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Grotto Pizza Fills Offseason Seats with Seasonal Gift Card Promotion Yielding 20% Year-Over-Year Growth

Grotto Pizza's "Holiday Gift Card Campaign" generated more than 20% lift in 2015 sales when compared to the same store sales for the promotion in 2014. Using the Paytronix Gift Platform, Grotto Pizza offered customers a 20% bonus card add-on to the value of any gift cards purchased from November 13th through December 31st during 2015. In addition to creating incremental revenue, the bonus cards were redeemable only from January 1st until March 31st, thus driving off-season traffic.

“The gift card program is not only working to increase business during the offseason, but we’ve seen a continued increase in card sales for several years with Paytronix, so it wasn’t just an initial spike from a new or one-time offer.” - Vinnie DiNatale, Director of Marketing at Grotto Pizza


The Organization Grotto Pizza is a family casual dining restaurant that’s been a mainstay of Delaware’s beaches since 1960. Grotto Pizza expanded inland over the years through Delaware Pennsylvania and Maryland. Three years ago, the restaurant chain migrated its gift, reward and email marketing programs to the Paytronix Platform in order to create a better way to drive guest traffic during off-peak winter hours, and to increase traffic on weekday evenings. 

Grotto Pizza Logo

The Challenge With many of its locations right on the beach, summer months always bring big crowds; however guest visits naturally decline in the winter months, particularly from January through March. Grotto Pizza needed a fresh marketing campaign to increase dining visits during the slower late-winter months, and also wanted to show appreciation for its most loyal, customers during the holiday season. They wanted a lasting promotional campaign that could be repeated and improved upon year after year to stimulate winter visits.

“We wanted to do something nice for our guests, and the slower winter months are the perfect time to do that,” said Vinnie DiNatale, Director of Marketing at Grotto Pizza Inc. “We get some of our best results from our loyalty customers. It’s an offer they now look forward to each year as a benefit of the loyalty program.”

Solution - The Holiday Gift Card Promotion To alleviate the winter doldrums, Grotto Pizza, turned to the Paytronix-powered  Gift Program. Grotto Pizza designed a holiday gift card promotion that would encourage its guests to come back and dine during Grotto Pizza’s slow months.                                                                        

The promotion offered a 20% bonus card add-on to the value of any Grotto Pizza gift cards purchased ($10 free when you purchase a $50 gift card). The offer started on November 13 – two weeks before Black Friday when shoppers begin to make gift purchases for the holiday – and ran through December 31st. The promotional bonus cards were open for redemption starting January 1st for use until March 31st, a full three-month redemption period that spanned Grotto Pizza’s offseason.


  • Multiple Visits from Each Purchase – Grotto Pizza sold the custom gift cards in all of its stores, as well as online at Guests could pick up the custom-branded gift cards in person or just have them shipped to the recipient along with a personalized greeting. While the gifts cards could be sent anywhere, customers could hold onto the bonus cards for themselves, so one purchase would ideally drive two or more return visits, all during the off-season.
  • Higher Spend – The 20 percent bonus led guests both to buy more cards and to purchase larger gift card amounts than they would otherwise. For example, those who planned to buy a $50 gift card often bumped it up to $100 to get an extra $20 card for themselves.
  • Increased Visits – The offer increased gift card sales by 20% the first year for the 2013 holiday season, and then by 30% in the 2014 holiday season (over same store gift card sales the prior year).

Adapting for Sustained Success in 2015

For the 2015 season, Grotto Pizza focused its marketing efforts on reaching more people about the holiday gift card program.

“We leveraged Paytronix to get the word out to our Swirl Rewards loyalty program members and through our email marketing, and had plenty of time in 2015 to do more physical in-store promotions,” said Vinnie DiNatale, Director of Marketing at Grotto Pizza. “We were able to promote the offering in gift guide ads in local papers and also worked with the Chamber of Commerce. We not only matched those peak results from 2014 but we grew another 20% again in 2015.”

Overall, the 2015 Grotto Pizza holiday gift card promotion delivered three high-impact results:

  1. Sustainable Growth in Gift Card Sales – In terms of total spend, Grotto Pizza saw more than 20% lift in 2015 sales when compared to the same store sales for the promotion in 2014! For three years, the program has continued to grow at an average rate of more than 20% per year.
  2. Drive Guest Traffic During Off-Peak Winter Hours – Featuring a long redemption period of January 1 to March 31, the bonus cards are providing a surge of customer visits in the winter off-season, without discounting visits during the summer season when Grotto’s traffic is already heavy.
  3. Strengthen Customer Loyalty – Guests continue to thank Grotto Pizza for giving back during the holiday season with a 20% reward that’s much higher than the industry norm.


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