How to be Successful with Hotel Gift Cards – 8 Expert Tips 

Hotel receptionist handing over gift card

As partners to hoteliers, we are starting to see the end of the tunnel that has been the recent situation. Now it’s really about maximizing the opportunity in the run-up to the key trading periods of Christmas and the gifting season, which will be upon us very soon.  


In fact, the demand for hotel gift cards this year is high with 77% of consumers in EMEA intending to buy gift cards.  


To help you succeed with gift cards, we’re sharing expert insights from wonderful hoteliers, Juhani Rajala, IT director at Kämp Collection Hotels, and Daniel Gustafsson, Hotel Director of Stora Hotellet in Fjällbacka who have some valuable experience in this domain.  


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1. Invest in a digital gift card solution

Without a streamlined solution in place, mistakes can happen. Not using an integrated gift card system can make it inefficient to manage and track gift card sales


Daniel Gustafsson from Stora Hotellet, says changing to a digital hotel gift card solution has made it much easier for their finance team to keep track of offers and gift card purchases. 


When creating paper gift cards, you have to enter details manually. This leads to the risk of you making a mistake and forgetting to change the code or the year.  


Daniel says “With a software-based gift card, all of this can be done automatically, and the customer can purchase it themselves online. Then you just get an email any time someone buys a product. “ 


Having implemented Hoist Gift Card Manager over a year ago, he says he’s happy with the solution: “This was a really good solution we subscribed to and I’m really happy with it.” 


2. Sell gift cards online and on-site

Offering two distribution methods is vital: 

1) a direct method online 

2) physical gift cards at the hotel 


So, not only is it important to provide guests the possibility to buy gift cards online on your website but in your hotel as well. Providing a physical gift card can help take the guest journey and experience to another level. 


“It’s easy to sell gift cards right now. Even if you sell it over the counter. We just log on to the shop and issue it to the customer directly. It’s also the best way for our financial team to keep track of sales.”  

–  Daniel Gustafsson, Hotel Director at Stora Hotellet 


At Stora Hotelletthey provide the option to buy gift cards at check-in, and through their digital signage solution and on their televisions to promote offers on screens in hotel rooms 


Juhani at Kämp Collection Hotels also vouches for the importance of having physical gift cards available onsite.  


They provide gift cards at check-in in Kämp Collection Hotels and place them in rooms to make it easy for guests to grab them and then pay at the reception. Around Christmas time, they even have Christmas trees, where they place gift cards so guests can just pick one if they want to. 


As human beings, we like to feel something tangible and it’s important that there’s the same look and feel that you get from the hotel brand, whether you’re standing at the lobby, looking at the art at their reception or touching and seeing the actual gift card”

– Juhani Rajala, IT Director at Kämp Collection Hotels 


 3. Actively promote your gift card offers 

Gift cards only sell well if the offer is compelling, and the hotel gets behind promoting them. A comprehensive marketing campaign is needed to promote offers and boost gift card sales.  


Any hotel can promote gift cards by: 

  • having gift cards available on your website 

  • leveraging social media  

  • using your marketing channels to promote offers.  


Daniel from Stora Hotellet says they promote their gift cards on both their hotel website and the Scandinavian Resorts Group website.  


They also use key events like Black Friday to promote their gift card sales “When we had Black Friday last year, we gave customers 20% extra off the value of what they bought, which was also a good sell for us.”  


At Kämp Collection Hotels, they focus on selling experiences and promoting gift cards through packaging luxury products togetherSometimes though they also offer special discounts to help promote sales 


(Image from Kämp Collection Hotels) 


Juhani says “Depending on the seasons and on the packages, we’ll sometimes want to promote our gift cards with good pricing as well. Then, our customers are able to get benefits on price points as well”.


4. Use gift cards to win dissatisfied guests

It’s clear that gift cards are a great way to grow revenue and increase cash flow but they can also work well as a recovery tool.  


By offering a voucher, you have the potential to recover dissatisfied customers and convert them into returning guests.  


Daniel at Stora Hotellet says, “If there’s a problem with the guests who said they’re not happy with our service, I give them a voucher or gift card from the Gift Card Manager”.  


He says it’s a great way not only to apologize for a bad experience but gives the guest the possibility to come back and you the opportunity to change their mind.   


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5. Keep your gift cards in sync with the seasons

Seasonality is the foundation of successful gift card sales. You need to refresh your offers depending on what’s ahead of you – if it’s Easter you obviously shouldn’t have Christmas offers on.  


Not updating your offers can affect the success of gift card sales.  


During the high season at Stora Hotellet, Daniel says they had forgotten to change their packages, which impacted their gift card sales.  


“We forgot about it for a few weeks, like three months actually during a high season last summer and that was not good.”  


He highlights that it’s important for hotels to keep their offers up to date, so that guests can see you’re current and that you’re actively updating your offers. 


Quote on Hoist Gift Card Manager, Hotel Director Daniel Gustafsson


6. Start with open vouchers, then build packages

The best place to start with gift cards is with open vouchers. Both hoteliers, Juhani and Daniel said they first started by offering guests open value vouchers.  


At Stora Hotellet, it is one of their most popular gift card options. Daniel says “We see a lot of people have been buying, when they can choose how much money they want to put on the gift card, that’s the most popular right now” 


It’s important to also understand your hotel’s brand before creating gift card packages.  


He suggests trying a few different things, following up with what’s actually selling, then taking away products that don’t sell and try something else. You have to learn what is actually driving sales.   


“Start with the open gift card. That’s always the easiest. But then add something some package or product that you might not otherwise be able to offer.” 

 – Juhani Rajala, IT Director at Kämp Collection Hotels 


But not everything that you sell should be available as gift cards. Too many options will distract customers to the point they abandon the purchase, says Juhani. “Start small, then scale it up. Learn and change.”


Quote graphic on growing gift card sales, Juhani rajala, IT Director


7. Create experiences for the end customers

Gift cards are made to delight, and often given by customers to loved ones.  


At Kämp Collection Hotels, Juhani says it’s about selling experiences, not just rooms. Being a luxury hotel, they want to offer exclusivity, so that customers feel like they are getting something more than just booking a room.  


Moreover, he says it’s important to focus on the end customer. “We try to make sure that the end customer who is actually receiving the gift card is happy. Then we are happy as well”. 


This is a great approach to have and something other hoteliers can learn from.  


Find out how you can digitally transform your hotel >> 


8. Have a clear plan

Lastly, putting a plan in place for your gift card sales is incremental to satisfied customers and revenue growth.  


At Stora Hotellet, Daniel suggests that the best way is to start small. “Start small, get used to it, and build it up from there.”  


Juhani highlights the importance of taking a strategic approach to gift cards. Gift card solutions are much simpler in terms of technologies, systems and processes. It’s much easier than trying to build add-ons and packages that you want to sell.  


“There’s a lot of other ways you can earn revenue, but I think gift cards are one of the easiest ways to do that. But you need to have a thorough plan and clear vision and strategy on how you want to do that.”  

– Juhani Rajala, IT Director at Kämp Collection Hotels 


Want to know how much revenue gift cards could bring to your hotel?

We’ve made it incredibly easy to see the value of gift cards for your hotel. Estimate your gift card ROI now! 

Gift Card Revenue Calculator


  About the author

Simon I’Anson is Chief Strategy Officer with Hoist Group, whose main focus is finding Hoist Group’s myriad of advanced technology solutions their rightful home in some of the world’s greatest hotels.  With over 15 years of experience in the hospitality technology space, he is sharing his valuable insights through these posts. Outside of work he is a big fan of many sports, including Rugby and Tennis, enjoys spending time with his family, and likes the type of music that should be turned up to ‘11’. You can find more about him here - LinkedIn