Vouchers and gift cards: Where next?

Kevin Harrington, research and development director at Sodexo Pass – the company behind SayShopping vouchers and SayMotivation Pass – looks to the future of vouchers and gift cards

It’s incredible to think where we’ve come from. Seventy years ago the first voucher appeared on the high street in the form of a book token. Who could have predicted how the voucher and card industry would change and develop, becoming a currency for both everyday and business life, and who amongst us can predict what the future will look like for these ever-changing incentives?

Even in the past couple of years we’ve seen rapid development; the introduction of gift card centres, shops and stores; the beginning of e-vouchers and mobile phone technology, plus we’ve seen non-retailers (restaurants, experience companies) for the first time, emerge strongly into the marketplace alongside the traditional high-street retail vouchers and gift cards. Where to next – will paper totally disappear? Will new technology take over when traditional products have lost their way?

So, where is the market going? And, what will it look like in five or even 10 years time? Unfortunately none of us know all the answers to these questions and we can only begin to speculate. What I do know is that it is essential that the recipients of vouchers, e-vouchers, gift cards etc – whether they be consumers, customers or employees – get a product that they want, a product that excites, motivates and inspires them and one that is easy-to-use and flexible.

As voucher and card suppliers we need to keep this front of mind in everything we do. Ultimately, our aim is to keep the excitement and enjoyment alive and make the voucher and gift card industry buoyant for another 70 years – in whatever format that may be.

By Kevin Harrington, Sodexo Pass

Originally printed in Sales Promotion magazine September 2008 issue