With the coming of the holiday season, there’s no doubt that restaurant gift card management becomes increasingly important, both as a huge opportunity and a potential problem.

Gift cards are a tremendous marketing tool for restaurants at all times of the year; providing a highly cost-effective means of brand building, attracting new customers and developing customer loyalty programs. But their effectiveness is of course enormously enhanced during the holiday season, when their popularity as gifts can release a flood of additional cash flow for participating restaurants.

Indeed, with the value of the gift card industry hitting $160 billion in 2018, and with restaurant cards featuring consistently amongst the most popular holiday gifts, it’s an opportunity which no restaurant can afford to miss. 

The Challenge of Restaurant Gift Card Management

Restaurant POS system

However, all this extra business at what is already the busiest time of year can present significant challenges for management.

While you clearly want to be promoting your gift cards as much as possible, you also need to ensure that you have the right systems in place to administer your program as efficiently as possible, without slowing down your table service.

For this purpose, the use of a modern restaurant POS system such as CBS NorthStar will prove invaluable.

How to Promote Restaurant Gift Cards for the Holidays

If you have a budget for traditional paid advertising, through local radio or press, this can still be a highly effective way of attracting custom. The problem is that high demand may lead to these media becoming very expensive in the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Campaigns through your social media platforms may be a good alternative, but traditional promotional methods, such as table and lobby displays, still work well, provided you have them in place well in advance of the season. You can also, of course, produce seasonally themed gift and greeting cards or presentation boxes to add to the appeal of your promotions.

Finally, be aware that modern systems such as the CBS POSitouch make it very simple to sell and activate both physical and digital gift cards, so all staff should be encouraged to promote them directly to customers at the table, bar, lobby and checkout.

Managing Gift Cards With Restaurant Technology

There was a time when many restaurant owners and customers must have wondered whether their gift card schemes were really worth the trouble.

Hard-pressed waiting staff would have to take cards from the table to the till for processing, leaving customers waiting for their change (if any). There was no easy way to keep customers advised of their remaining balance and tipping could also be problematic. Payment processing could get even more complicated and time-consuming if larger groups wanted to split their check between several cards.

Naturally, this was the last thing staff, customers or management needed at any time, let alone during the holiday season’s busiest sessions of the year, when maximizing table turns is even more important than usual.

Fortunately, modern restaurant POS systems have completely transformed the operation of gift card schemes.

The CBS Northstar Solution

With CBS POSitouch, for example, you can set up your program to use traditional physical cards, digital cards or both. Payments can be accepted at the table and all transactions and customer balances are tracked and adjusted in real-time.

Customers can check and top up their balances whenever and wherever they like; and it’s easy for management and staff to use the system to give credits, loyalty bonuses and to create seasonal or other promotions.

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CBS NorthStar has now been a market leader in the field of restaurant and retail POS systems for 25 years and we’re constantly setting new industry standards with our evolving technology solutions. Book a free demo today.