by Alex Palmer | June 30, 2017
Technology has reshaped how people travel these days, from sharing their outings on Instagram to rethinking how they book travel and arrange transportation. These shifts are also impacting how people receive and apply their individual travel gift cards. Incentive spoke with Shelley Hunter, a gift card expert at, a Blackhawk Network business, about this changing landscape and what she's seeing in the travel gift card segment.

Incentive: What makes individual travel gift cards a powerful segment right now?
Hunter: The travel industry has changed by providing more options to consumers, but social media has impacted people's travel lifestyles as well.
For example, people rarely post pictures of the things they buy anymore. Instead, they post pictures of what they are doing and with whom they are doing it. A quick look at Instagram hashtags shows over 42 million posts with the hashtag #adventure, 5 million posts with the hashtag #adventuretime, 1 million posts with the hashtag #adventurethatislife and more than 525,000 posts with #adventureawaits. #bucketlist has 4.3 million posts. 
What a fantastic opportunity to give people gift cards that can be used to create adventures, check items off bucket lists and give the recipient something to post about. A side benefit is that the recipient will most likely always remember who gave them such a memory-making gift.

Incentive: What trends are you seeing in the travel gift card segment?
Hunter: The new "sharing economy" has changed the way people travel and has created wonderful opportunities in the gift card space, allowing businesses like Uber and Airbnb to become popular gift cards -- especially for incentive recipients. These type of travel gift cards allow someone to receive the experience of travel at a price that is affordable for a range of budgets and that utilizes services that can fit almost any lifestyle.

Incentive: How would you say that individual travel gift cards are changing or how has it shifted in the last few years?
Hunter: I believe that every product and service -- including elements of travel -- can be giftable and should be available in a gift card. Previously, the idea of receiving a gift card for basic services such as gas, lodging, or transportation services would be too practical to be considered a gift, we have appropriately shifted into a place where we recognize that sometimes taking care of someone's needs is more valuable than providing either a traditional gift card as an incentive that could only be described as a luxury.