by Leo Jakobson | September 25, 2013
One of the broadest gift cards in the individual incentive travel market has a new name and a new, more flexible product.

Peter Friend, whose Global Hotel Card (GHC) firm brought the Travelocity gift card to the incentive market, has switched travel providers and recently launched the Global Hotel Card Powered by Orbitz. 

The new card lets recipients use points earned in any incentive, recognition, or loyalty program use them to make a reservation at any of the more than 70,000 hotels in 240 countries in the Orbitz network. Reservations must be made through the GlobalHotelCard.com website, not directly on Orbitz. 

“Individual incentive travel is an absolutely ideal category for global expansion [of incentive programs] with gift card and merchandise awards,” Friend says. He notes that the new card can be used in any country and does not have the fulfillment complications of offering country-compatible merchandise in a multinational program.

“Orbitz is supporting my business in a much stronger way,” Friend sys. “I am now able to offer cards in multiple currencies and multiple languages, and we will now be able to accept split payment. So, if you have $100 on [a Global Hotel Card] you can buy a $200 award on my site and put the other $100 on a Visa or MasterCard.”

Currently the Global Hotel Cards are dollar-value denominated, but Friend says he will have Stay certificates good for one or more nights at a hotel, with no blackout dates, available by the end of the year for incentive program managers who want to offer awards without a dollar-value attached. Stay certificates will be available in five tiers, roughly aligning with hospitality industry star ratings. 

“This is a distinction that I believe is important,” Friend says. “I look to how I can fit my product into customers’ programs, rather than put my consumer-branded card into this channel.”

GHC’s cards are currently available in U.S. dollars, euros, and U.K. pounds; Canadian and Australian dollars will be available soon. Plastic cards, paper certificates, and digital e-card codes are available, and co-branding with a company or incentive program logo or message is encouraged.

Aside from the straight Global Hotel Cards, GHC also offers Global Hotel Promotional Hotel Cards, which can have a minimum stay and spend requirement, as well as a one-card-per-booking limit; and the Global Hotel Savings Card, for discounted savings on a hotel stay. Unlike the regular card, both of these can have expiration dates, although the buyer’s retains the value on a card that has expired, so it can be used in a future promotion.