Six Reasons Promo and Gift Cards Will Be Driving Restaurant Trends in 2022

The restaurant industry has survived nearly two years of the global pandemic, adapting to ensure they provide the best possible experience for new and returning customers. Convenience, digital accessibility, and safety reign supreme. Among all the trends forecasted for hospitality establishments in 2022, restaurant gift cards are one of the most powerful tools in your tool belt. But why? 

We’ve listed six trends you’ll see in restaurants in 2022 and, through them, how you can use gift and promotional cards to see even more success. 

1. Online Ordering: How Gift Cards are an Essential Piece of the Process 

Customers are craving convenience, now more than ever. As the public has gotten used to the prevalence of curbside pickup and delivery, restaurants who do not offer online ordering may find they are struggling more to generate business. Experts say that the trend of ordering food for delivery is here to stay: 49.4 percent of Canadians plan to continue ordering online at least once a week after the pandemic

When customers order for delivery, they spend an average of $32 per order. It’s also been a longstanding fact that gift cards encourage spending. Cardholders feel as though they’re getting a deal or a discount, so they tend to spend more than the amount on their card — up to three times more. Coupled with online ordering, this will garner higher bills, putting more revenue back into your restaurant. 

Therefore, you must make sure your gift cards are redeemable for online ordering. As you review your technology solutions for 2022, ensure your POS systems can handle gift cards among your other payment methods to ensure a smooth, enjoyable purchase experience, whether your customer orders online, dines inside the restaurant, picks up at the door, or pays from their cars.

2. Offer Your Restaurant Gift Cards Digitally

Digital gift cards are rising in popularity. It’s no wonder. Digital gift cards are super convenient, can be purchased anytime, and can easily be emailed to the recipient on the date and time of the gifter’s choice. 

Meet your customers where they are this year: online. Big-box businesses like Starbucks and restaurant groups like the Ultimate Dining Card have used digital gift cards to their advantage, demonstrating their adaptability to play in the digital world. Your restaurant could follow suit, and rise above your competitors.

Ultimately, in 2022, your restaurant gift cards should come in two forms: physical and digital. 

3. Use New Restaurant Layouts and Restrictions to Your Advantage 

Restaurant dining areas have had to change to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. For example, spaced-out seating, directional floor signage to control flow, table dividers, and digital menus. Capitalize on this new normal by strategically thinking about the customer’s journey through your restaurant, and how you can encourage them to make a return visit. 

Make your gift card offering prominent in the space. Purchase a roll-up banner to place by the bathroom entrance that advertises a gift card promotion. While customers wait in line for their pick-up order, maybe they look down and see the floor sticker they’re standing on tells them you offer digital gift cards. 

Your digital menus offer promotional opportunities, as well. Set up a simple pop-up on your website, so that when your visitor scans the QR code to access the menu, they’re served up a notice that you have a gift card promotion going on.

If your visitors don’t know about your restaurant gift cards, how will they purchase them, and how will they inspire their friends and family to visit? 

4. Capitalize on New Patrons Discovering You with Promotional Cards

A trend we’ve seen in the industry is people discovering and trying out more restaurants, to satiate a hunger for variety. This comes from spending more time on phones, social media, delivery apps, and in turn, recommendations from friends and family. Online discoverability plays a stronger role than previous factors — like driving distance, for example — in choosing where to eat. In fact, according to Skip the Dishes, 81 percent of customers have ordered from a restaurant they have never visited in person

This presents an incredible opportunity to make an amazing first impression. Why not surprise visitors with a bonus promo card to use on their next visit, as a thank you for trying you out? 

Setting up promo cards for your restaurant is easy! Did you know that some gift cards can be used as promo cards, and hold an expirable balance? Think of them as coupons, or limited-time discounts. Just like gift cards, these encourage more spending, because customers feel they’re getting a discount. Since the balance can be set to expire, promo cards are a low-risk revenue booster.

5. Use Promotional Gift Cards to Give Back to Your Staff

It’s an unfortunate trend that has been plaguing the industry for the last two years: restaurants are understaffed. Employees experience longer hours and inconsistent income. The pandemic has been particularly hard on restaurants, with up to 1/5 of the hospitality industry having already fallen victim, these staffing struggles are of paramount importance to address. 

Show your employees that you care by leveraging promo cards! Say thank you for their hard work and dedication. Foster a positive working culture, drive intra-staff contests, whatever works best for your restaurant and staff! This tactic will support you in the long-run — it’s easier to retain staff than to rehire. 

6. Generate Loyalty by Turning Existing Gift Cards into Rewards Cards

People love to receive free food and to chase discounts. Even more, they love gamification that pushes them to work towards a reward. Did you know that it’s possible to use gift cards as a loyalty card?

Retain all the new visitors you’ll receive in early 2022 from gift card spending by converting them into rewards members. Customer loyalty is trending, and your restaurant gift cards will help you generate it.

In conclusion, be strategic and creative with your gift and promotional cards, ensure you have a solid presence online, and capitalize on your restaurant’s unique qualities. Don’t sell your restaurant gift cards short in 2022.