Eleventh-hour Christmas shoppers are driving a boom in hotel gift card sales

Hoteliers using Sabre technology to sell gift cards and experiences have their biggest shopping moment

Image by Sabre

of the year in the hour before midnight on Christmas Eve, according to insights from Sabre Corporation.

The hotel gift card industry is burgeoning; currently worth around $60bn, and growing year-on-year at an average rate of 14%. And, the most popular shopping hour of the year, Sabre has revealed, is from 11pm to Midnight on Christmas Eve as last-minute shoppers snap up experiences rather than physical goods for loved ones. Hotel gift cards are also gaining in popularity among the corporate market, with businesses choosing to select a gift card for team members, stakeholders, and valued customers rather than traditional Christmas hampers.

“Post-pandemic, many of us have re-evaluated what is most important in life, and people across the world are now prioritizing their gift-giving to give experiences and memories rather than physical presents,” said Amy Read, Vice President, Strategy, Sabre Hospitality. “The beauty of providing the gift of an experience is that it can be provided in digital rather than physical form, so gift-givers can give a very thoughtful experience right up to the very last minute before Christmas.

“The busiest time of the year for our hotelier partners when it comes to retailing gift cards and vouchers for experiences,” she added, “is the last hour of Christmas Eve, and there are still a large number of sales that come through on Christmas Day, from people who have forgotten to buy a gift, don’t feel like they have given enough, or are taking advantage of Christmas Day sales.”

Sabre Hospitality is enabling hoteliers to advance their retailing strategy, following the acquisition earlier this year of hospitality e-commerce provider Techsembly, which offers a fully automated e-commerce solution for hotel retailing. Through this integration, Sabre Hospitality is now offering highly advanced and configurable capabilities for the selling and fulfilment of gift cards.

While previously, hotels have focused on creating revenue around a room, this technology is enabling them to enhance revenue opportunities by retailing everything from 3rd party services to physical merchandise and experiences. Adding gift cards to their retailing capabilities enables hoteliers to turn guests into hotel ambassadors who want to give the gift of a hotel experience, while also attracting new guests. It is a highly effective way to create additional revenue, with 72% of guests spending more than the value of the gift card they receive.

“The gift card industry is not only growing, but it is evolving,” added Amy Read. “While previously it was about simply selecting a monetary value to give, it is now about choosing packages and experiences such as dining or spa days to personalize the gift for the recipient. It’s a win-win-win for gift givers who get to give a special experience, for recipients who get to create special memories, and for hotels who can drive significant incremental revenue opportunities that go beyond the room.”

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