What is an “Experience Gift”?

Consumers are increasingly looking for personally engaging and memorable experiences. Tapping into this young, but rapidly growing market, are “Experience Gifting” companies, who gather, and curate, a selection of the most popular experiences to create exciting nationwide catalogs, either packaged in physical paper boxes, or for sale via online channels.

Weekend getaways and golfing breaks, as well as adventure activities like driving sport cars, taking flying lessons, skydiving, kayaking, white-water rafting, and hang-gliding activities are hugely popular, and they are likely to remain at the heart of the experience market in future years. However, the product mix is beginning to gradually diversify towards the lifestyle-led end of the market. Pampering and relaxation experiences are currently a major area of focus for most experience operators. There is particularly strong demand for days-out centering on wildlife and nature, city tours, spa days, and gastronomic packages such as meals and menu-sampling experiences in high-end restaurants, wine tasting, and gourmet cooking lessons. While the actual experiences themselves have a finite duration, the memories they create can last a lifetime.

Leading brands need a leading platform

Smartbox Group is the European and Worldwide leader in the experience gift market. The company operates in 10 countries through 7 well-known brands: Smartbox, Bongo, Buyagift, La Vida Es Bella, Cadeaubox, Dakotabox and Emozione3. Smartbox Group sold over 6 million experience gifts in 2015, and achieved sales of 500 million euros. They offer a wide range of experience themes, created to appeal to the diverse tastes of their customers, including overnight stays, wellness, adventure, gastronomy and special occasion multi-theme packages. The experiences are available for purchase via major retailers across Europe such as department stores, hypermarkets, cultural goods retailers, as well as online on the various company branded websites.

Managing complexity

While this seems like an extension of a typical gift card program, selling experience vouchers is actually much more complex than most consumer businesses. The distribution chain involves two customers – the experience gift buyer and the beneficiary – as well as the experience supplier, and the retailer. In addition, issuing and acquiring technologies are involved. All parties involved need to be satisfied, and settle out of the transaction. Smartbox Group selected Ogloba’s innovative solutions and processing services to simplify, unify and strengthen its voucher life-cycle management, and facilitate the introduction of new products and services. Based on Ogloba’s industry-leading giftcard platform, the solution has been developed to address the critical requirements of Smartbox Group, which include:

  • The creation of vouchers (PAN generation)

  • The manufacturing of vouchers

  • Inventory management

  • Sales and requisition orders

  • Online and offline activation of vouchers

  • Issuing of invoices to the clients, and payment collection

  • Booking and reservation of activities

  • Voucher redemption at partners

  • Processing and billing of the partners

  • After-sales and hotline tools

  • Production and reporting of relevant data.

Managed from a single integrated platform, the whole process is streamlined for retailers, experience providers, buyers, and recipients.