upserve restaurant gift cards

During the traditional holiday shopping season, many people rely on local, independent restaurants as a respite from the hustle and bustle. They may also look to establishments like yours to help with their holiday entertaining needs, or even as a last-minute restaurant gift card option.

As the holiday season approaches, consumers are out looking for gift cards to purchase for their loved ones and dining at their favorite establishments after the holidays hit. First Data’s Prepaid Consumer Study found a few interesting insights into how shoppers spend during the holiday season:

  • 54 percent of shoppers planned to purchase gift cards during the 2018 holiday season
  • The average consumer spends $59 beyond the original value of a gift card
  • 44 percent of shoppers say the gift card causes them to visit a store they wouldn’t have otherwise
  • 64 percent of shoppers bought gift cards for their own use
  • 33 percent of all consumers reloaded gift cards

“Our study shows that gift cards, or branded currency, are not only a potential growth engine for businesses, but are becoming the preferred gift for both purchasers and receivers alike,” said Dom Morea, senior vice president, head of gift solutions at First Data, a card payment processing company. 

When shoppers don’t know what to get a friend or colleague, the fall back is typically a gift card: a more thoughtful gift than cash that allows some spending freedom. However, you’ll need to put in a little extra work to stand out amongst the competition to boost gift card sales this holiday season.

waitress taking orders from group of friends at table

6 Ideas for Promoting Restaurant Gift Cards

It’s possible to double and triple sales of restaurant gift cards, you just have to approach it in the right manner. Finding the right marketing strategy for your unique customer base can help your restaurant gift cards fly off the counter this holiday season.

1. Get in the Spirit

Before you even think about restaurant gift cards, it’s important to set the scene for your customers to be thinking about gift-giving and the holidays. From the moment patrons enter your restaurant, you want it to be a positive experience, and that starts with the music. For the holidays, your goal is to appear festive, but you don’t want to be obnoxious (like playing Christmas music in October). You also don’t want to offend or alienate anyone by playing overly religious tunes. Follow these guidelines as you adapt your playlist for the holiday crowd:

  • Start playing holiday music in December. Shoppers are already being bombarded at the malls in early November, so don’t pile on.
  • Layer in holiday music with your existing soundtrack. That way, there’s something for those who aren’t feeling the spirit quite yet.
  • Select holiday music in a style that appeals to your restaurant atmosphere. You can choose genres like instrumental, jazz, modern pop, or rock.
  • Beyond music, use your televisions to set the holiday mood. Play holiday classics like Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life on a couple of your screens.

And don’t forget about decor. Avoid holiday-specific decorations and opt for snowflakes or more winter-focused items so you don’t have to redecorate come January.

Four female friends at lunch in busy restaurant, full length

2. Run a Contest

One good way to sell more restaurant gift cards is to associate a contest with each gift card sale. For instance, you can enter each gift card buyer into the contest to win something great from your restaurant—anything from a free drink to a discount on their next check works wonders.

As a side note, ask for an email address or phone number of the contestants so they can be contacted if they win the contest. Develop the entry form to include email or SMS opt-in. This would be a great way to not only get people to buy gift cards to enter the contest, but it would also open up the door for you to develop a robust email marketing or SMS list down the line.

3. Design Festive Restaurant Gift Cards

As for the gift cards/certificates themselves, have them designed with a festive look to reflect the holiday season. Make sure they’re also branded with your restaurant logo and colors so recipients know where they’re heading. Sometimes all it takes is a festive gift card to catch a customer’s eye to remind them that they’ve forgotten a couple of people on their gift-giving list. A gift card to their favorite bar or restaurant is the perfect solution.

4. Get Your Employees Involved

Try creating a friendly competition among your employees by offering a prize or reward for the person who sells the most gift cards. The prize could even be a gift card! Not only do friendly competitions like these make shifts go by faster for your servers, they’re an organic way to boost gift card sales at the same time.

Waitress taking order in restaurant

5. Consider Signage Online and In-Store

Picture this: The biggest shopping season of the year is coming to a close and guests are dining in your restaurant with an anxious look on their faces. They need more gifts but haven’t been able to commit to any. Then they see a sign hanging up that reads, “Need Gift Ideas? Our Gift Card Never Expires.” Or maybe another sign says, “Give the Gift of Choice with a Gift Card.” Any catchy slogan that promotes gift cards will work.

The place to start is by making a slogan decision based on what appropriately speaks to your audience. If your spot is known for being a little cheeky, go with something sassy. If class is the name of your restaurant’s game, take a refined approach.

Many holiday purchases are done online and this includes gift cards. Make your holiday gift cards available on your website, in physical and printable form, so guests surfing the web can pick up gift cards too. Offering a printable version is perfect for last-minute shoppers. These website guests will be thrilled to have the option.

The best part? This also works well on social media, too! Not only will it direct traffic to your site, but a restaurant gift card promotion gives you lots of social content to post about throughout the holiday season. You can even consider giving a discount to anyone who buys a gift card through social media or on a particular day that you post about them in order to really drive home the rewards.

Take your service to the next level with Upserve’s Restaurant Guest Communication Guide.

6. Promote Value

What has persuaded you to buy gift cards in the past? Some stores give the buyer her own gift card worth a percentage of the price being paid. It’s a great way to get the buyer back into the store while participating in the spirit of the holiday season and getting gift cards out the door.

Another promotion could involve a free product or discount offered for a limited time. For instance, if a guest buys a gift card, they may be given an incentive for 15 percent off in your restaurant only valid for that day. Another incentive to consider is one for customers who make multiple gift card purchases. For example, if they buy $200 worth of gift cards, they get a $25 gift card for themselves. Or you can do a buy three, get one free. This way another gift could be purchased at a discounted price, but it would have to be made that day. If this approach works, you can continue to run it as often as you’d like.

Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale in Madison and Westbrook, Connecticut, gives gift card buyers a break on the price. If you buy a gift card worth $75, it costs only $60. A gift card worth $50 costs the buyer $40. The fact that they run the promotion annually is a sign of success, but don’t think you have to copy the strategy exactly. Emulate it in whatever way makes the most sense for your restaurant gift card deal.

Upserve Gift Cards: The Easiest Way to Provide Restaurant Gift Cards

Providing gift cards in your restaurant is now easier than ever with Upserve Gift Cards. Our gift card solution is integrated directly into Upserve POS so getting started is quick and simple. Our custom gift cards, merchandising options, and displays meet the unique needs of each restaurant and are supported by our exceptional customer support and design teams. Best of all? There are no transaction fees to worry about.

restaurant gift cards

Support from start to finish 

Upserve Gift Cards is a perfect way to help your restaurant broaden its brand and drive more guests through your doors. As an added convenience, our Customer Success and Design Teams are available to assist with any support or design needs along the way. 

Simple customization  

The easy-to-use online portal lets you order custom gift cards and merchandise at any time. You can upload your own artwork when designing your cards, request complimentary assistance for simple design requests, or have our in-house design team start from scratch. 

Made in the USA  

Our restaurant gift cards are manufactured right in the U.S., so expediting orders is no problem! You can expect to see the gift cards delivered in as little as three days, shipped complete with a tracking number so you can follow your order right to your doorstep. 

Cardholders can easily check their balance right on their smartphone by scanning the QR code right on the back of their gift card or through a portal that can be hosted right on your website.

Learn more about Upserve Gift Cards and demo Upserve today!

Loyal regulars spend 67% more at restaurants than new guests do. With effective guest communication, you can make every guest a loyal regular.

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Written by   |  
Holly Everett is a five-year restaurant industry veteran turned small business marketing specialist. After working at Seven Stars Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island throughout college, she entered the world of marketing where she led B2B marketing initiatives at companies focusing on growing small businesses. At Upserve, she integrates her passion for the restaurant industry and knowledge of the needs of small business owners to help make restaurants wildly successful.