The Christmas party is cancelled. How will you celebrate instead?

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind year so it feels crazy that we’re already talking about the big C word. Christmas. At a time when we usually start parting with our Christmas party deposits and getting all excited about company festivities, there’s one thought in everyone’s mind – what is going to be the difference this year?

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that your 2020 company celebrations will likely be a lot different than the norm but hey, I think a lot of us expected it. It looks like plans will be minus the company-wide parties where let’s face it, not a lot of social distancing goes on.

It’s no wonder many companies across the UK have already cancelled their Christmas plans and with that in mind, it doesn’t surprise us that 74% of our customers say they are definitely not planning a party this year at all.

Are we putting our party shoes away this Christmas?

All these factors beg the question – how are employers going to celebrate Christmas with staff this year? Well, we surveyed a number of our clients to find out.

From those giving the Christmas party a miss, it looks like many companies haven’t yet got Christmas gifts at the top of their mind. This is likely due to all the uncertainty with finances and budgets, which has changed attitudes towards Christmas celebrations.

On the contrary, alternative rewards are already on the radar for some companies as 35% are planning an alternative way to celebrate their staff, with that number expected to increase dramatically over the coming months.

So, is it looking like a Zoom Christmas party? Well that was one of the alternative rewards we quizzed our clients about, but closer to the top came gifting cards and vouchers instead, as well as offering cash gifts and a staff rewards scheme.

It looks like some employees might also benefit from an extra days holiday at Christmas too, with this being another popular alternative. Socially distanced parties were on the cards for some, but the Christmas budget has been moved for a 2021 summer party instead.

Overall it doesn’t look like company Christmas celebrations are cancelled, it just looks like we’ll be celebrating in a different kind of way. So, will your company continue to embrace the festivities or have the challenges posed by the pandemic put a dampener on your Christmas spirit?

Case study – Digital rewards make sure healthcare heroes are recognised


A large UK healthcare provider, whose portfolio includes numerous care homes, found themselves unable to safely reward their staff with plastic gift cards following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK.


The challenge

For more than three years previously, the client had been enjoying our Love2shop Gift Cards. While we always discuss our digital reward options with clients, in this case, our client was understandably reluctant to change a winning formula – their reward scheme was producing good levels of engagement and positive feedback with using plastic gift cards.

While the client was happy with their status quo, the COVID-19 outbreak forced a change. Not only was there a sharp increase in the demands placed on the workdays of their employees, meriting more recognition and reward, but there was no safe way to distribute physical gift cards to their employees. A solution had to be found, and fast.

“Crucially, we’ve been able to keep engagement high, and keep rewarding our amazing staff, through a difficult time.”

Appreciate’ solution

After a conversation with their account manager,  Jackie Reynolds, about these difficulties, we recommended they switch to our  digital reward codes.

Our codes are an end-to-end digital product, meaning  there’s no physical interaction between our clients and their staff  when  buying or delivering them. Clients order them through our Self-Serve portal, and they’re delivered digitally. The codes themselves come to employees as emails or text messages, and those employees redeem them online. Perfect for sending rewards when physical contact is dangerous.

As it was unthinkable that our client’s incredible staff would go without rewards for their work during this difficult period, these digital rewards were a natural fit. Jackie helped them through an initial transition, and made sure the client got right back to thanking their employees with exciting rewards as soon as possible.

“The codes are so simple to use that our staff have had no trouble making the switch.”

The outcome

Most importantly, our client was able to lift morale among their staff in a trying time. For Appreciate, part of Appreciate Group plc, this is one of the aspects of our work we’re most proud of. Employees doing great things deserve to be recognised and celebrated. It’s a privilege to help deliver that for our clients.

However, the rewards have also been a success in other ways. For instance, our client’s staff have enjoyed their digital rewards so much, they are considering continuing to use digital rewards even when contact is safe in their workplace again.

The digital ordering and delivery process for our reward codes also deliver significant advantages in fulfilment and ordering. Especially when centrally managing a nationwide scheme. Our client would previously order their gift cards, and have them delivered to their central office. From there, the client would separate the rewards and send them to individual facilities, creating a time-consuming administrative task on top of postage fees.

Our simple ordering process, and digitally fulfilled rewards, massively simplified that process, removing the need for physical fulfilment. The combined effect is less time, and less money, being spent to deliver better rewards.

Jackie Reynolds, the Love2Shop Engagement Consultant who managed the project, added: “What’s good to see is how easily their staff have adapted to their new rewards. Many clients have concerns about changing their staff rewards, especially if it involves technology, but our experience is usually that employees adapt quickly to the switch. It’s heartening to see that’s also the case for this challenge, given how important these rewards are to the client.”

Our contact inside the company said: “All our worries about switching from plastic to digital evaporated straight away. The codes are so simple to use that our staff have had no trouble making the switch. Crucially, we’ve also been able to keep engagement high, and keep rewarding our amazing staff through a difficult time.

“Appreciate, and our account manager Jackie, have done a great job helping us quickly make the change, and making sure that our incredible staff get the thanks and rewards they deserve so much during this difficult period.”



*At the request of our client, this case study has been anonymised.

News: Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland delights 4,000 employees with the launch of the Leo Points recognition scheme

This week, hotel chain Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland, has enhanced its employee value proposition, with the launch of a social recognition platform.

Titled ‘Leo Points’, this peer-to-peer recognition system hands every employee the opportunity to publicly celebrate their colleagues’ achievements. That could be anything from chipping in to help prepare rooms on time for guests, to being named personally on a guest review. In fact, anything that employees and their peers value.

By letting all Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels employees recognise each other – regardless of their place in the company – Leo Points puts aside traditional organisational hierarchies, to bring the whole company together through one platform. This helps employees build better relationships with their work, their colleagues and their employer.

Sarah Hoyle, Group Employee Relations and Engagement Manager at Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland, said: “Our employees are positive, helpful and dedicated people, and we are extremely proud of the outstanding work they do every day.

We believe they deserve recognition, not just from their managers but also from each other. Leo Points will give all of our employees the chance to recognise the amazing things their colleagues do day in, day out. We’re excited to see our employees celebrate what makes their work at Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland so special!”

As a leading hotel chain, employees range from kitchen porters to receptionists, and are located across the UK and Ireland and operate under two brands.  Leo Points bridges the divide, allowing both fixed and mobile workers to recognise each other’s achievements in real time.

The system provides a way to recognise those who demonstrate the company’s culture and values – characterised by enthusiasm and doing the simple things brilliantly, whilst upholding traditional hospitality principles.

Adam Whatling, Global Engagement Lead at Appreciate, said: “The employees at Jurys Inns and Leonardo Hotels are going to love recognising each other through Leo Points. With 3,800+ employees spread across 48 hotels in the UK, they are a perfect candidate for our centralised recognition platform.

When the Brighton team celebrate each other’s achievements, employees from every hotel in the company, all the way up to Inverness, will be able to see it and offer their congratulations.

That inclusive, positive recognition will guide Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland to a more collaborative and supportive environment for all of their employees. We are all ecstatic about the launch, and we can’t wait to see Jurys Inns and Leonardo Hotel teams embrace the program and celebrate their exceptional work.”

Christmas opening hours for 2019/20

We hope you and your team will be taking a well-earned break over Christmas.

We trust you’ll take the chance to spend some time with your family and friends, and enjoy your Love2shop Gift Cards, Reward Codes and Vouchers. Our teams will also be taking a few days over Christmas to relax after another busy Christmas season.

Appreciate Christmas and New Year opening hours:

  • 24th December – Closed from 12:00
  • 25th December – Closed all day
  • 26th December – Closed all day
  • 27th December – Closed all day

We’ll re-open on the 30th and 31st, then we’re closed for New Year’s Day on the 1st of January.

On Thursday the 2nd, we go back to our usual posted opening hours, and you will be able to reach our business development and support teams just as you normally would.

Last orders for Christmas rewards

Love2shop Rewards help boost employee retentionOur teams can take orders for physical delivery of Christmas rewards right up until 15:00 on the 18th of December. That’s only a few days away, so if you haven’t sorted anything out for the office yet, get in touch!

You can also place orders for our digital reward codes any time through our self-serve platform for next-day delivery right up until the 23rd of December. If you haven’t been set up on self-serve yet, you just need to talk to our team.

If you have any questions about orders or opening hours, you’re welcome to get in touch. We’d be happy to help you, right up until 12:00 on the 24th.


News: Appreciate Group & CleverGift launch UK’s first fully digital multi-brand gift card for mobile wallets

Appreciate Group are Appreciate’ parent company. They’re a leading gifting and engagement business, and they’re experts at creating joyful experiences and connecting people to the things in life they enjoy the most.

Under the Appreciate Group marquee, our sister company has just launched a groundbreaking new digital gift service, which will bring more even more joy to personal gifting. Their press release has all the details you need:

Leading gifting and engagement company, Appreciate Group, has launched the UK’s first fully digital multi-brand gift card with add-to-wallet capabilities.

The UK-first technology – available now – enables consumers and businesses to send the ‘Select Digital Gift Card’ instantly by email, text, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Once activated by the recipient, the digital gift card can be used online or in-store through their mobile wallet at a host of major UK retail brands.

By enabling the recipient to check their balance at any time, the gift card strips away the age-old problem of people forgetting how much they’ve spent on their unused gift cards.

Appreciate Group has collaborated with payments technology business CleverGift to launch the UK-first technology, which is available for consumers and business now through, the nation’s most popular online voucher store.

The Select Digital Gift Card “completely reimagines” how gift cards should work, enabling people to send cards instantly and directly to family, friends or colleagues by email, SMS, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

With no postage costs or waste, the gift card converts to a secure Prepaid Mastercard once activated by the recipient and they can then spend the full value of the gift card in-store or by simply tapping their mobile wallet at more than 6,400 outlets of 61 of the most popular retail brands in the UK.

By enabling the recipient to check their balances at any time, the gift card also removes the age-old problem of people forgetting which gift cards they’ve used or what balance they have remaining.

“We’re proud to be the first company in the UK to bring this type of technology to market,” said Appreciate Group CEO, Ian O’Doherty. “It’s a real game-changer in many ways as it completely reimagines how gift cards should work in a mobile-enabled world.

“We want to make celebrating, rewarding or creating moments of joy – whether that be buying a gift card for someone special or as a thank you to a colleague – to be incredibly simple, and the Select Digital Gift Card does that.”

Appreciate Group, which owns and operates the brand, is already trusted by millions of consumers and businesses to help them create moments they can treasure and remember whether they are giving, receiving or experiencing something special.

CleverGift is a payments technology business with offices in Dublin, Ireland. It’s CEO and Founder Kealan Lennon, said: “Appreciate Group has shown bold ambition and a real commitment to testing the limits of innovation, which shows amazing forward thinking.

“The Select Digital Gift Card takes the concept of gifting truly into the mobile era and gives customers the maximum freedom of choice wherever and whenever they chose to use their gifts.

“Contactless payments and mobile wallets represent a huge – and growing – share of payments and now is the time to embrace this type of technology. We’re proud to be working alongside Appreciate Group to launch this product and to help them strengthen their market leading position in the UK.”

For customers’ security and safety, access to the gift card via mobile will only be available by using two-factor authentication.

Learn more about our parent company, Appreciate Group, on their website here.

Learn more about our b2c sister company,, on their website here.

The 2018 Shout! Stand

Drop by and say hi to us at EB Live and the CIPD Annual Conference

Some of the Appreciate team will be popping up at two of the huge HR events of the year.

We hope you drop in and say hello.

The Appreciate stand will be promoting our recognition platform, Shout!, but we’re always happy to talk to our clients.

While you drop in for a chat, you can have a bit of fun on the stand and enter our competition.

We’ll be exhibiting at two major events this year, EB Live and the CIPD Annual Conference.

Employee Benefits Live

What: Employee Benefits Live is Europe’s biggest event dedicated to HR and benefits.

When: 1-2 October, 2019.

Stand: E65

Where: ExCel, London.


CIPD Annual Conference

What: CIPD’s Annual Conference is a huge two-day learning and exhibition opportunity for the HR industry.

When: 6-7 November, 2019.

Stand: We’re on stand F95.

Where: Manchester Central Convention Complex.


We look forward to seeing you there

Drop us a line if you’ll be at either event! We had a great time at EB Live 2018, we’re really looking forward to this year’s event.

Goodbye, old friend: we are discontinuing the £1 Love2shop Gift Voucher

After more than twenty years, Love2shop is saying goodbye to the £1 denomination of the Love2shop Gift Voucher.

We know it’s the right thing to do, and we know we’re doing this for the right reasons, but it’s still a little bit bittersweet.

Our £1 voucher has been a part of the history of not just Appreciate, but our sister companies and Park Christmas Savings too.

Over the years the £1 voucher has been there for hundreds of thousands of birthdays, Christmas dinners, presents, incentives, rewards and more.

The times, they are a-changing

But, it’s time for us to make this change. There just isn’t the same demand for a £1 voucher these days, and as of August 15th 2019, the voucher will disappear.

Our Business Development team, Love2shop Self-Serve, and will stop selling the voucher to the public.

Don’t panic if you have a clutch of £1 vouchers that haven’t been redeemed yet.

Any vouchers still in circulation will honoured until their expiry date, that’s still business as usual.

We’ll also keep stocking the £5 and £10 vouchers, so any clients with a paper preference will be catered for.

Seizing an opportunity

Change isn’t a bad thing though. It’s an opportunity.

Love2shop, and Park Group itself, have always been proud of our ability to adapt and develop over time.

While the £1 voucher is sailing off into the sunset, we’re strengthening what we offer in other areas.

For instance, over the last year our gift card has seen an enormous surge in of interest.

Many more of our clients making the full-time switch to plastic.

In turn, we’ve strengthened the gift card by opening our library of e-gift cards.

E-gift cards are a further selection of brands a cardholder can access through or our app.

You can read more about how great our e-gift card options are here.

The Love2shop app

Speaking of our app, the Love2shop App itself is a huge development.

It brings the Love2shop Gift Card experience back in line with what modern consumers expect from their digital experience.

Card registration, finding places to spend, trading for e-gift cards, managing cards and more is now a seamless mobile on experience on Apple and Android.

Talk to us

If you have any concerns about how the disappearance of the £1 voucher might affect your business’ rewards or incentives, just get in touch.

Our team are available 09:00 -17:00 on weekdays, and they’re always happy to help our clients.

You can call, email, or use the web chat function on this site.


love2shop vouchers help pregnant smokers stub it out

Love2shop News: Love2shop Vouchers help expecting mothers stub it out

Love2shop Gift Vouchers have helped NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) convince more expecting mothers to quit smoking.

According to NHSGGC, introducing Love2shop Vouchers as an incentive drove a 38% increase in mothers successfully stubbing out their cigarettes.

The scheme, called Quit Your Way, asks expecting mothers to set a date to pack in their cigarettes.

Pregnant women who successfully kick their habit in time enjoy £160 worth of Love2shop Gift Vouchers as a reward.

The result is significant, as there is a strong link between smoking while pregnant and hospitalisation of children.

Eliminating pregnant smoking across the UK would improve the health of thousands of very young children, and potentially save lives. Not to mention, quitting improves the health of the mothers in question.

Dr Emilia Crighton, NHSGGC consultant, said: “We were seeing that many pregnant women were struggling to quit smoking and we felt a fresh approach was needed…the incentive gives them a reward for successfully stopping smoking and staying stopped.

“The feedback we have received is that many of the women we support really appreciate receiving the incentives and the difference they can make. This allows them to buy important things for their baby and for their family.”

NHSGGC are not the only organisation using our rewards as incentives.

The University of Sheffield, NHS Yorkshire and Humber, and NHS Greater Manchester have all used Love2shop Gift Cards or Vouchers to incentivise pregnant smokers to quit smoking.

Martin Cooper, Head of Client Development at Appreciate, said: “It’s a very satisfying outcome. We always take pride in our rewards, and how they enrich our clients’ business, but these stories really stand out. Knowing we’re helping the NHS fulfil a scheme that’s improving the health of mothers and babies is especially delightful.”

The Love2shop Gift Voucher, offered through the Quit Your Way scheme, is the UK’s most popular multi-retailer voucher. Love2shop Vouchers are accepted at more than 150 retailers across the UK, including shops like Boots, Semichem, Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre.

One for the road: our last blog in 2018