4 Benefits of Social Gifting for Restaurants

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In 2015, the gift card market jumped up to $130 billion. Just about every industry profits from these cards, but restaurant gift cards are some of the most purchased. Receiving a gift card increases the likelihood that a first-time patron will occupy an eatery’s cafe tables, but few culinary entrepreneurs have considered social gifting. Social gifting is allowing people to purchase electronic gift cards and send them to others via social media and apps. While this is a relatively new endeavor for restaurants, the practice could have numerous benefits.

1. Saves Money on Gift Cards
Offering gift cards is a great idea for a variety of reasons, but like most things in the food and beverage industry, it costs money. No matter how great a deal a restaurateur gets, they’re still going to have to pay someone to produce the cards.

Luckily, this is completely unnecessary with social gifting. When someone sends a gift via social media, it is typically in the form of a discount code or printable certificate. Either way, the restaurateur is saving money over traditional gift cards while still filling up the bar tables.

2. Compete with National Chains
Many restaurant owners have never heard of social gifting, but the national chains certainly have. Everyone from Subway and Applebee’s to Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s already utilize these “e-gift cards.” If a small restaurant wants people to choose their cafe tables over a national chain’s, it’s areas like this where they need to compete.

3. No One Hates Free Money
The best-case scenario for an eatery is that someone receives a social gift, tries out the establishment for the first time, and enjoys it so much that they occupy the restaurant booths frequently after that. Of course, there are just some people who don’t make use of any gift cards. This, however, doesn’t have to be an entirely negative outcome.

Of the $130 billion in gift cards sold in 2015, around $1 billion of them went unused. And while it’s disappointing for a restaurateur to not have a new patron sitting at their cafe tables, it’s important to remember that the social gift has already been paid for. It’s a stark way to look at things, but $50 in social gifting sales is better than nothing from people who were never going to show up anyway.

4. New Business
While there will always be people who let $1 billion in gift cards go unused, the use of these cards—whether electronic or hard copy—typically brings in business. When looking at the numbers, over 99 percent of gift cards are used, and the success of sites like Groupon has proven that electronic gift cards and certificates are a booming industry. If utilized correctly, social gifting could have every bistro chair in a restaurant packed.

Whether it’s a birthday or national holiday, just about everyone receives a gift. Why not give people the option of sending that gift with the ease provided by social media, the internet and gifting apps? It may take a little research to get the ball rolling, but social gifting in restaurants could soon be huge for filling cafe tables in eateries of all sizes.