strong values of the gift.

When preparing a trip, the card can bring additional contact points and enrich the customer’s experience. For example, an e-gift card can be registered on a mobile wallet. Via this wallet, the brand has the possibility to send push notifications about new destinations, travel invitations, etc. The potential is huge.

The gift card as a marketing and relationship tool

The brand itself can offer gift cards with predefined amounts to its customers. An additional point to improve their experience or to incite them to come back.

It can be offered at different times, throughout the journey:

In the research and booking phase: To enable the adoption of a new booking channel, a new destination or a travel assistance application, offering a card could give the necessary motivation. This tool has the power to change habits, if used wisely.

During the trip: To enhance the experience of a traveller still on site, the brand may decide to offer a gift card to access additional services.

At the end of the trip: A customer travelling for the first time with the brand, arrives at the end of his experience. The brand may consider offering a gift card with a thank you letter to encourage them to return or even extend their stay.

The impact of online reviews is important in the tourism sector. 42% of consumers consult reviews during the research phase. Moreover, it is easier to leave negative reviews than positive ones. Therefore, to encourage satisfied customers to leave a review, offering a gift card may be an option.

Customer service: Sometimes experiences don’t meet expectations. Customers may also encounter problems or obstacles, whether or not it is because of the brand. Here, the gift card can serve as a compensation tool. For example, if a means of transportation had an unexpected delay, the brand has the option of offering a card with an apology note to repeat the experience or take advantage of a service. In the case of a traveller waiting for 2 hours for his plane in the waiting room, it would be very appropriate for the airline to offer him a 5€ card to access a streaming service in order to wait. The wait would then be more pleasant.

After the trip: The gift card can be used as part of a sponsorship operation, allowing a satisfied customer to become a brand ambassador. The action of giving will be all the more powerful for the customer, as it will allow one of his relatives to live the experience, and the brand to expand its customer base.
For occasional travellers, the gift card is a good way to reactivate them, and why not give them the necessary impetus to leave this year.

Finally, the gift card allows you to compensate for the problems encountered or to lessen the impact on the overall experience, and to enrich the positive points to reenchant the trip.

Think of the gift card as a branded currency for a successful tourism experience

The card is an excellent tool; however, it must be thought of as a branded currency to increase its potential. The card is above all a currency, a reflection of the brand. A powerful tool, if used at the right time to the right person and in the best format. The idea to think about the gift card not as a means among others, but rather as a whole anchored in a well-crafted strategy, will allow the brand to identify growth points.

To do this, the brand must already work on its image, but also have a data-driven strategy to improve its customer experience. A 360° vision of the data, the development of insights, the construction of customer profiles, the reporting of evolutions, are essential to initiate a successful strategy. In addition, structuring the insights/profiles and managing the experience must be added to create personalized and memorable moments.

Issuing a gift card to a person without having analysed the data beforehand will be inefficient. On the other hand, having detected that a particular traveller profile is likely to be interested, that they are at a key stage of their experience, and finally knowing the best way to send them the card, will create all the right conditions to maximize the results.

The gift card can be sent in physical or digital format depending on the type of customer. The visual, the message, the indications will be different from one traveller to another. For some, it will be relevant to encourage them to save the gift card in their mobile wallet. Others, on the contrary, will be more comfortable with a physical gift card to store in their wallet.

Another point is that the customer must immediately understand why he is receiving this reward. How much effort did he put in to get this gift? Was it because of his patience, or his investment? Knowing that it didn’t “fall from the sky” will only increase customers motivation and commitment to use their card, which will become a true experience regulator for the brand.

A good trip does not come without a good customer experience. All the players in the tourism industry have understood the importance of investing and working on this experience. And one of the keys to success in this market is to couple data management and branded currency with gift cards. All this, in order to become a creator of unforgettable moments.

Suggestions for further reading

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White paper the gift card and the tourism sector

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