Surviving COVID-19: 7 Ways to Increase Gift Card Sales When Dine-In Options aren’t Available

With dine-in options no longer an option for your restaurant guests, it’s time to start increasing your gift card sales to stay afloat. Get customers excited about sharing gift cards with their friends and family, or buying gift cards for themselves to use at a later date. With the right restaurant gift card marketing campaign, you can stave off the revenue losses during COVID-19 pandemic mandates.

1. Show Loyalty to Your Loyalty Members

Everybody wants to win points and get free stuff. Most clients consistently shop at a specific store, eat at one particular eatery, or apply for a charge card to acquire points and be rewarded for their loyalty. Restaurant loyalty programs help businesses to meet their objectives by offering motivating forces to the correct clients. They assist organizations with distinguishing their recurrent clients and urge them to purchase more by giving them coupons, gift vouchers, and different motivating forces.

Right now, it’s time to give back to your loyalty members by reaching out via email and your loyalty app. Let them know you’re offering gift cards, and provide a special discount to loyalty members. We’ve stated in the past that a customer loyalty management program builds the foundation for customer retention, and getting your loyal customers to spread awareness of your restaurant through gift cards is the best place to start.

Get your loyal customers excited about sharing your meals, sending gift cards to friends, and telling the world how great your food is.

2. Spread the Word on Social Media

Whether you’re offering gift cards for the first time or trying to shift sales to gift cards due to the current crisis, you’ve got to find a way to spread the word. Everyone is devouring social media at rapid rates, especially while in quarantine. You don’t have to spend vast amounts on FB or Instagram ads, but use smart content marketing strategies to spread the word about your gift card offers instead.

Create graphics for your FB and Instagram that are eye-catching and spread the awareness of your gift card campaign. Take photos of your staff, still working on fulfilling delivery and curbside orders. Take pictures of plated food, and most importantly, let people know you are still open for business and taking orders, and that you have gift cards available.

Check here for tips on taking great food photos for your restaurant’s Instagram profile.

 3. Create a Bundle Offer for Gift Cards

Sweeten your gift card deals by creating a bundle offer. Check out these types of gift card bundles and implement an offer for your restaurant’s customers today:

  •   BOGO – Buy a gift card, get a gift card of equal value.
  •   Buy a card get a gift – The Cheesecake Factory’s Slice of Joy Promotion offers guests a free slice of cheesecake for every $25 worth of gift cards purchased. They have extended this promotion through to July in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  •   Discount with gift card purchase – You could offer 20% off on future purchases with a gift card purchase of $25 or more like BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse did over the last holiday season.
  •   Dollar amount rewards for large gift card purchases – Check out what Grill on the Alley offers customers, with a $25 promotional gift card sent via email for each $100 spent on gift cards. They are joining the ranks of those pivoting to online, and usually provide fine dining and catering options.
  •   Free meal with gift card purchase – Give your customers a free meal when they send a meal to a friend via gift card.

4. Add signage to your website and curbside pickup area promoting gift card offers

While typically you’d have signage inside your restaurant promoting gift card offers, now it’s time to make gift card offers visible from curbside pickup areas and online ordering portals. Allow guests to add gift cards to their order curbside with a mobile POS portal, and have your servers working curbside orders mention gift card promotions when handing over food.

5. Partner with other local restaurant owners to offer package deal gift cards

If you run a single restaurant, consider partnering with your neighboring restaurants and local community entrepreneurs to sell gift card packages. Look to your local chamber of commerce groups, and reach out to other local business owners such as restaurants, cafes, and catering companies to create coupon booklets or bundle deals for both of your businesses. Look for local businesses that share the same missions and goals as yours and have the same target audience. This doesn’t mean that Mexican restaurants should only partner with other Mexican restaurants but instead means to check their price points and the quality of food they offer before reaching out to work together for a joint gift card campaign.

6. Make buying and using gift cards easier

No one wants to jump through hoops to buy gift cards. Make them an easy add-on to any purchase for your customers. Create a banner ad on your site, allowing users to add a gift card to their cart for pickup or delivery, or let them choose a digital gift card option. Test your digital options internally to ensure they are easy to transfer to another user, so your customers can easily send gifts to friends and family members. At the same time, they are not able to see each other face-to-face.

Remember that most gift card buyers will be making their purchases online, and of those, nearly all will be done via a smartphone. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, meaning it loads quickly on a smartphone.

Just as important as making gift cards easy to buy, is making gift cards easy to use.

 7. Sell virtual gift cards – Let Patrons share a meal virtually

People are craving social interaction, and with dinner parties canceled, sharing a meal with friends via digital means helps us connect. Advertise virtual gift cards for pickup and delivery orders to allow your restaurant patrons to share their love of your restaurant with their family and loved ones.

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