It was in the run up to Christmas 1932 that the first book tokens went on sale in the UK. A few years later Boots started selling the first individual store vouchers. Eight decades on and we’re apparently still obsessed.
Sure they’ve had some bad press (memories of scraggly envelopes from desperate relatives lacking in imagination spring to mind), but people are switched on to the concept of ‘experience’ and the gift-giving possibilities this brings.
It’s not just about last-minute, ‘help I forgot our anniversary’ purchases, a gift voucher is the opportunity to give a gift based on experiences and aspiration (also meaning that knowledge of the recipient’s personal taste and preference is somewhat optional).
It also taps into the British gift-giving culture whereby giving cash is seen in many instances as lacking in effort or even vulgar. In fact, over and above monetary vouchers we always advise Gift Voucher Brilliance clients to sell a variety of non-value-specific options and/or packaged products and services. In the case of hotels and restaurants this might be a spa treatment or afternoon tea for two.
Big business. According to the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association, the market is worth around £5bn per year and has been growing steadily over the past few years – 2011 represented £2.2bn sales.
For the hospitality industry, the concept of gift vouchers system has legs. Businesses can tap into the range of services they offer and apply some lateral thinking to how the system can really come into its own beyond its primary purpose. For example, hidden voucher functionality can be used for exclusive promotions with the dual purpose of deadline-driven sales and building customer loyalty.
Online and across devices – the possibilities are endless! Fully size-responsive gift voucher solutions make it quick, easy and flexible for the customer to purchase vouchers and for businesses to manage their redemption. Restaurants benefit from QR code redemption for busy period scan-and-go redemption.
With careful and creative thought at the outset, a good gift voucher shop will serve a business well with relatively little on-going input. By the same token, it can also act as a catalyst for bigger and bolder things.