Using Yiftee to Boost Visitor Revenue

Using Yiftee to Boost Visitor Revenue

Mar 21, 2023 • 4 min

Odds are, you’ve been marketing your community card program pretty much exclusively to residents. After all, it’s just common sense that the people who live there (the people who can go out and shop or dine at your local businesses whenever they want) are going to get the most value from these gift cards.

But what about visitors (especially out-of-town, overnight visitors)? Is it realistic for Yiftee cards to bring in more guests to your hotels, and to encourage them to spend more while they’re in town? 

Last month, we launched a program for the City of Pacifica that uses Yiftee cards as part of a collaborative promotional campaign with the city’s hotels.

Here’s how it works (in 3 steps)

Step 1. You deposit promotional funds into separate Yiftee accounts, one for each participating hotel. These funds can either be provided entirely by you, or through a shared co-op/matching agreement with the hotels (since hotels and local businesses both stand to benefit from this promotion).

Step 2. Your hotels use these funds to offer free gift cards to guests as a reward for things like:

  • Staying more nights
  • Staying in the off-season
  • Staying mid-week

Step 3. Your community generates new incremental revenue in four different ways:

  • Short-term TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) as hotels see increased occupancy rates
  • Short-term sales tax as visitors have funds that MUST be spent locally, during their visit
  • Long-term TOT as visitors who don’t spend their gift cards are more likely to return, with the funds burning a hole in their pockets
  • Long-term sales tax as visitors with gift cards are more likely to try new places to shop, dine, and play – discovering new favorite spots that will bring them back again and again (and tell their friends and family about, back home)! 

4 Things to Consider

1. Security vs. Convenience 

How do you safeguard against the risk that hotels or their employees will misuse or exploit this promotion by giving away gift cards to friends, family, or themselves (security)? On the flip side, how do you make it simple enough that hotel employees can give guests their free cards without creating friction during check in (convenience)?

Every destination will find a different way to balance these two considerations, but here are some general recommendations:

First, cards should be given out at the time of check in, not at the time a reservation is made. This makes it so people can’t game the system by making a reservation, getting their free card, and then immediately canceling their reservation.

Next, the use of a shared account between you and each individual hotel gives you visibility into who is receiving the cards. This can be checked against qualifying invoices/receipts provided by the hotels.

Lastly, don’t deposit all of the promotional funds into a hotel’s account at the start of the campaign. Instead, hotels should have the ability to regularly “re-load” their promotional funds by providing you with the receipts/invoices for the guests who received the gift cards.

2. Privacy for Hotel Guests

This is a simple but important rule to remember: in order to participate in the promotion, hotels will be providing you with some of their customers’ PII (Personal Identifiable Information). It is vital that this information be kept private, and not used by you for purposes of marketing to them.

Here’s an example: let’s say “Sarah” is a guest at a hotel. The hotel gives her a free community card (which you can confirm in the shared Yiftee account), and then provides you with a copy of Sarah’s receipt. You CANNOT use, sell, or share Sarah’s name, email, or phone number, or contact her at any time with any marketing promotions.

The one exception is if you receive Sarah’s same contact information through some other means, such as if she subscribes to your newsletter. 

3. Return on Investment

How do you justify the expense of investing in a promotion like this?

As an example, let’s say that the hotels for your destination are investing 50% of the promotional funds, and the other 50% comes from you. Let’s also say that visitors get a $50 gift card as an incentive for staying 2+nights, Mon-Thursday.

For hotels, this comes out to a $25 investment for a $50 customer incentive, which generates at least 2x the revenue for the hotel. If the hotel room is $200/night (remember: room rates are increasing dramatically in 2023), this means for $25, the hotel generates at least $400 in new revenue – a 6% cost.

For the rest of the community, an investment of $25 for $50 worth of local purchases is basically the same as running a BOGO campaign for your community cards, but with the added benefit of contributing TOT (hotel) revenue to city funds.

4. Marketing the Promotion

Communication with the hotels in your community is key for this concept to work. Hotels often have their own individual or cooperative marketing resources and channels that can greatly expand the reach of your promotion at no additional cost to you. Possibly the best investment you can make is producing terrific marketing materials for the campaign, and then sharing them with the hotels for distribution.

This doesn’t just include things like social media graphics and written copy for email blasts, it also means helpful materials hotels can share with their front desk staff – things like a simple one page flier that explains how to tell guests about the promotion to upsell a one-night stay into a multi-night stay, for example.

It’s important to remember that your usual, local marketing channels will be less effective here. Your priority should be promoting the campaign in feeder markets (the places where visitors come from to stay in your hotels), which may mean reaching out to media outlets or advertising in areas you are unfamiliar with.



About Creative Digital Agency

Business Impact for Destinations

CDA Creative Digital Agency is a full-service marketing agency that provides affordable and effective services to support economic development by boosting sales tax & TOT revenues for DMOs, TBIDs, CVBs, and local Chambers of Commerce.

We don’t waste your time with fluffy marketing that doesn’t move the needle. That’s why the Mobile Marketing Association ranked us as a top agency on their Global Business Impact Index.

Our Work

Experts in Digital Incentives

Our leadership has more than two decades of expertise successfully launching local and national digital incentives programs for clients including Korean Air, Ace Hardware, Chiquita, Merck Animal Health, and Pepsi.

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