A gift for engagement | Incentive & Motivation


A gift for engagement

Gail Cohen, Director General of the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association (UKGCVA), says this is an exciting time for an industry that is poised for growth


With more than 20 years of experience working to build brands, awareness and audience engagement across the public, private and non-profit sectors, taking charge of an industry association like the UKGCVA is a challenge that Gail Cohen relishes. “I’m delighted to be given this opportunity to help position the UKGCVA to drive the industry across the whole of the retail and consumer environment,” says Gail. “My background is not in the gift card industry but I’ve been involved in a lot of projects which were about helping organisations to be successful through branding, marketing and sponsorship – generally making them successful.

I’ve had to learn and am still earning very much about the industry, but the principles are the same with any proposition: it’s about finding the best way to build success. That’s why it’s so motivating to be the Director General of an association.

It’s an opportunity to look at an entire sector – consumers, retailers, issuers, service providers – and find the best ways to support them. I have a great executive and an excellent Chair in Eoin Whyte, and working with them has been fantastic because they are very engaged and incredibly supportive.”

Part of Gail’s focus is on business as usual – making sure the UKGCVA can deliver what gift card retailers, issuers and service providers need now. “Recently the UKGCVA has rightly been focused on key issues including legislation, and we’ll continue to represent the views of our members as well as coming up with our members as well as coming up with solutions to satisfy regulators,” says Gail. “We are actively involved with both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and other government agencies, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that we’re representing the views of our members and doing what we can tohelp both the consumer and the industry.”

At the same time, Gail is looking to the association’s future. Among her immediate priorities, ensuring accessibility for an increasingly diverse membership is high on the agenda. “I want to review the membership offer and to make it accessible to a much wider audience,” says Gail. “I’ve spoken with people such as consultants and smaller businesses who say they’d like to become members. So we need to look at developing a membership scheme that provides opportunity for a much broader membership.

It’s also important to extend beyond member meetings in a physical place, to enable much more online engagement through things like webinars, and online forums.” It’s also important to harness the expertise of members and deliver insight that engages the boardroom, says Gail. “This is a fast-paced industry, and thanks to its steady rate of growth within both B2B and B2C it’s a really interesting sector to be in at the moment. It’s a continuously developing market with huge impact potential. Some of the new technologies being implemented by members and service providers are truly revolutionary, and we need to make sure they get into the market.

Digital expertise in the industry holds a lot of answers, but those people need to be able to demonstrate the benefit and that comes down to engagement at executive level. We have a fantastic opportunity to drive that through thought leadership that engages the senior executives in that discussion.”

Looking ahead, Gail sees a huge opportunity for the UKGCVA to engage the boardroom, to ensure that people recognise the value of the industry and how younger generations engage with it. “Mobile and online technologies, in particular, offer a significant opportunity for growth,” says Gail. “Mobile has huge potential to drive the industry and change the way it operates, and we really need to know the end users in that context. The gift card industry has an opportunity to be much more centrally involved in customer insight strategies, to increase customer loyalty and engagement and improve the customer experience, both for the purchaser of the gift card and its end user. “A gift card is an omni-channel product because you can use it online, through your smartphone and so on.

That has the potential to be a powerful inflection point in the growth of the industry because it makes us look at things in a different way. In addition, as new technologies and banking apps emerge more people are going paperless, and we need to focus on how we evolve the overall gift card offer from a marketing perspective, as an experience that continues to delight and engage people. We have a huge opportunity to build on those trends, to drive revenue and loyalty by engaging with gift cards, vouchers and digital in the way that younger generations want to engage. In doing so, we will position ourselves to engage with the next generation of gift card users.” 

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