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Driving Business in the Offseason with a Seasonal Gift Card Promotion

Grotto Organization Store
Grotto Organization Info
The Challenge

Since many Grotto Pizza locations are right on the beach, the summer months always bring big crowds. However, guest visits naturally decline in the winter months, particularly from January through March. Grotto Pizza wanted to find a way to increase dining visits during the late-winter months while also showing appreciation for its most loyal customers. The goal was a lasting promotional campaign that could be repeated and improved upon year after year.

“We wanted to do something nice for our guests, and the slower winter months are the perfect time to do that... 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.”

Vinnie DiNatale, Director of marketing Grotto Pizza
Grotto Solution
The Solution

To stimulate visits during the slow winter months, Grotto Pizza turned to a Paytronix-powered gift program. A holiday gift card promotion was specifically designed to encourage guests to come back and dine during Grotto Pizza’s offseason.

The Promotion

For each Grotto Pizza gift card purchased, a bonus card would be issued for 20% of the value ($10 free when you purchase a $50 gift card). The offer started two weeks before Black Friday, when shoppers begin to make gift purchases for the holiday, and ran through December 31st. The promotional bonus cards could be redeemed between January 1st and March 31st, spanning Grotto Pizza’s three slowest months.

Grotto Promotion

Grotto Benefits Icon Multiple VisitsMultiple Visits from Each Purchase – Grotto Pizza sold the gift cards in all of its locations as well as online. Any that were being shipped could also include a personalized greeting for the recipient. 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.


Grotto Benefits Icon Higher SpendHigher Spend – The 20% bonus led guests 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 in order to get a $20 card for themselves.


Grotto Benefits Icon Increased VisitsIncreased Visits – The offer increased gift card sales by 20% the first year and then by 30% the second holiday season (over same-store gift card sales the prior year).

Adapting for Sustained Success

During the third holiday season, Grotto Pizza focused its marketing efforts on reaching out to more people about the holiday gift card program. The word was spread to its Swirl Rewards loyalty program members and through email marketing. Ultimately, this holiday gift card promotion delivered three high-impact results:

Sustainable Growth in Gift Card Sales – In terms of total spend, Grotto Pizza saw more than a 20% lift in sales in comparison to the same-store sales for the promotion the year before.

Increased Guest Traffic During Off-Peak Winter Hours – The three-month redemption period for the bonus cards provided a surge of customer visits in the winter offseason without discounting visits during the summer, when Grotto’s traffic is already heavy.

Strengthened Customer Loyalty – Guests continue to thank Grotto Pizza for giving back during the holiday season with a 20% reward, which is much higher than the industry norm.

Grotto Adapting For Success

“The gift program works... We don’t just see a one-time spike from an offer. We’re filling the restaurants with more offseason business year after year.”

Vinnie DiNatale, Director of marketing Grotto Pizza
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