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Can Gift Certificates be a Hotel Digital Marketing Technique?

by Pedro Colaco
May, 2013

According to studies made to consumers in the United States, gift certificates are highly popular. Gift certificates and gift cards are the most-wanted gifts by women and the third-most wanted by men. If you are not investing in gift certificates, and advertising them via your digital community, you are leaving a significant amount of hotel revenue on the table.

Hence, gift certificates or gift cards are a great way to grow your client portfolio, by driving traffic to your hotel or hospitality services. Gift certificates have a few characteristics that make them similar to viral marketing, and certainly a great digital marketing tool:

  1. Gift certificates enable hotels to reach consumers that they typically would not reach, representing a means of stimulating additional purchases.
  2. Gift certificates are highly targeted and the receiver is certainly motivated to use them, making it an even more efficient method of spreading your services to others.
  3. Gift certificates are personal proposals of satisfied customers, building your hotel’s credibility and reputation.

Promoting gift cards and gift certificates is a great way of maximizing your hotel’s revenue and visibility around what people can experience at your property. Gift certificates enable you to promote your spa, your gym, a dinner at your restaurant or any other characteristic that is distinctive for your property.

To date, creating and redeeming gift certificates has been difficult for individual properties. However, new digital marketing tools like GuestCentric’s all-in-one digital marketing system make the process simple: hoteliers themselves can now create gift certificate types that hold a pre-paid amount that can be spent at any of your hotels. These certificates can be bought online, via web, mobile or social channels and are easily sent by e-mail or delivered by postal services. This is a trend that has been very successful and will continue to be adopted by other hotels since it meets the changing needs of consumers.

We encourage and believe in this practice given the numerous pros, both on the hotelier’s side and the customer’s side. Regarding the hoteliers’ advantages we can summarize them as the following:

  1. Increase visibility of your hotel or chain of hotels, by attracting new customers.
    If someone offers a gift certificate, he is naturally encouraging others to purchase your services. Moreover, if the awarded is satisfied with your business there is a greater probability this person will return for more purchases, increasing customer loyalty.
  2. Boost in cash. Given its gift nature, an obvious consequence of this product is that it will typically boost cash in the holiday season. For example, during Christmas time you will certainly notice a peak in demand, but not necessarily in occupation.
  3. Fully automated, no additional work. Gift certificates are just another payment method. Your booking engine should be able to redeem them, and if it supports payment gateway integration, cash will be delivered straight into your account with no human intervention.
  4. Increase brand awareness. Make sure to customize and include your hotels name and logo in the vouchers. By comprising this information, you will increase brand awareness. This is yet another marketing strategy that will help advertise your service and your hotel brand will reach people that might otherwise not have known about your services.
  5. Gift certificates expire. For hoteliers this converts into an additional advantage since cash is not reimbursed to customers who do not use their gift card or do not redeem its entire value.

On the other hand, gift certificates also deliver great benefits to customers. The key advantages are as follows:

  1. Flexibility. Gift certificates do not have a specific date to be consumed; they have an expiration date and can be used anytime between the date they are received until the end date. Furthermore, they also allow the cardholder to choose from a range of experiences or inside a certain budget depending on the type of gift certificate.
  2. Easy to choose. Flexibility means that consumers can decide quickly to buy. Customers can purchase effortlessly online, within a click, making the acquisition possible anywhere. Such a flexible gift will definitely satisfy the receiver due to its flexibility and convenience.
  3. Custom-made to meet specific needs. Buyers can choose to add a message or name. This allows consumers to send an individualized gift, which can be personalized within certain standards in order to best fit their friends or colleagues tastes.
  4. Ease of delivery. This is a gift that can travel beyond boundaries. Easily sent abroad, it can be delivered via post or e-mail. Additionally, the latter has the benefit of having less chances of getting lost.

In summary, we believe that hotels can differentiate by offering unique experiences in gift certificates. Through the use of these gifts to promote their spas, gyms, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and other hospitality businesses hoteliers will profit immensely, meanwhile those lagging behind will miss out on a great opportunity to maximize revenue. Gift certificates are a promising way to do so and by bringing such advantages to customers you can be sure that your clients will purchase them.

All resources provided courtesy of GuestCentric. For more information please visit:


Pedro Colaco
President and CEO
  196 Haviland Court
Stamford CT 06903
Phone/Cell: (203) 517-0721

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