Trying to boost Gift Certificate sales for the holidays

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Baygirl

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The season is fast approaching on us and I wondered if anyone had some ideas on how to boost gift certificate sales for the holidays.
December we're usually slow occupancy wise so I was trying come up with ideas to entice people to buy GC's. We get a fair amount of GC sales but I'd like to see it higher.
Came up with..."The more you spend the more you save" Buy $50.00 -$100.00 GC save $5.00 $101.00 -$150.00 save $10.00 $151.00 - $200.00 save $20.00 $201.00 or more save $25.00
Or buy a GC in the month of December and enter to win a free night of lodging in one of our luxury rooms.
Thoughts....ideas.....input......all are welcome!
 

Morticia

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Not full of ideas here, just questions...if you have an off season, how does it work that your rooms are already lower in price and now someone comes along with a GC that was discounted by $25. Are you still making any profit on that room? Or is it more important to have the revenue NOW than later on?
 

Baygirl

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Not full of ideas here, just questions...if you have an off season, how does it work that your rooms are already lower in price and now someone comes along with a GC that was discounted by $25. Are you still making any profit on that room? Or is it more important to have the revenue NOW than later on?.
We don't lower our rates in the winter. We offer last minute specials when we feel the need. As for the $25.00 it's just a discount we're willing to offer to boost sales in our off time.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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I'm biased because I really don't like gift certificates. For every new guest that works out it seems there's another with failed expectations. Not everyone in the family likes the same thing.
That said, if you're going to do a promotion for them, I'd keep it simple and be careful not to give away the store.
If there's a drawing for a free night in a luxury room, that can get to be expensive unless you're planning to sell A LOT of gift certificates.
Maybe just the mention of the availability of gift certificates would be enough, without any added discounts...
 

Baygirl

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I'm biased because I really don't like gift certificates. For every new guest that works out it seems there's another with failed expectations. Not everyone in the family likes the same thing.
That said, if you're going to do a promotion for them, I'd keep it simple and be careful not to give away the store.
If there's a drawing for a free night in a luxury room, that can get to be expensive unless you're planning to sell A LOT of gift certificates.
Maybe just the mention of the availability of gift certificates would be enough, without any added discounts....
I agree about GC's...I don't love them and they seem to get redeemed when you need the $$. But that being said, in December we're living on the sales of GC's and not occupied rooms. I was just thinking of offering a deal because it seems that's what everyone seems to be looking for these days. Now I'm questioning myself if this is the route to go...
 

Innkeeper To Go

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I'm biased because I really don't like gift certificates. For every new guest that works out it seems there's another with failed expectations. Not everyone in the family likes the same thing.
That said, if you're going to do a promotion for them, I'd keep it simple and be careful not to give away the store.
If there's a drawing for a free night in a luxury room, that can get to be expensive unless you're planning to sell A LOT of gift certificates.
Maybe just the mention of the availability of gift certificates would be enough, without any added discounts....
I agree about GC's...I don't love them and they seem to get redeemed when you need the $$. But that being said, in December we're living on the sales of GC's and not occupied rooms. I was just thinking of offering a deal because it seems that's what everyone seems to be looking for these days. Now I'm questioning myself if this is the route to go...
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Personally, I'd try to boost the sales of the rooms you have sitting empty in December.
What kind of specials are you running? My favorite winter special - especially if you keep the same rates in the off-season - is stay 2 nights and your 3rd night is free. Seems to fill those rooms every time.
Especially since, once March rolls around, I don't want to have a bunch of rooms filled with gift certificates I sold in December to keep me going.
If I need to take a hit on revenue, I'd rather just do it now. And I like multiple night stay discounts because the money you save on laundry, turnovers, etc generally makes up for a lot of the difference.
 

Baygirl

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To be honest we enjoy our down time in December without guests, but still generating sales with GC's. Multiple night stays don't work for us in the winter. Our winter business is mostly one night getaways on weekends and some business travelers during the week. It would be rare to get more than a few GC's a month in reservations. There are also GC's that never get redeemed.
 

Country Girl

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Our winter business is usually one night stays as well. Last year we offered a mid-week and weekend (with two night minimum) ski and stay package that was very popular. If you are near a ski area you might want to consider something like that (or shop and stay, dine and stay, etc.)That way you are not losing precious revenue during peak periods.
 

Baygirl

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Our winter business is usually one night stays as well. Last year we offered a mid-week and weekend (with two night minimum) ski and stay package that was very popular. If you are near a ski area you might want to consider something like that (or shop and stay, dine and stay, etc.)That way you are not losing precious revenue during peak periods..
Our closest ski area is 45 mins away.... In the winter we can try to promote cross country skiing or snow shoeing but our issue with that is snow. It's a gamble not knowing if we'll have any or not. When you did your ski and stay package did you buy the lift ticket or what did you offer?
 

Morticia

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How about this...I just got an email from a company I have partnered with in the past. They sent the email out to their list telling them all the things that their GC's could be used for (it's an outdoor co that has a lot of different facets).
You could do that...send it to your former guests and invite them to get a GC for friends and family. We had one of our guests tell their son last year that's what they wanted for Christmas. He called and bought them a GC.
Wish I had thought to do that when I sent my newsletter out this week...
 

Don Draper

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We tried discounting GC's in our first winter and it was a fiasco...YES, the immediate income is good but what a pain when someone with the discounted GC wants to book for a prime summer or fall weekend. You will resent them.
We have discounted our rates in the winter and it works well...we end up getting a lot of one night stays which I really don't mind at that time of year. Is there something you can do that will add value versus actually discounting the GC? Like the people who redeem the GC get a bottle of cider, or some other local product that won't break the bank to provide?
 

JBloggs

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If you are giving away deals, how about making them midweek only?
Another idea is to give them a GC for a $ to use on a diff stay. ie they buy a $150 gc and get a $10 coupon or gift certificate to use later.
Last idea - buyg $200 GC and get free bouquet of flowers upon arrival
 

Morticia

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If you are giving away deals, how about making them midweek only?
Another idea is to give them a GC for a $ to use on a diff stay. ie they buy a $150 gc and get a $10 coupon or gift certificate to use later.
Last idea - buyg $200 GC and get free bouquet of flowers upon arrival.
I like that...a value add and you can make the bouquet as elaborate as you want.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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If you are giving away deals, how about making them midweek only?
Another idea is to give them a GC for a $ to use on a diff stay. ie they buy a $150 gc and get a $10 coupon or gift certificate to use later.
Last idea - buyg $200 GC and get free bouquet of flowers upon arrival.
I like that...a value add and you can make the bouquet as elaborate as you want.
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I like the flowers, too. An inexpensive way to add value and a special touch as well!
 

MTLLodge

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I like the flowers ideal too, but....... if you sell flowers this would cut into your profits? What about offering something that you are not selling? And if it goes over good then maybe you should start selling that! Think added value....packageing
 

JBloggs

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I like the flowers ideal too, but....... if you sell flowers this would cut into your profits? What about offering something that you are not selling? And if it goes over good then maybe you should start selling that! Think added value....packageing.
MTLLodge said:
I like the flowers ideal too, but....... if you sell flowers this would cut into your profits? What about offering something that you are not selling? And if it goes over good then maybe you should start selling that! Think added value....packageing
Do you mean if you sell flowers WITH the gc? Otherwise guests on GC's never buy an add on of flowers.
For me it would be something someone who would buy a B&B gc would think ahhhh that is nice and a good deal. There really, in my experience has not been a whole lot else that people really like. I mean you could add on cheese and cracker tray or something, but it just doesn't have the same oomph. Sparkling cider here is set up really nice with crystal goblets, a silver ice bucket - but it doesn't translate as very nice when you say "sparkling cider" unfortunately.
 

seashanty

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ok. had a call i had to take.
packages. there was a boatline nearby that offered cruises ... sunset cruise, lighthouse cruise, dinner cruise. i bought those cruise tickets myself and packaged them with my gift certificates for a two night stay. i called them seaside getaways or harbor getaways or something like that. if you love the ocean and/or lighthouses, wouldn't you love a gift like that? you have to keep really careful records of these ... guests usually looked to me to make the reservations for the cruise. by the way, i lobbied the boatline like crazy to post the promotion of staying with me and taking the cruise on THEIR website, but it didn't happen. they did give me a free link and sent me major bookings though.
do you send monthly newsletters or mailings to your guests? i kept an email mailing list ... for guests and for those that chose to opt in when they visited my website. and everyone got the gc promotion ... be sure to promote them on your website as well.
last but not least ... buy a $100 gift certificate, save $10 on your next night's stay with us. buy $200 gc, save $20. (limit was $20.) use the discount of your choosing .... then i sent along that '$10 off your next night's stay with us' card along with the gc so that the buyer had it and would call later on down the road. 'maggie, this is soandso. i found this $20 off card for your place. i got it from you when i bought a gift certificate two years ago. is it still good? ABSOLUTELY! what's the redemption number on the card so i can record it? when would you like to come stay with us?' smiles all around
i wish you well.
 

seashanty

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yes! we were closed for the winter ... think no insulation, sub freezing temps, no other businesses open, no restaurants, etc. that meant ZERO room rentals. and i was delighted when gift certficate sales came in.
here are some things i did .... gleaned from other sources.
*most popular* something for you, something for me. a ceramic mug or maine goodie (i offered various things) as our gift to you with the purchase of a gift certificate. the item could be given to the gc recipient or the purchaser could keep it for themselves. i even had more expensive 'free gifts' along with the more expensive gc purchases. i learned it was important to be flexible here. sometimes someone prefered two of the less expensive promotional gifts instead of one of the more expensive items. fine!
*second most popular* oops, i need a gift quick offer the option of purchase and print ... the last minute shopper is encouraged to buy a gift certificate and print it out on their home computer. i sent the document in pdf form with instructions and other pdf's to print - a brochure and a map, with its own certificate number so there would be no duplication.
buy a $100 gift certficate for $95.00 ... some people bought these for themselves. again, fine!
partnering is great ...
more later
 

MTLLodge

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Thats what I'm talking about Seashany. Great ideals! Everyone needs to customized their own packages. Look for things or things to do in your area. Why do they come to the area?
 

JBloggs

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ok. had a call i had to take.
packages. there was a boatline nearby that offered cruises ... sunset cruise, lighthouse cruise, dinner cruise. i bought those cruise tickets myself and packaged them with my gift certificates for a two night stay. i called them seaside getaways or harbor getaways or something like that. if you love the ocean and/or lighthouses, wouldn't you love a gift like that? you have to keep really careful records of these ... guests usually looked to me to make the reservations for the cruise. by the way, i lobbied the boatline like crazy to post the promotion of staying with me and taking the cruise on THEIR website, but it didn't happen. they did give me a free link and sent me major bookings though.
do you send monthly newsletters or mailings to your guests? i kept an email mailing list ... for guests and for those that chose to opt in when they visited my website. and everyone got the gc promotion ... be sure to promote them on your website as well.
last but not least ... buy a $100 gift certificate, save $10 on your next night's stay with us. buy $200 gc, save $20. (limit was $20.) use the discount of your choosing .... then i sent along that '$10 off your next night's stay with us' card along with the gc so that the buyer had it and would call later on down the road. 'maggie, this is soandso. i found this $20 off card for your place. i got it from you when i bought a gift certificate two years ago. is it still good? ABSOLUTELY! what's the redemption number on the card so i can record it? when would you like to come stay with us?' smiles all around
i wish you well..
I wouldn't feel comfortable booking a package with a third party involved in the off season, esp in this economic climate. You would have no idea when or if they would open again. In fact, just one more thing to worry about when the guest decided to redeem the gc package.
Heck I don't really feel that comfortable booking them in season. Idon't like being held responsilble for say the not-very-good massage, or the meal on the boat. Somehow it always comes back to us for recommending, and/or booking the package.
 
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