Gift card programs can be crafted to fulfill strategic goals and tailored to individual recipients. Incentive Marketing Associations’ Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC) offers advice on how meeting planners can best utilize gift cards in their programs. Here are its top tips:
- Play up your locale and themes. Reinforce the uniqueness of your meeting’s locale by using gift card brands with locations in the event market. Even better, use regional retailers that play up the local flair of your setting. If appropriate, consider brands that align with the lifestyle image or theme of your event. For example, you might use gift cards from Nike or Calloway for a charity golf event, said Eric Thiegs, chief revenue officer/partner, NGC | Beyond Gift Cards.
- Know your audience. Think about what appeals to your audience and choose a brand or brands that align. Is it a group of young, tech-savvy individuals? Then think movies, streaming services, or hip restaurants. All females? Consider Sephora, Ulta, or department stores. Unsure? Select a card that allows choice, said Hollis Thornton, spokesperson, Hawk Incentives, and board director, IGCC.
- Think beyond the attendee gift bag. Surprise and delight attendees with gift cards throughout the program. Research shows gift cards are the number one incentive, so use them to incentivize desired behaviors such as engaging in the event app, learning about the event sponsor, or attending sessions, said Thornton.
- Consider security. Since gift cards are loaded with monetary value, the sourcing, storage, and fulfillment of gift cards in an incentive program involves a level of risk. To mitigate the risk, use a reliable third-party provider that offers end-to-end services in procurement, inventory management, and fulfillment, said Jim Atten, senior account manager, Gift Cards, RetailMeNot, and past board chair, IGCC.
- Easy to administer. Consider e-gift cards, which provide event organizers with instant delivery, a digital trail, and no need for physical inventory, making them extremely planner friendly, said Meagan Sarratt, product marketing manager, Tango Card.
- Stretch your budget. Did you know merchants sell their gift cards at a discount when purchased in bulk? The IGCC website can help find gift card providers, from specific brands to aggregators who can help you source multiple brands, Thornton said.
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