Monday, 7 February 2011

Gift Voucher Experience Revolution

Vintage Hair Lounge Gift Voucher designed by the Good Show Studio
Friends of Bettie have had a few outings with Gift Vouchers recently. Our in house designed gold foil embossed cards, designed by Cassie Leedham at the GoodShow Studio continue to be a good seller, and convey the quality of the service the voucher entitles. We've also been trying out various specialist online voucher outlets each having it's own distinctive twist or business model for meeting the ever increasing demand of the gift voucher market.

It was way back in 1932 that the first gift token was launched : The Book Token, which remained popular for decades. I can remember many birthdays and Christmases as a child of the 1970s receiving book tokens from distant aunties and uncles that sensibly took the view that I, rather than they, knew best what I was in to, and left it to me to make the gift decision. A few school prizes along the way were also presented in envelopes, the trusty book token again reinforcing that reading was good for kids and whilst giving choice, the prize was never extended to frivolities like sherbet dips, comics and Pippa dolls which I would probably have spent the money on if I'd discovered crisp One Pound notes in the envelopes. The bookshop in Cross Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight must have done some fabulous business out of kids in those days!

The gift token market has exploded since then, with major high street stores introducing their own versions in the 1980s, along with Luncheon Vouchers which for some strange reason became synonymous with the yuppie generation of intense socialising as the way to do business.

As small businesses caught on to the demand, and the internet has made almost every business, whatever the sector, deeply competitive, consumers and clients have an infinite amount of choice as to where to spend their money. There was a time when gift vouchers were seen as the lazy or dull gift option, but there's nothing more disheartening than unwrapping a present that you don't want or don't like, and so gift vouchers now have the ability to value the intended recipient as if to say, I wanted to treat you to something special, but I want you to have the ultimate say on what that is!

Then come the Gift Voucher Experiences, which more obviously puts the choice back in the giver's hands. They offer a wonderful opportunity to buy someone a special experience that they might not otherwise have bought for themselves, whether it be scuba diving, a trip on the Orient Express, a spa day, or as we do at Vintage Hair Lounge, a traditional wet shave with hot towels or a vintage set and hairstyling. The experience market shows how far the industry has developed, and with voucher sales now in the billions nation-wide, they are here to stay.

We have Valentine's Day and Mother's Day coming soon which are ideal times to present gift voucher experiences, but any day of the year they move the focus from "things" to "happy times" and  there's nothing more special than that.

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