15 Simple Tips to Help You Sell Vouchers OnlineTipps & Tricks Vanessa Judas
Vouchers and gift certificates are something everyone is familiar with: we’ve all given them as gifts before, and we’ve all purchased them online at least once. And given their ubiquity, it’s only logical for operators in the tours and activities industry to get on board with selling vouchers and gift certificates online. If you’d like to learn how to sell vouchers online to improve attendance of your tours and activities and boost revenue, keep reading.
Online vouchers tend to sell especially well around popular holidays and events such as Christmas, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day — and there are several reasons why this happens from the point of view of the consumer. For one, they make extremely convenient gift options, especially for panicked last-minute buyers. But they are also often linked to attractive exclusive offers which customers simply don’t want to pass up.
For operators, these occasions present an opportunity to boost revenue by selling online vouchers designed to reengage existing customers; to promote new tours, activities or services; to get the word out about a grand opening; or even to raise attendance in the off season.
Voucher sales: the numbers
The results of a recent Statista survey entitled Shopping Behavior: Online Versus Traditional Retail in Germany by Product Group (2016) show how online and mail order sales stack up against retail overall in Germany, and where online sales are outpacing traditional retail with regard to specific product groups.
|I regularly use gift vouchers when shopping online||21%||21%||21%|
|I occasionally use gift vouchers when shopping online||42%||41%||42%|
Source: Statista, February 2016, translated into English
Another survey shows that one out of five consumers regularly use vouchers when making purchases online, with 40% of consumers occasionally doing so.
Selling vouchers online in the tours and activities industry
When asked what products and services they use their online vouchers, gift certificates and voucher codes on, one out of every four consumer respondent reported having used them to buy tickets. Twenty-one percent of consumers say they’ve used online vouchers and gift certificates as gifts for events, for vacations and for traveling, and at least 12 percent report having used them for day trips, cultural events and family excursions. A welcome — and growing! — trend for tour and activity operators.
The rule of thumb when it comes to selling vouchers online
Before we get into the details about how you can get started using this amazing trend to your advantage, we want to give you a quick rule of thumb you can follow to help ensure your vouchers and gift certificates sell well:
Activities – Visuals – Convenience – Visibility
Before you can start selling vouchers online, you naturally need to have great tours and activities to link them to. And this means that the time and effort you put into optimizing voucher sales needs to be appropriately proportional to improving and expanding the tours and activities you offer. In addition to this, you should try to make your vouchers and gift certificates look as nice as possible, since visuals play an important role in whether customers decide to buy them.
Next, you need to make sure your vouchers can be purchased quickly, easily and across all devices — modern consumers expect nothing less, and you shouldn’t either! And last but not least, you should always be working to increase your visibility online so that potential customers can actually find you.
But don’t worry — we’ll show how to do all of this below!
1. Your vouchers need to be where your customers can see them
Sounds pretty logical, right? Your website is the foundation for successfully selling vouchers online. Unlike traditional retail, online vouchers can be purchased around the clock and are processed completely automatically. To ensure that your vouchers are integrated properly, and to help you save time and energy managing them, we highly recommend using a booking system such as bookingkit that offers voucher and gift certificate functionality.
2. Put your vouchers in their own section
Giving your vouchers and gift certificates their very own section on your website is a great way to help customers find them — it’s important, too, to make sure this section is clearly visible and linked to throughout your site. You can use navigation menus for this, as well as banners, graphic teasers or pop-ups. And depending on the time of year, you can promote them right on your homepage. Remember: last-minute shoppers don’t have time to comb through your site trying to find what they’re looking for!
3. Vouchers won’t boost revenue if you don’t have great activities
This is an obvious one, but we think it’s important enough to warrant being mentioned here: Your tours and activities need to have their own appeal if anyone is going to buy your vouchers. There’s no point investing time and energy in sprucing up your vouchers and gift certificates if you’re already short on resources to plan, optimize and run your tours and activities properly. Prioritizing what matters and balancing your resources is key to long-term success.
4. Create special offers specifically for vouchers
Putting together special offers specifically for the purpose of promoting them with vouchers can be a good idea depending on your sector or the time of year. You should think about which of your existing tours and activities work well as gifts or how you can easily add value to them by including relevant items or services. Some examples here might include offering a bouquet of flowers or VIP treatment with each booked cooking course on Valentine’s Day or providing souvenir photos with your boat tours on Mother’s Day.
5. Use vouchers for different events and occasions
Want to attract more potential customers? Want to get existing customers back in the door? Want to promote a completely new tour, activity or event? You can effectively tackle each of these with its own voucher offer. Sure, price is important no matter what the activity is. But with vouchers you can combine lower price points with special services and limited supply to create the optimal package for each scenario. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, so you’re best off playing around to see what works well for you.
6. Sell different types of vouchers and gift certificates
Cutting-edge booking management systems such as bookingkit offer a range of different voucher types which are easy to use. These include gift certificates, which essentially work like cash and can be set to different fixed value amounts, as well as vouchers linked to special offers for new customers or limited-time/supply discounts. For standard vouchers, you simply create tours and activities in bookingkit which are just there for customers to buy the vouchers — without any need to specify dates for each. For more detailed information, visit our Help section or request a free demo.
Extra tip: The bookingkit Cross-Selling module even lets you print high-quality vouchers to be sold over the counter or sent in the mail — click here to learn more.
7. Include information and customer references
Got an offer you think customers will like? Get the word out by providing information at your POS and on your vouchers. Be sure to use clear and concise language when writing your offer descriptions, and don’t forget to include lots of images — especially pictures from past tours and activities. Customer references, too, are highly recommended. Some examples of effective references include pictures and videos with lots of smiling faces and positive ratings on customer review platforms.
8. What looks good sells good
When it comes to selling vouchers, there’s no getting around the need for high-quality design. Our recommendation: spare no expense and hire a professional if you need to. Each voucher should have a design of its own which is optimized to appeal to the target audience and which is appropriately themed for the occasion or activity. The more unique the design, the better. bookingkit comes packed with tons of voucher templates which can be used to create your own custom designs. Plus you can even create designs from scratch.
9. Online payments give you quick revenue streams and other benefits
So you’ve got your vouchers online, they’re looking good and you’ve made it easy for customers to find them — great! Now it’s time to make sure the purchase process is simple and covers as many standard payment methods as possible, especially PayPal and credit card. Sometimes customers (e.g. companies) prefer to be invoiced for their purchases. But don’t worry — you don’t have to find ways to provide and manage each payment method individually yourself. bookingkit does it for you and includes everything you need, complete with easy-to-understand payment processing. Plus, you get some pretty nice extras.
Psst: Every voucher you sell generates revenue whether the customer redeems it or not. And sales tax isn’t due until (or if) they do!
10. Get marketing partners to promote and sell your vouchers
No list of tips for selling vouchers online would be complete without a few words about marketing. Fact is, reach and exposure are essential if you want potential customers to be able to find any of your services, including vouchers and gift certificates. One of the best ways to cast a wide net is to leverage the exposure provided by different marketing platforms and networks, especially around important sales dates such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. One of the best things about bookingkit is that it does most of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to this type of marketing and comes packed with tools that let you synchronize your tours, activities, vouchers and gift certificates with the biggest and most important marketing partners out there. All you have to do is select the platforms you want to use.
The graph below shows use statistics for different types of discount and special deal websites. According to deals.com, 40% of surveyed consumers reported having used voucher websites at least once.
Extra tip: Joining the bookingkit Marketing Network allows you to promote your products and services through other businesses in your area and vice versa. Click here to learn more about bookingkit’s Sell-a-Friend feature.
11. Advertise to regulars
If you already have an active customer base, advertising vouchers and gift certificates with special rates for regulars and return customers is a great way to get satisfied bookers — or their friends and family — back in the door. You can do this by following up on your tours and activities with emails directing existing customers to exclusive deals and discounts or by regularly including information about your vouchers in your newsletters or printing discount codes on participant certificates. This is a simple and effective way to grow your customer base and get the word out about your business.
12. Advertise through external channels
When it comes to promoting special offers and vouchers, there’s a whole slew of online and offline channels — from social media and search engine ads to local media, flyers, postcards and promotion stands at local events — which can help you push exposure and get potential customers interested in your tours and activities. Explore your options and test out different channel combinations to find out what works best for you.
13. Using vouchers as a marketing tool
Although special deal vouchers require you to offer your tours and activities at discounted prices, it’s helpful to think of this as a marketing expense and compare it to the amount of time and advertising money you normally spend per booking. Vouchers are extremely effective and underrated marketing tools.
14. Make it easy for customers to redeem their vouchers
Selling vouchers is great, and it’s always a good thing when there’s more cash available to reinvest in your business. But it’s also important to think about creating a sustainable way to boost revenue and grow your customer base by focusing on follow-up business and customer reviews. Which is why it’s essential to make sure it’s easy for customer to redeem their vouchers when the time comes. And you basically have two options for doing this: You can either manually manage all your vouchers in a spreadsheet, or you can have this automatically done for you with professional booking software like bookingkit. Not exactly a tough decision, is it?
15. Know your business
Similarly to the tip above, your ability to effectively use vouchers to improve your business depends heavily on whether or not you can easily see at a glance how — and where — things are performing. While there’s something to be said for going with your gut feeling, when it comes to running a successful business and deciding how, when and where to promote your tours and activities with vouchers, you’re much better off looking at the numbers to get an overview of your situation: Which vouchers are you currently running? Which ones aren’t valid anymore? Which ones are selling well? Which ones aren’t? And most importantly: Which vouchers have already been redeemed and which ones are still pending? bookingkit helps you stay on top of your vouchers, tours and activities by providing you with a central overview of your business. Stop guessing and start making targeted decisions that bring real improvement!
Extra tip: Use yourself as a weather vane for consumer behavior in your sector and consider the vouchers you yourself have recently purchased, gifted or redeemed as a way to figure out what works. Also look to see what your competition is doing. If you’re a sailing enthusiast and you offer sailing courses, chances are you, your competition and your potential customers all think alike in many ways.
Check our article on how to run special voucher campaigns to boost revenue and grow your customer base here