Gift cards… We all buy them often enough to justify their existence, but I have to admit, it rarely feels like you’ve done a good job: a baby shower in the office, a birthday party of a distant cousin, or when the closest shopping centre closes in ten minutes and you just “have to get something”. Convenient – absolutely, satisfying – not quite.
I doubt I could put it any better than my favourite “freakonomists” Dubner and Levitt:
“For the giver, a gift card could hardly be easier. But most economists would argue that if a gift card is so transparently good for the giver, it is necessarily bad for the recipient: the fact that it can be bought so easily signals to the recipient that the giver didn’t put much effort into the gift.”
In short: something that screams “lazy” will always be perceived as having less value.
However, thinking about it again, I’ve pinpointed where this dissatisfaction lies and, in the process, discovered how gift cards can regain their value again. It’s simple, really – we only “dislike” gift cards where a material replacement can be obtained with minimal effort. Think a Gap gift card, instead of a nice denim jacket.
It’s only logical then that a gift card could actually be beneficial for anything that’s hard to touch. Yes, experiences! Extravagant restaurant meals, weekend spa getaways and once-in-a-lifetime events are very hard to “give”. These types of experiential gifts tend to be booked in the future, so you need to either keep them secret until then, or figure out a way to describe them to the lucky recipient. Therefore, having something tangible to represent an upcoming event becomes extremely valuable.
I’ve seen a fair share of experiential vouchers in recent years, and most companies do a terrible job, which is why I was so blown away by Bulgari. Their London hotel offers a variety of experiences, starting from just £40 (so you don’t have to be a millionaire to benefit). And it doesn’t matter whether you go for an afternoon tea or a full romantic weekend, they make sure your gift looks and feels special, and that’s all you could really ask for (after all, you’ve done all the hard work, researching and choosing that one special experience!).
The experience I’m gifting to my boyfriend for his birthday wouldn’t change with or without a gift card (it’s a one-to-one masterclass with UK’s leading Habano Sommelier Mike Choi). But the difference to me is huge. I won’t need to tell him something like “I’m taking you to one of London’s most spectacular hotels, but I can’t tell you what we are doing until Saturday when we get there”, I’ll simply give him this box and let his imagination run wild 🙂
And while I’m on this topic… Truly Experiences is another company that does experiential gifts really well and makes sure you get a fabulous gift card with every purchase. Check them out!
P.S. As always, opinions are entirely my own and not sponsored.