Appreciate scoop top prize for channel programme excellence at Incentive Awards

Appreciate Business Services picked up Best Channel Partner Programme at the 2021 Incentive Awards for its work on Brakes’ Help for Hospitality campaign

Appreciate Business Services have been crowned winner of the Best Channel Partner Programme at the 2021 Incentive Awards for their work on Brakes’ Help for Hospitality campaign.

The annual event, held this week at One Moorgate Place, London, recognises excellence in the reward, incentive, and loyalty industry.

Appreciate were celebrated alongside client Brakes, the noted food and drink supplier, for their exceptional work on Brakes’ Help for Hospitality campaign.

The programme generated a major boost to sales and customer engagement for Brakes after the disruption and challenging impact to the hospitality industry of 2020/21’s national restrictions.

By offering Brakes customers a blend of discounts, cashback, charitable opportunities and Love2shop rewards, the programme enabled a return to confidence in what is a vital sector of the UK economy.

Appreciate’s Engagement Services division provided technical, creative, and software support for the campaign. This involved building three separate but interdependent microsites for the promotion, and providing the software to deliver cashback and rewards to Brakes customers.

The promotion, which ran from April to August 2021, delivered exceptional growth for Brakes with 7.5% of sales coming from new categories and products.

Additionally, 20% of Brakes customers engaged in the Help for Hospitality scheme generated more than 60% of Brakes’ sales revenue during the promoted period.

Frank Creighton, Director of Business Development at Appreciate, said: “I’d like to congratulate the Appreciate Engagement Services division for a well-deserved win and for being recognised for their outstanding work on this campaign. The Help for Hospitality programme was a phenomenal incentive and we’re extremely proud of the work we did to deliver its success.”

Adam Heywood, Head of Commercial Marketing at Brakes, added: “The Appreciate team did a phenomenal job with the Help for Hospitality campaign and we’re incredibly proud to see that valuable work recognised by the Incentive Awards. I’d like to congratulate both our team here at Brakes and thank Appreciate for all their support.”

Appreciate shortlisted for Best Channel Programme at the Incentive Awards 2021

Success of Help for Hospitality promotion earns Appreciate and Brakes a shortlist spot for Best Channel Programme at the 2021 Incentive Awards

In recognition for the exceptional development, deployment, and results of Brakes’ Help for Hospitality campaign, the Incentive Awards 2021 have put Appreciate and hospitality supplier Brakes on the shortlist for Best Channel Programme 2021.

About Help for Hospitality

Help for Hospitality was a channel programme, delivered through Appreciate’s Engagement Platform, that helped the hospitality industry recover after the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their industry.

The impact of the pandemic across 2020 and 2021 turned the easing of national restrictions in 2021 into a make-or-break period for the hospitality world. Brakes saw it as vital to inject confidence into the sector and give affected businesses a sense of security.

Help for Hospitality provided that confidence by offering Brakes customers a selection of benefits for placing their orders during June, July, and August 2021.

Alongside charitable donations and Love2shop rewards, the campaign also offered cash back and product discounts that gave hospitality businesses the confidence to get back to trading as normal.

These benefits were offered alongside discounts on more than 3,000 items in the Brakes catalogue, giving Brakes customers even more confidence and incentive to make their purchases.

Help for Hospitality results

Developed and deployed in just eight weeks through Appreciate’s Engagement Platform, Help for Hospitality was a huge success for Brakes. The campaign was well received by hospitality businesses, and delivered excellent figures revenue for Brakes.

Speaking about the results of the programme, Brakes Commercial Marketing Director Adam Haywood said: “Help for Hospitality has been phenomenal, and went down a storm with our customers.

“During a dangerous, volatile period of trading it was important we were there to support our customers and safeguard our industry’s future. We were more than happy to trade some of our margin up front to achieve that.”

“While our main priority is to help the hospitality sector recover with strength, our channel programme with Appreciate has also been a financial success for Brakes, returning excellent figures over our investment.”

Frank Creighton, Managing Director of Appreciate Business Services, said: “Help for Hospitality was a special campaign for a few reasons. Helping a valued client put together such an ambitious and effective campaign with a short turnaround was a sensational achievement from our talented Engagement Services division.

“The Appreciate Engagement Platform was also able to flex its muscles, too – few other systems could be relied on to deliver a campaign of this scale and ambition with such a short design and implementation period.

“It was also a privilege to be part of a campaign that helped a crucial segment of the UK economy back on their feet after the huge disruption of the pandemic.“

The Incentive Awards will be held at One Moorgate Place, London on 24th November 2021. Representative from both Brakes and Appreciate will be in attendance for the event.

13,000 consumers can’t be wrong – We asked the public what kind of loyalty and sign-up gifts they want, and they want gift cards

We recently polled more than 13,000 people in the UK on their ideal rewards for brand loyalty, or moving to a new supplier. The results confirmed what many Appreciate customers have been saying for years – people really do love choice, and they love gift cards.

We ran two polls, across a few months, asking people to pick their ideal loyalty prize, and their ideal sign-up gift, from a selection of popular rewards.*

Both of our polls showed a big preference for gift cards and discounts. But even with discounts on the menu, gift cards comfortably pulled ahead of other rewards in both surveys.

The results are below:

The ideal loyalty reward

Question: If a company offered you a gift for being a loyal customer, which gift would you prefer?

Results:

A discount on your next purchase 13.1%
A gift card for a retailer of your choice 76.6%
VIP experiences 4.7%
An upgraded membership 1.3%
Merchandise 4.3%

10,781 total answers

The ideal new customer reward

Question: Which of the follow is most likely to motivate you to switch to a new supplier of broadband, banking, utilities, or insurance?

Results:

A discount off your next bill 24.9%
A gift card for a retailer of your choice 48.8%
A dining out voucher 7.2%
A free takeaway 6.6%
A chance to win a holiday 8.9%
Attraction tickets 3.6%

3,264 total answers

What it could mean for you

The results vary between acquiring and keeping customers, but a gift card that gives someone a choice of retailer has come out clear winner on both polls. Even when options like discounts, holidays, and meals are on the agenda.

We can only make inferences on what that means for the public at large, but as we’ve pointed out before, the choice of retailer is a big part of the lure of the gift card. People like to be empowered to make their own choices, which may also explain why discounts did well. Ultimately that’s a bit of extra cash that consumers can choose how to spend.

Huge sums of time and money are invested every year on discounts, VIP experiences, or free takeaways. It’s possible that, while those rewards are being gratefully received by the public, customers would prefer to make their own choice with a gift card.

Far be it from us to tell you about your own customers, but the data speaks for itself, and speaks in plain terms. It’s plausible that you could be simplifying your rewards, saving money on them, and getting better results, by switching to gift cards or e-gift cards.

At the very least, there’s a strong case for re-examining what your company is offering for loyalty and acquisition if it’s not gift cards.

What’s next?

We’re still talking to the public every day on what they want most. Right now we’re asking about what they’d like as a reward from their company at Christmas. And so far, the Christmas party is out and a choice-driven gift card is in. We’ll have more updates on that soon, but for now, we’re here if you want to ask any questions. Feel free to get in touch if you want to talk about finding, and keeping, more customers for your business.

*These polls were conducted on more than 13,000 recipients of a Love2shop e-Gift Card over a seven-week period in 2021. If you’d like any more details on the polls, or even to talk about suggesting a question, get in touch. We’d be happy to talk.

NEWS: UK consumers overwhelmingly prefer gift cards as a loyalty prize

In a landslide win, UK consumers are six times more likely to want a gift card than a discount as a reward for customer loyalty.

In a survey of 10,000 people, 76% of respondents said their preferred gift for staying loyal to a company would be a gift card.

Gift cards left other gifts, like discounts or VIP experiences, in the dust in a poll run by reward and incentive supplier Appreciate Business Services.

The survey results

Question: If a company offered you a gift for being a loyal customer, which would you prefer?

Answer Total answers Percentage of answers
A discount on your next purchase 1,413 13.1
A gift card (your choice of retailer) 8,254 76.6
A VIP experience 509 4.7
Upgraded membership 144 1.3
Merchandise 461 4.3

The respondents’ answers show just how much UK consumers treasure gift cards over other loyalty reward options. And when the answers are so overwhelmingly clear for one product, businesses that reward loyalty can start to wonder what they mean for their own customer retention campaigns.

Huge sums are spent every year offering customers discounts and VIP experiences to secure their loyalty. This data, from more than 10,000 UK consumers, may form the basis for re-evaluation of whether businesses could enjoy better customer loyalty, and happier customers, with a more popular gift.

While the figures show that consumers are clearly interested in gift cards, Frank Creighton, Director of Business Development at Appreciate Business Services, believes there’s more to it: “It would be tempting to focus just on the gift card being such a popular loyalty reward, but we should also be sure to note the poll was offering users the chance to pick their own retailer.

“It’s not just getting the gift card that’s so attractive, but that the customer can choose where their gift card is spent. With that choice available, a customer can always enjoy a loyalty reward that resonates with them as an individual. That choice is exactly what we’ve built our Love2shop Gift Cards and e-Gift Cards on.”

Using data to plan acquisition campaigns in 2021

We recently asked 2,020 people around the UK about what they’re most interested in spending money on as national restrictions are eased.

You can read more details about the research and our findings in our article here, but one main point was clear. The people of the UK want to spend their money on experiences, not things, as we ease out of restrictions. That means restaurants, leisure, travel, and seeing their friends.

By comparison, the public are significantly less likely to want to go out and buy laptops, phones, tablets, cars, and other items.

What that means for customer acquisition

There’s a stark divide between sectors, with travel, hospitality and leisure being in very high demand, and almost everything else falling away.

How you make the most of finding new customers over the next few months depends on which camp you’re in – in the sun, and in the shade.

In the shade

When the public are excited to put their money into other industries, you still have a play available to you – tie yourself into that demand.

We can’t argue with what the public wants any more than we can argue with the tide coming in and out. But we can find a way to give people what they want.

Your promotions, your incentives, and your acquisition rewards need to align with a clear statement of demand from the public.

For instance, interest in buying new cars is very low, with only 2% of women and 4% of men excited to buy a new car. But when enthusiasm for experiences is so high, you can ignite interest in test drives if you’re offering leisure, dining, or travel as a test drive reward.

In the sun

For companies with a business in demand, it’s more about making sure that you get the most out of a busy period. If the public are going out to eat, you want them to eat in your restaurants.

We wrote more about how you can make the most of the busy period and find new customers here. But, to summarise our main points:

  • Be shareable: The public are looking for experiences, so offer them experiences that they want to share with their social group.
  • Promote yourself: Stand out from the crowd with promotions and deals that excite and attract customers.
  • Collaborate: Where you can, collaborate with other businesses serving similar demographics to create better experiences for your combined customer base.
  • Manage your reputation: Reputation directly affects new customer acquisition, and means managing your presence on reviews sites like Trustpilot.

What you can also do is start thinking loyalty. At some point, the novelty will wear off and the public’s attentions will turn back to the parts of life that aren’t travel, experiences, or hospitality. Other demands will take precedence in their lives.

The trick will be to take the customers who came to you while leaving lockdown and turn them into enthused, loyal customers in the future.

Over to you

Eventually, the frenzy will subside. But we’re in a challenging period with every business looking for their best footing for their recovery.

Achieving that footing means understanding and aligning approach to acquisition with what the public are most interested in.

If you want some help, or just want to ask us a question, you’re always welcome to get in touch. Use the live chat or call us during working hours, or shoot us an email any time.

News: People in the UK are itching to spend their money on making up for lost time

According to research from Appreciate Business Services, people in the UK are most looking forward to spending their money on experiences, not things, as we ease out of lockdown.

Appreciate, with the help of polling agency YouGov, asked 2,020 people around the UK what they were looking forward to spending their money on as we ease out of lockdown. They overwhelmingly said that they’re excited about leisure, travel, and spending time with their family.

Travel in particular was a focal point, with a combined 49% of respondents saying they’re looking forward to travel in the UK, and 40% saying they’re looking forward to travel abroad.

Other popular activities include cinemas, visiting friends, and meals in restaurants. All activities we’ve missed out on over the last 12 months.

The top five activities the UK is most looking forward to spending money on as lockdown eases:

  1. Going on holiday (either in the UK or abroad) – 89%
  2. Having a meal inside a restaurant – 64%
  3. Travelling to see friends and family – 55%
  4. Visiting cinemas, spas, leisure centres, etc. – 44%
  5. Buying clothes in a shop – 34%

Written answers from the survey showed a similar pattern, with social activities being the most popular responses. The most frequent responses Appreciate received involved meeting friends, going to the pub, being able to be spontaneous again and, crucially, spending more time with their family.

In contrast, the public said that they’re least excited about going out to buy new tech and new cars in-person. Just 2% of women, and 6% of men, said they were looking forward to going out and shopping for a new car.

When it comes to technology, young people are slightly more enthusiastic about buying items like phones, laptops, televisions and tablets, with 13% of 18-24 year-olds saying they were looking forward to tech shopping.

However, even the youngest consumers’ enthusiasm for leisure, travel, and social activities dwarfs their interest in buying new tech. Across the board, across gender and age, what everyone’s looking forward to spending money on most is what they feel like they’ve missed out on over the last year.

While the results might be startling for the retail tech and auto dealer industries, other sectors will be delighted by the feedback. Restaurants, travel, and hospitality were popular across all age groups, and in-store clothes retail is in high-demand with women and younger respondents.

Going back to restaurants in particular is universally popular, with more than 60% of respondents, across every age group, saying they were looking forward to the return of indoor dining.

Reacting to the results, Director of Business at Appreciate Business Services, Frank Creighton, said, “The data from our survey clearly reflects what our clients and customers say – the UK is desperate to get back to what they’ve missed. The most interesting question for us is how we use the data to help our clients with customer acquisition and customer loyalty.

“When only 4% of the UK is excited to buy a new car in-person, we need to help auto dealers motivate people to go out and take test drives. And, when 64% of the UK are thrilled to eat and drink indoors again, we need to make sure it’s our clients in hospitality that reap the rewards of that with great acquisition and loyalty plans.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2020 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st – 22nd April 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

How we turn 1-star Trustpilot reviews into 5-star reviews

Trustpilot, or the review site you rely on, is now an essential part of your company’s reputation management. And the stats say you don’t have the luxury of disagreeing:

  • 93% of customers check review sites before they buy from a company[1]
  • 91% of consumers trust review sites as much as they trust word of mouth[2]
  • Consumers read an average of 10 reviews before they trust a business[3]

Having a review site isn’t enough, though. It has to be manned, managed, and curated. Like any other digital outlet, consumers expect that you’ll be there for them when they talk to you, and what they see (or don’t see) on your Trustpilot page is a reflection of your business.

It’s is a chance for you to demonstrate a proactive, empathetic approach to customer service, giving your customers faith in your business before they even talk to you.

That includes knowing what to do when a 1-star review comes down the pipe. And no matter how good you are, the bad review will come.

In this article we’ll outline how to turn a 1-star review into a 5-star review, and how to make the most of the good reviews as well.

We wrote this article about Trustpilot, but the advice here is still relevant whether you’re using Google Reviews, Feefo, Birdeye and more.

How we turn 1-star reviews into 5-star reviews

Because we treat our Trustpilot page as a loyalty and acquisition tool, we have an internal process for dealing with all reviews that come in, including bad ones. Actually, especially the bad ones.

We start by making sure the user is in the right place.

Is the review legit?

The first thing we do with a bad review is assess whether the complaint is legitimate. This sounds simple, but it’s important – is the reviewer actually talking about your business?

For instance, you might manufacture tyres. And you may get a Trustpilot review talking about the quality of service they received in an independent fitter selling your tyres.

While their complaint is legitimate, the complaint’s place on your page isn’t. On Trustpilot, you may apply to have the negative review removed on the grounds that it’s not about your company. It might seem harsh, but we’re talking about your company’s reputation.

If it’s a legitimate review, you can move to the next step of the plan.

Dealing with a legitimate bad review

First, check if the user has left their name, or their business’ name.

If they have, connect the name to information in your database, or customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce. If you don’t have a CRM system in place, you can go to your sales or account management team and ask about the customer.

Find more information on the complaint, bug, or delivery issue the customer is experiencing. Armed with this information, you can make an attempt to resolve the issue.

While you’re doing this, be sure to leave a sympathetic reply offering the unhappy customer a chance to get in touch and resolve the issue. Whether they initiate contact in reply, or you get in touch later, it’s important to be seen to engage with bad reviews. We’ll explain more about that later.

You know better than we do on how to talk to individual clients, but in our experience a negative review is often an act of frustration. And it often comes from a sense of not being heard. Opening dialogue is the first step to alleviating that frustration and finding a happy outcome.

With your internal team, and your client, you can find out what the issue is and implement a solution.

Approach the reviewer

Once the issue is resolved, and the customer is happy again, you can talk about their review. Ask the client if they’re otherwise happy with your service, and if they are, ask if they would consider changing (or removing) their negative review.

Precisely when you do this depends on the scale of the problem resolved, and the quality of your relationship with the client – you and your team will know best on this front.

But if our experience tells us anything, a happy client will often be amenable to changing their review. Especially when asked directly – they’re no longer talking to the faceless review site, they’re talking to a human being who has gone out of their way to resolve a problem for them.

When you don’t have the details

Your reviewer might have taken pains to stay anonymous, or you might not be able to match them up to a contact in your CRM system. It happens from time to time.

You should still leave a reply and invite the customer to talk about the problem they’re having. With a bit of luck, they will get in touch and you can resolve the problem with the same process we outlined earlier.

But even if they choose not to get in touch, leaving a reply is better than letting it fester unchallenged. As we pointed out earlier, it’s there for benefit of the next customer that comes along to the page too.

Being engaged and energetic about your review page shows readers that your customer service is proactive and interested. Combined with a high review score, it helps you build confidence in existing and prospective customers that you’re a quality provider.

Tips on leaving a good reply to a bad review:

  1. Be courteous. Not quite formal, but polite.
  2. Be human, using their name if it’s supplied, and using straightforward language.
  3. Express that you’re sorry the customer is having a problem, but don’t apologise or admit blame in your reply.
  4. Offer to help, and leave them with a direct way to get in touch.
  5. Sign off with your own name and title, not the company’s name.

What to do when someone leaves a good review

It’s not all rainy days!

You’re good at what you do, your customers know that, and they’ll express that in reviews. There’s no shame in shamelessly making the most of the good news when you get it.

Here’s how to get the most out of a 5-star review.

Reply to the review

Just as you would for a negative review, get back in touch to thank the user for taking the time to leave positive comments. For all the reasons we’ve already discussed, this is important.

Keep track of them

It pays to start keeping a document of your positive reviews as soon as possible. When you want to draw on them later, it’s much easier to search through an Excel sheet than use Trustpilot’s user interface.

Getting into the habit of logging them pays off down the line when you need information in a hurry. Especially when you want to find one quickly by client, sector, time, or content.

Use them externally

As a review left on a website is in the public domain, you’re free to use a good one to promote your business. That said, we would recommend asking clients for their permission if you want to alter the review.

That would include using it as part of a brochure, adding them to a testimonials section of your website, or using them for your marketing material. And you will want to use them.

A good review from a major client makes for excellent social media content, something to drop into your newsletter to clients, and something you can include on promotional material when prospecting new customers.

Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn when your clients are raving about your company.

Share them internally

If a customer names a specific employee in the review, be sure to pass the review on to that person in recognition of their work.

Or, if the review highlights a particular product or service, let your internal teams know how the end-users appreciate their work.

While doing this, it’s worth CC’ing leadership figures in, so that managers can chip-in with their own recognition, and to make these success stories as visible as possible.

Over to you

Regardless of the review site you use, these simple steps help you turn a Trustpilot page into a legitimate part of your loyalty and acquisition strategy.

If you want to talk about anything else your company can do to bring more customers in, and keep the ones you have for longer, just get in touch!

Appreciate talks to Times Radio: Workers won’t miss their “Mad Friday” office parties

Frank Creighton, our Director of Business Development, spoke to Times Radio about our poll showing that the UK’s workers won’t miss their Mad Friday office parties.

Between the hangovers, the stress, and the Monday-morning shame, they’re happier without it. Our research showed that:

  • Half of employees are happy there’ll be no traditional staff Christmas party this year
  • 1 in 5 say they won’t miss the dreaded office Christmas party hangover
  • 9 out of 10 would prefer cash instead of a staff party
  • 1 in 4 would save the money and 1 in 10 would treat their partner to a night out
  • Almost 1 in 10 say avoiding the ‘walk of shame’ next day and apologising for embarrassing behaviour is a perk of office Christmas parties being called off

Given the choice between an office Christmas party or £50, 9 in 10 said they’d be happy with the cash. Fortunately, HMRC’s Trivial Benefit Allowance enables businesses to gift £50 to employees tax-free, allowing companies to save £33.68 per basic tax-paying employee (£48.10 for higher rate tax payers).

The research, conducted with 1,002 British employees by YouGov, revealed that 46% don’t want a company Christmas party at all this year, compared to 24% who do want one.

Even post-Covid, British employees are not keen on a postponed ‘Christmas do’ – 51% said they wouldn’t attend, compared to 36% who would consider it next year.

When asked how employees would spend the £50, almost one in four (23%) said they would save it and 17% would put it in their Christmas fund.

A romantic 11% said they would spend it on a night out with their partner, whereas only 5% said they would spend it on a gift for their kids.

Interestingly, 7% said they would spend it on themselves and not tell anyone.

Avoiding the dreaded office Christmas party hangover (21%) was the biggest perk of traditional in-person celebrations being cancelled this year, followed by avoiding ‘bad behaviour’, including dad dancing, chatting up a colleague and telling regrettable home truths (8%).

bp treats loyal customers to Love2shop Digital Reward Codes with BPme Rewards scheme

bp’s customer loyalty scheme, BPme Rewards, is now even more rewarding with the addition of Love2shop Digital Reward Codes to the scheme’s online redemption options. Digital reward codes provide bp customers with access to 25+ additional retailers, making every point earned even more exciting.

BPme Rewards celebrates the loyalty of bp customers by awarding them points for bp purchases, whether that’s fuel or in-store purchases. After saving up their points, customers can cash them in for extra fuel, or pick a prize from BPme Rewards’ selection of incredible gifts.

The popular Love2shop Digital Reward Codes have now been added to the online redemption options available, making it even more rewarding to fill up at bp stations. They join an array of single-store gift cards, and a selection of special gifts like toys and cookware.

Love2shop Digital Reward Codes are exchanged online for more than 25 popular brands like Nike, Primark, Foot Locker, and Argos. They can even cash in their loyalty points for holidays, or VIP experiences like track days and skydiving if they’re not up for shopping.

Louise Jackson, UK Lead Loyalty Advisor, said: “BPme Rewards is a fantastic scheme that lets us show our gratitude to our most loyal customers. We’re thrilled that just by adding Love2shop reward codes, we can add so many new ways to say, “thank you” to our valued bp customers.”

Alex Speed, Head of New Business at Appreciate Business Services, said: “We take huge pride in the broad selection and quality of rewards we offer our clients and their customers. By introducing our digital reward codes, we put bp customers in touch with thousands of potential gifts. We’re excited to see bp’s customers enjoy them!

Customers can sign up to BPme Rewards at bpmerewards.co.uk. After picking up a card in-store or by downloading the BPme app and accessing a digital card, customers can start earning points when they fill up and shop with bp.

 

 

Northern Ireland has a great idea – give everyone a gift card

Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister has announced that, as part of a £300m support package for business, they will earmark £95m for a high street gift card scheme.

While the details haven’t been hammered out yet, we do know the scheme will deliver prepaid high street gift cards to individuals in Northern Ireland.

We think it’s a sensational idea.

Cash is not always king

Many people will ask why a gift card scheme is better than just giving businesses the money. It might seem like a more ‘common sense’ idea, but a gift card scheme does much more than just move money from public to private bank accounts.

Gift cards not only generate extra cash flow for businesses, they spur other spending moments beyond their main purchase. Someone who pops out to Argos to spend a gift card is likely to pay for public transport, parking, a coffee, perhaps even a meal while they’re out. They might even make some secondary purchases on top of their gift card value.

Distributing vouchers also ensures businesses carry on operating like businesses – they still need to employ staff, which drives money back into the pockets of their workers. It also means the business still needs to source stock, pushing revenue to their suppliers as well.

The goal is to spur more activity in brick-and-mortar retail and hospitality, and we think this scheme has an excellent chance of doing exactly that.

It’s the same for business rewards

We see a similar effect when employees are issued cash as a reward. The extra money is absorbed into an employee’s monthly pay, and often ends up paying down credit cards, or paying a bill. There’s no novelty, or sense of the cash being a real “treat”.

As a result, just moving cash around doesn’t produce any tangible emotional benefits for staff, and it still doesn’t produce an immediate benefit for the wider economy.

On the other hand, closed-loop rewards like gift cards prompt someone to spend their reward on something special by limiting where it can be used (hence the term closed-loop).

It’s one of the biggest reasons so many companies come to us instead of just issuing a bonus to staff. Even modest amounts of cash can be turned into special moments by making sure recipients spend them on a gift instead of a gas bill.

The scheme is very exciting, and we’ll be keeping an eye out to see how well it helps the high street. In the meantime, however, there’s something the whole UK can do to produce a similar effect without having to earmark money for vouchers.

Back the #GiftCard500 campaign

Alongside the Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA), Appreciate Business Services are supporting the government lifting the limit on the Trivial Benefits Allowance (TBA) from £50 to £500.

The TBA allows businesses to reward their staff with up to £50 a year in gift cards tax-free. An equivalent reward in cash would cost a business up to £40 per employee on top of the £50 gift. By making those rewards tax-free, employers are incentivised to offer non-cash rewards to their staff at Christmas.

By switching from cash to a closed-loop product like a gift card, the money works harder for everyone. Instead of disappearing into savings accounts or settling gas bills, it goes back into our economy through retailers and restaurants.

Given the UK gift card industry is worth more than £6bn a year, there would be huge benefits to business, customers and brick-and-mortar retail alike by raising the threshold. If you’d like to share the campaign, or get behind it yourself, you can find the GVCA’s Change.org petition here.