Case Studies

The Downtown Dollars Promotional Gift Card

Following the $400,000 success of the Downtown Dollars Gift Card, Downtown London BIA introduced a promotional version of their Gift Card in 2023.

Case study: The Downtown Dollars Promotional Card

Downtown London Business Improvement Area (BIA) upgraded their paper system for the high-tech Downtown Dollars Gift Card on September 14, 2021, as part of efforts to keep London local. In the first two years, over $400,000 of Downtown Dollars Gift Cards were sold and sponsored. In 2023, Downtown London introduced a promotional version of their Downtown Dollars Gift Card. 

Vicki Smith, Manager of Operations, and Hailey Etchen, Manager of Programs and Partnerships, at Downtown London BIA, told us more:

Why did you introduce your Downtown Dollars promotional card?

“Our Downtown Dollars Gift Card has been hugely successful for consumer sales and also as a community engagement tool. As a BIA, we have really strong relationships with tourism organizations and with conference and event spaces such as RBC so that door is always open. The idea of a collaboration with our partners to encourage those coming downtown for a specific reason, such as a conference, to explore downtown using a Gift Card is one we’d thought about off and on, and the Downtown Dollars promotional card made is feasible.”

How does the promotional card work?

“The promotional Gift Card runs exactly the same as our regular Downtown Dollars Gift Card, so it gets loaded in the same way. It has the same branding for the brand recognition, but has been tweaked slightly from our original Gift Card to avoid confusion. Setting up the promotional Gift Card with Miconex was very easy.

“We give the Downtown Dollars promotional card at conferences to delegates loaded to a set amount, so that they can have a free night downtown, maybe going to a restaurant or a cafe. And the promotional Gift Card has an expiry date, giving the delegate just a few days to spend it whilst they’re in town. As a BIA, we receive 75% back of any money that isn’t spent on the promotional Gift Cards.”

What benefits have you seen with the promotional card?

“One of the core benefits is the overpend on the Gift Card. Our first promotional Gift Card had a balance of $10 and we saw a 386% uplift in spend. People used the Gift Cards right across the Downtown, and as our BIA covers 84 blocks, it was fantastic to see that the Cards really encouraged exploration. The promotional Gift Cards were mainly used with food related places like restaurants, bars and cafes but there was some retail too, and even a tattoo shop!

“Using the promotional Gift Cards has helped us to reach a different customer base and has given us reach across South Western Ontario. Every person who has used one has that experience downtown, driving further future visits to London.”

What are your future plans with your promotional card?

“Initially, we only ordered a small batch of the promotional Gift Cards, so our next task is to order more! We also plan to increase the value on the Gift Cards from $10, as the greater the value on the Gift Card, the more valuable people will find it and the more likely it will be used.”

Do you have any advice for other BIAs on using promotional cards?

“If you are a BIA that uses sponsorship and gives out Gift Cards, then it is very worthwhile to get a promotional Gift Card. There isn’t a lot of expense involved and it’s a fantastic way to be more inventive with your community collaborations. As you’ll get back a percentage of what isn’t spent, it reduces the risk involved of offering Gift Cards to those that might only be in town for a short period of time. It also lessens the uncertainty of giving out Gift Cards with no expiration date, and not knowing if/when these Gift Cards might be redeemed. 

“A promotional Gift Card is also a great way to promote your businesses in a different way to a different and often a brand new audience. It’s an initiative that benefits recipients, businesses, local organizations and your BIA.”

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