Implementation of a gift card in the tourism sector

by | 19 Oct, 2021 | INSIGHTS

The gift card represents a strategic asset for the tourism sector players. More than just a digital service, it can deliver additional attention to end customers, enhance the travel experience, and initiate a branded currency strategy.

To do this, the gift card service implementation is an essential step to the project success. In the travel industry, some features are essential to launch a competitive program. Here are all the points to pay attention to.

An international gift card

The tourism market can extend its actions to several countries. This point will impact the implementation of the gift card program which will be resolutely international. From the beginning, it will be necessary to think about how to structure the program in relation to the teams deployed in the different geographical areas. Is the information system specific to each country? If so, you will have to create a gift card instance for each point, and the card will only be valid at the national level. Or you can create a European or even international gift card program with a wider validity. However, be careful with currency management and respect the regulations regarding the gift card which differ in each country.

An omnichannel gift card

In terms of customer expectations, the choice of the journey and the channels uses is essential across all sectors. Every traveller expects to be able to research, decide, and go on a trip via their favourite channels. It can be more digital: on a laptop or a mobile, or more physical with a travel guide or an agency. Regarding the gift card service, they also want to have the choice between a physical card or a dematerialised one. Some will prefer to go to a point of sale to order a physical card while others will prefer to order an e-gift card online to be sent by email. Therefore, it is recommended to implement both.

It is even better to have a totally omnichannel card, that is to say that the digital gift card processing system is the same as the physical one. This will allow to be reactive in several situations. For example, if the delivery of the physical gift card is delayed, it will be possible to deliver a digital card. Moreover, it will allow a physical gift card recipient to create its dematerialised version which can be saved on his smartphone in order to have access to it at any time.

An evolving anti-fraud system

The gift card, especially its digital version, is prone to online fraud. Regularly, the card is part of the top 3 regarding the most fraud-sensitive dematerialised products. Therefore, it is essential to set up an anti-fraud system in order to avoid an attack leading to a major loss in revenue. Better yet, you need to have an evolving and intelligent system as online attacks are evolving rapidly, using new techniques every year.

Once a year, it is recommended to perform a security audit in order to detect potential new breaches.

Being reactive and attentive is essential to put all odds in your favour and ensure that the program remains a new source of revenue and does not become a sinkhole.

A seamless customer experience

Within the gift card service itself, customer experience will be fundamental to the success of the project. Before all, the card is a gift for which the buyer as well as the recipient expect an impeccable experience. The entire process must be analysed and dissected in order to identify and address blocking points.

Experiential features could be implemented to enrich the experience. The personalised message and the choice of the visual are expected features. But the tourism actor will be able to go further by setting up an emoji, GIFs, personalised photos or videos system. The ideal for tourism is to at least be able to put a picture of the destination.

We can imagine a whole packaging around the physical gift card: a nice box, the gift card in a display, goodies next to it, photos or even an inspiration guide for the choice of the destination.

For the digital card, we can rely on the email, photos or videos that make you dream, destinations proposals presented in an original way…

Everything is possible to start taking the recipient on a journey.

The service convenience for end customers

Even if it is wonderful to dream, future travellers always keep their feet on the ground and expect a certain convenience in the service offered. The tourism actor must facilitate the customer’s actions, both in the order and the gift card use. For the gift card, it goes through the choice of delivery (physical or digital, and the programmed date), the fluidity and the security during the order.

For the recipient of the card, it will be about being able to save his card on his mobile, or to be able to use his card several times as long as the amount is not entirely spent. The access to important information such as the validity date or the remaining amount should also be simple.

The implementation of a pot option is a very important point in the tourism sector, where the average basket can be high. Very often, when you want to offer a trip to a loved one, you agree on a common gift. The online pot will allow each participant to quickly pay an amount that will be transformed into a gift card to be offered.

Users learning of the service

A gift card service means a backoffice for the brand’s employees. Different departments within the company may need to use the backoffice: accounting, finance, marketing for operations, customer service for clearing facilities, etc.

For an optimal use and deployment, it is advisable to conduct in-house training on the gift card which is a specific subject, especially in accounting and the backoffice.

Moreover, it is relevant to carry out actions for the adoption of the new service and the digital gift card upon end customers: set up a tutorial, a Q&A…

To be fully prepared will allow you to save time and to focus on the performance and improvement points.

A developed communication plan for the gift card program

Very often, we have noticed a lack of communication from brands entering the gift card market. Generally, after having launched the service online, no action is taken to warn potential and current customers about this novelty, which represents a loss for the brand.

We recommend working on a communication plan on all the company’s channels. Another point is to set up an advertising device on physical points of sale and to attach the gift card service to the right place on the website. Customers expect to find this service in the header menu, in the gift category. Or even on the footer menu in the additional services.

You should also think about highlighting your gift card program on key dates. Christmas is the time when the number of cards’ requests explodes. Other dates should not be neglected: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandma’s and Grandpa’s Day, the beginning of the school year, Easter… For the tourism sector, the summer vacation season is an interesting period.

Have a long-term vision on your gift card

A successful gift card program is one where we work with a long-term vision. For example, starting with a flexible service is a strategic point. To remain competitive in the future, technical and experiential improvements will need to be made. A brand that is just starting out does not have to use the full potential of the gift card at the beginning, but can leave a door open for the years to come.

The program can start on the B2C side, i.e. a new service for individual customers. Then, it is possible to develop the B2B part, which means allowing professionals, CSE, HR (link art B2B tourism) to have access to the brand’s gift cards through a network of third-party distributors or in-house.

The tourism actor can consider connecting the card program to the marketing system to allow a new approach with customers and enrich the promotional operations. It can also be connected to the after-sales service to use the gift card as a compensation tool.

Finally, having a flexible gift card program, with a long-term roadmap, will help the brand to enhance its image through an elaborate branded currency strategy, and to stand out from its competitors in the tourism market.

Anticipation, reactivity and vigilance are the watchwords for a successful gift card program, that is to say a program that needs to be worked on and readjusted regularly following a defined strategy, while keeping an eye on the rapidly changing market, both in terms of consumer expectations and new technologies.

Suggestions for further reading

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

White paper the gift card and the tourism sector

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