Infographic on gift cards

It’s holiday season, the prime time to sell gift cards to your restaurant. Are yours set out in a highly visible display?  

Just-released research from the National Restaurant Association reports: 

  • More than 70% of consumers said they would like to receive a restaurant gift card from someone as a holiday present.
  • 47% said they planned to give one during the holidays this year.
  • 56% of consumers said they’d like to receive a gift card to use at their favorite restaurant.
  • 22% said they’d like to use one at a restaurant they’ve never been to before. 
  • 21% would want a gift card for a restaurant they typically wouldn’t visit.  

Our research also found that 40% of consumers save their gift cards for special occasions while another 40% make use of them within a few weeks; only 20% use them right away. 

Gift cards can bring out the big spender in your guests, too. According to our data, more than a third of diners will order more expensive food and beverages when a gift card is in the mix. In some ways, your restaurant gift card pulls revenue twice, once when it’s sold and again when it’s redeemed and they end up spending more! 

Infographic on gift cards2

“More than 90% of American adults say they enjoy going out to restaurants,” says Hudson Riehle, our Association’s senior vice president of research. “One in two American adults say they frequent restaurants daily. There are ample opportunities for diners to use their gift cards at the more than 1 million restaurant locations around the country.” 

Want to see that stash of gift cards dwindle? Here are 5 tips: 

  1. Display your gift cards prominently at the point of sale, near the impulse-buy or gift area of your store, or at check-out. You can also include a gift-card reminder with the table check.  
  2. Be a best-seller. Don’t wait for customers to notice gift cards on display or ask you about them; mention them at the point of sale or catch guests at check-out. Create gift-card sales contests between servers; reward whichever employee sells the most cards each week. 
  3. Gift cards should ‘pop’ online. Market your restaurant gift cards on the landing page of your website, in your e-newsletters and e-blasts, on social media, in mobile texts, and more. They need to be prominent. Frequent reminders work. 
  4. Sell your gift cards at other retail outlets. See if other local businesses – preferably ones that complement your own – would agree to offer your gift cards for sale at their establishments, and vice versa! This is a good way for both of you to tap into new markets and grow your customer base. 
  5. Think about offering customers a gift for their card purchase. For example, when someone buys a $100 gift card to your restaurant, offer to throw in a second gift card valued at $10 or $25 for free. The buyer can use the second card themselves or use it as another gift. It could help build repeat business. Both Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille, Jacksonville, Fla., succeed with this type of promotion.