Card Sample Packs now available – oh yeah!

Membership cards samplesNow you’d think that all printed plastic cards are the same, wouldn’t you?

Well they’re not.

The quality of print and materials can vary from supplier to supplier. And then there’s the vast array of finishes and features available, from spot UV varnish to foiling and metallic stripes. These can turn a good card project into a stunning card project – if you know what to ask for.

Try before you buy

We don’t expect you to take our word for it when we say we create great quality plastic cards.Loyalty cards samples

So if you’re thinking about ordering some plastic cards, we’ll happily send you out some samples of what to expect. You’ll get to physically hold and see the difference between matt and gloss finish; and to see for yourself the difference a bit of foiling or varnish can make.

Because a photograph just can’t convey that ‘ooh’, in the same way that a tactile print finish can.

We have samples of everything from Membership Cards to Loyalty Cards, Cloakroom Tags, Hotel Key Cards, 2-part snap-off cards, Key Tags and car park passes. And if you’re interested in a particular feature, like barcode, metallic stripe or QR code, or in a special finish, we can send examples of those too.

Cloakroom Tags samplesSimply email us at sales@thecardnetwork.co.uk or give us a call on 01244 526009 to give us an idea about your card project, and we’ll get our card samples on their merry way to you.

Oh, and one other thing. We manufacture all our printed plastic cards right here in the North West – we never outsource overseas. It’s the only way we can stay in control of the quality process.

 

 

Printing branded plastic cards? Make the back count

Rocksalt cloakroom tag

Whether you’re getting some membership cards, cloakroom tags, loyalty cards or key tags printed, don’t miss out on the branding opportunity presented on the back.

Most plastic card companies will print on the reverse of the card within the same quoted price, or for a bit extra.

So when you’re thinking about your design, here are a few ways to really make the back count.

Cloakroom Tags – branding, a disclaimer and even sponsorship Benares restaurant cloakroom cloakie tag

The back of your Cloakroom Tags is the perfect place for your disclaimer and Ts and Cs, but also for a message in your brand’s distinctive tone of voice, like Rocksalt’s “If you’ve got this ticket, we’ve still got your stuff.”

Atul Kochhar’s Benares Restaurant uses the back as a sponsorship opportunity – with Cobra taking pride of place. Perfect partnership.

Membership Cards – Fixture lists, sponsorship and member benefits

Rugby membership cardThere’s loads of ways to maximise the opportunity presented by the back of your membership cards. We have a number of clubs that print their fixtures on the reverse and others that promote other club facilities.

It’s also prime advertising space. Offer it up to the right sponsor, and you can Printed membership cardeasily cover the cost of the cards, and enhance your own brand image at the same time.  Think about relevant local partners or national brands that would be interested in the profile of your membership, or even brands that you sell internally that may want extra promotion (for example food or drink providers).

You can also use the back to remind members of the benefits or discounts available to them.

Hotel key card
Or just give a simple instruction!

Hotel key cards

There’s loads you can do here. Promote other services available in the hotel like your spa or restaurant, raise awareness of a special offer or give a discount on a repeat booking.

Carden park hotel key card
Include checkout times, useful numbers and other guest information

You could also use it to remind guests of useful numbers or opening/checkout or breakfast times, like Carden Park in Cheshire does for example.

Loyalty cards

Discounts, offers and text relating to the loyalty scheme are all ideally placed on the back so you don’t have to mess up the branding and design on the front. Put your social media buttons on there too.Printed loyalty cards

Or you could include a guest message encouraging card holders to call to book or pre-order for example, like Kemps Bistro in Liverpool have done here.

Bar tab cards

We’ve all got home after a night out to discover a bar tab card in our pocket. Which can mean only one thing – your bank card isn’t. A message on the back of the bar tab card is reassuring, and can be as fun as you like.

Basically, the back of a plastic card is up for grabs, and if you’re going to the expense of getting cards printed, it’s worth maximising the potential of both sides. You could of course include a QR code, signature strips or include blank panels that you can write members’ details or expiry dates on for example.

Why plastic key tags are our unsung heroes

Branded key tagsMeet our superhero, ‘Mr Adaptable’

They’re dinky. Handy. Always visible. Incredibly adaptable. And very cost-effective.

In our view, plastic key tags are mini super heroes, just minus the capes.

Branded key tags are one of the few plastic cards that can be used for multiple purposes: promotion, loyalty, labelling, information, discount offers, reference: the list goes on.

They’re also highly visible, rather than being hidden in a wallet. They happily dangle off a key ring, reminding the owner of their presence.

And at just £110 + VAT for 250 branded key tags printed in full colour on both sides, they super cost-effective.

Packing a mighty powerful punch for one so small

Branded key tags make great:

  1. Mini loyalty cardsBranded key tag

Add a barcode that works with your loyalty system and make sure your customer never loses out at the point of purchase. Tesco seem to have made it work quite successfully.

  1. Mini membership cards

Forgotten your main membership card? Just show your key tag instead, or save the budget and do away with main membership cards altogether.

  1. Promotional cards

    De Vere membership key tag
    Print key tags to go with your membership cards, or just do away with the cards altogether

Think of your key tags as mini billboards, there to advertise your next promotion or brand message. Use them to advertise your happy hours or special weekly theme nights, or remind customers of a regular monthly event. Or just use it as a branding opportunity.

  1. Discount cards

Remind customers that they can get a discount off their next purchase, on presentation of the key tag.

  1. Staff reference cards

Get key employee information on show, not hidden away in a handbook. Key tags make great reference cards because they’re always visible. Use them to remind staff of key health and safety information, employee standards or processes and procedures.

  1. Helpline reminders

Plastic key tags are easy ‘go to’ reference points for important numbers. If given to key holders for example, you could include telephone details of the alarm company. Or for lone workers, telephone numbers of head office support.

  1. Accommodation Key Holders

    Branded key tags holiday parks
    Leaving blank areas on the design gives you the flexibility to add your own names, numbers or details

We get a lot of orders from accommodation providers, particularly caravan parks and holiday lodge parks, because they’re a great way to add a brand or promo message to sets of keys that are given out to guests. Or leave a blank space to add individual accommodation numbers.

8. Key labels

If you store sets of keys in your office, like estate agents or property maintenance companies do, why not label them with your own branded key tags? They’ll convey a more professional image to your customers, and you can leave a space blank for handwriting your own details on.

One other thing – The Card Network offers free design and artwork on branded key tags.

 

Deck the halls with… printed plastic cards

What do you do with your used gift cards & old printed plastic cards?

We generally have a load of old printed plastic cards lying around (no surprise there).

There are only so many guitar picks we can make, especially given we don’t even play the guitar. And we already have an inexhaustible supply of ice scapers. So we’re always looking for new ways to recycle them.

printed plastic card wreath
Forget the Holly & the Ivy & upcycle instead

Here are a few different ways you can get crafty and put your old loyalty cards, gift cards or discount cards to good use.

1. Adorn your door with a festive loyalty card wreath

Definitely our favourite this one. We’ve started on ours, so we’ll let you know how it goes. But we doubt very much it will ever look as good as this by Lauren Venell.

2. Turn it into a lunch fork

Recycled plastic fork
Handy!

This clever fella came up with the idea of a pocket sized piece of disposable cutlery. Ta Dah! The credit card fork was born. Easy to carry and doesn’t cost you anything. Brilliant.

3. Create some stables for your nativity.

Get the kids involved in sticking together some of your old printed plastic cards to make miniature buildings – the cards make good walls and roofs.

We’ve had a lot of fun making sheds for the sheep, but you’ll note we’re not showing any photos. There’s a good reason for this.

recycled plastic card necklace
A gift for the woman who has everything?!

4. Make a necklace

It’s hard to believe that this necklace is made out of Starbucks gift cards, but it is. You’ll have to put some serious time and care into pulling this one off, but we reckon no-one would know what it’s made of when you’re done.

5. Bookmarks and paperclips

Bookmarks with a difference – good little stocking filler gifts. You can find some templates & how to do it here

printed plastic card plant marker
The ‘green’ green choice

6. Mini blackboard plant markers for the garden

Another great idea this. Get some blackboard paint and a plastic fork and hey presto, you’ve got some funky little plant markers. You’ll have to source a grease pencil though (whatever that is) as obviously chalk isn’t exactly weather proof.

If you’re looking for a few ideas that take a bit less time and effort, here are a few suggestions:

– Cut out some collar stays for your shirts

– Put them in your cutlery drawer – printed plastic cards are great for scraping up biscuit dough or pastry

– Give them to young kids to put in their purses and play pretend ‘shop’ with

– They make great art implements for kids – use them with paint and get them to scrape the paint along the paper

– Put them in the toolbox for the next DIY job, they’re perfect for smoothing on Polyfilla or scraping jobs.

Any other ideas? Have you created a full Noah’s ark out of last year’s gift cards? Please let us know. Oh, and send pics.

 

 

Out with the old…

If you’re about to order your new club cards for the 2014-2015 season, take a minute to really consider what you want them to do before just reprinting last years.

It’s likely they could be generating more value and be performing more functions than they currently do.

 

Club card
Refresh your look: don’t just roll out last season’s design

What would you like your club cards to do?   

By including a range of features, or changing the type of card you use, you can turn them into multi-purpose cards.

If you want to secure access to locker rooms or members-only areas for example, you can easily turn your club cards into ‘swipe to access’ cards.

Or you could turn them into ‘smart cards’, and allow members to use them to ‘swipe’ for their lunch, or access their tab at the bar.

Turning your club cards into loyalty cards encourages more spending from members. You’ll need to think carefully about how you’ll administer a loyalty programme, and how members will accrue and spend ‘points’. Do you want to offer money off purchases made in the club for example, or introduce other retailers to give your members more choice? As well as incorporating the necessary features to turn your club card into a loyalty card, we can also advise on the right loyalty system.

Think about your members. What do they want from a club?

Creating a successful membership programme is about:

–       Showing them you value their membership fee

–       Making them feel welcome when they’re with you

–       Providing them with benefits and perks for being a member

and

–       Giving them more reasons to spend time (and money) at the club

–       Handing them reasons to recommend you to others.

 Get the benefits right

Research your competition to see what they are offering, and better it.

Providing benefits to your members for their fee doesn’t have to cost you much – or indeed anything at all. It’s the feeling of exclusivity that you want to convey. Some perks might include:

–       Free entry to club events

–       Discounted tickets for family members

–       First priority on club tickets

–       Deals with neighbouring retailers, hotels & restaurants just for club members (make these reciprocal so there are no costs involved)

–       Discounts on their own membership fee if they refer-a-friend.

Offering discounts on club food and drink is perceived as a tangible (and very attractive) benefit. You’ll need to weigh up the cost versus the benefit, but it’s likely that it will encourage members who may not normally use the facilities to give them a try. Providing vouchers for members to hand to friends and family is a win-win situation: they feel like they’re getting ‘something for nothing’ whereas you get new customers into the club.

Don’t forget that it’s the simple things that make people feel special. Welcoming a guest by name when they show a membership card is easy to do, and makes a great impression. Especially if they’re with friends.

We offer numbering as standard  

All our club cards are full colour, double sided numbered cards. You can also choose from a range of extra features, such as signature panels or barcodes. Or why not include a QR code to unlock a members-only benefit on your website? 

Refresh, refresh, refresh

Even if you don’t need any new features, or don’t want your club cards to do anything particularly clever, refreshing the design is always a good idea. Don’t use the same design again just because you don’t have someone who can create a new one for you.

Design and artwork is included in all of our quoted prices, so why not ask us to renew the look of the club cards for you.

Our friendly team is happy to advise on the many features of membership cards. Call us on 0844 257 8857 or email sales@thecardnetwork.co.uk

 

 

Spas: theme your printed gift cards for Mother’s Day

If you’re a spa or beauty salon, Mother’s Day is one of the biggest events in the calendar. Spa vouchers or printed gift cards are one of the most popular gifts for mums and grandmas on Mothering Sunday (especially for those who ‘have everything’).

Theme your printed gift cards for Mother’s Day

Rather than giving out a standard card, why not create special Mother’s Day printed gift cards instead? We know they’re well received by mum and the buyer alike – and they’ll be a great advertisement or reminder sitting in your spa window or reception desk.

Customised printed gift cards is easy to do with your own card printer

A plastic card printer is a worthwhile investment if you want to customise your own printed gift cards cards and print them in-house. They aren’t as expensive as they used to be, and for organisations that regularly have a need for plastic cards, the investment quickly pays for itself when compared to using a card bureau (i.e. a provider that prints the cards for you.)

Many spas have a membership programme or loyalty scheme, and so have an on-going need for membership cards or loyalty cards as well as printed gift cards – all of which can be printed using a card printer.

If you’re part of a Hotel or entertainment complex, the printer can also be used to print promotional messages on the back of hotel key cards, or even on staff ID badges.

Which printer?

The printer you choose will depend on the volume of cards you need, and frequency.

For most organisations looking for an entry-level printer that doesn’t need to do anything too clever, or act as a workhorse, the Evolis Badgy fits the bill.

The Badgy is a complete and quick card printer designed to ‘plug in and print’. It’s incredibly easy to use and comes with all the software you need to custom design your own cards. You’ll even find some Mother’s Day templates ready for you to personalise your printed gift cards here. The Badgy is on sale for £585.38, including one year’s warranty.

Mother’s Day falls on Sunday 30th March this year. Don’t forget.

Future hotels: more personal or sold as commodities?

Do hotels need to focus more on offering a personalised service to secure guest bookings in the future, or is the shift more to selling a ‘bed in a box’?

Hotel loyalty cards
Hotel room or commodity?

A recent report from the InterContinental Hotel Group says that post-recession, hotels must focus on offering an individual service to guests in order to be rewarded with their loyalty.

The results of the report are based on a survey of around 7,000 international business and leisure travellers, plus interviews with travel experts. It argues that the advent of personal technology and the concept of ‘always with me’ devices has created a demand for service that is tailored to their individual preferences.

What that personalisation should be varies depending on nationality. UK travellers value the ‘little touches’ in their rooms for example, whereas Americans regard choosing their exact check-out time as more important.

Hang on, just where are they going to get this information?

The sceptics among us are likely to respond that this is just another way for establishments to justify gleaning information about our consumer habits through ‘spying’.

Does this mean hotels will be researching us on Facebook and Twitter after we book? Will they take it from Aunt Bessie’s birthday party photographs on Flickr that I have a particular weakness for chocolate cake? Surely this is just a bit creepy.

Of course hotel loyalty cards can do a lot to record guest preferences, but they can only do so much. And you have to get the guest to sign up in the first place.

But if more hotels are becoming commodities, do we need to be worried?

At the recent Master Innholders GM Conference 2014 in London, the great and the good of the Hotel world debated whether hotels are being increasingly viewed as commodities.

The rise in popularity of OTA’s (Online Travel Agents), flash sales and price-driven discount sites means that guests’ perceptions of hotels’ value and services are changing.

Mark Lewis, managing director of Hotel Rez, commented: “Working with the likes of Groupon is a strategic decision but it does lead to commoditisation of your property and quickly leads to dilution of margins.

Stuart Johnson of Browns followed with: “We have to be very careful at the luxury end. Now at the three-and four-star level, we certainly are seeing commoditisation, especially in fast-moving hotel companies in which the guest basically gets a box and then seemingly has to buy soap, towels, Wi-Fi, service and so on.”

If this is the future for the hotel industry, do we need to be worried about our personal data?

Horses for courses

As is the case with many things in this world, it will depend on the hotel you choose, and the kind of experience you’re after. You wouldn’t find a boutique 5-star hotel charging you to use their soap (or you’d hope not). Nor is a 3-star city centre chain hotel likely to hand you a bottle of your favourite red wine on a repeat visit.

It’s likely that we’ll see a growth on both sides of the coin. You’ll just need to decide which side you’re on in a particular weekend.

Oh, and make sure you review your Facebook settings, just in case.

Read more about the debate ‘Are hotels commodities?’ here.

Introducing our membership cards ‘mini-me’

They say ‘small is beautiful’, and who are we to argue. We’ve just brought out a range of membership cards and loyalty cards that come with a replica key tag for your customers to attach to their key ring.

It means they’re never without their membership cards, even if they don’t have their wallet to hand.

membership cards and key tag
The key tag easily snaps off to be affixed to a key ring

Our cards are rather attached to their ‘mini-me’.

Literally.

We can now supply your membership cards or loyalty cards with the key tag attached. It’s then easily snapped off. It’s a much easier solution than separate cards, is more cost effective and easier to mail. Feedback also tells us that they’re well received by customers.

The next time you’re ordering membership cards or loyalty cards, think about the benefits of key tags. For just a small extra fee, you can ensure your customers carry your cards around with them at all times. And what’s more – key tags keep your brand name visible, rather than hidden away in a pocket or purse.

250 double-sided full colour cards with snap-off key tags start from just £192.75

Should boutique hotels offer loyalty cards?

It’s a question that’s currently being debated by some of the industry’s leading figures on BoutiqueHotelier.com. Are boutique hotels missing out if they don’t offer guests loyalty cards and reward them for their custom? Or should the guest experience alone be enough to secure repeat bookings?

The argument for

Hotel loyalty card
Loyalty cards can be the reason a guest chooses you over a competitor hotel

A number of well-known boutique hoteliers are in favour of introducing some kind of loyalty cards or programme. Tom Rowntree of IHG talks of the benefits of ‘brand reassurance’:

“The power that a brand can deliver is that we can take away the risk of staying at different hotels because we come in with a brand reassurance. Then of course there all the programmes we plug into, such as the IHG Rewards Club loyalty programme, so there are loyal guests that want a risk-free stay and they’re rewarded for it.”

James Lohan, CEO of Mr & Mrs Smith, believes their loyalty scheme is important for securing bookings. It offers money-back on future bookings or a gift, as well as 24-hour support from a booking team. He views these ‘a nice thing to offer guests.’

The argument against

Some hotels feel that they shouldn’t need loyalty cards and a specific loyalty programme to incentivise guests to choose their establishment. The argument is that the guest experience should stand out on its own, without needing to be propped up by the promise of points or rewards on loyalty cards. This is admirable as a sentiment, and is a great brand promise for all staff to live up to. But what happens if a competitor nearby is offering just as good customer service, but with incentives of free room upgrades or spa vouchers?

Make the stay personal to the guest’, is the view of others, including Gary Davis, CEO of Malmaison Group. Rather than offering points, reward the guest with something that you know they like. It’s hard to find fault with the concept, just as long as the mechanism is in place to flag when a guest is classed as a regular customer. Miss the opportunity to reward and you may just find that they have gone off to try a competitor hotel.

One thing is clear – loyalty cards can’t secure bookings on their own

Of course, loyalty cards and programmes will only be effective if everything else is right. It doesn’t matter how many rewards you offer if customer service is poor, your prices don’t stack up or the beds aren’t comfortable. However if you’ve invested heavily in creating a boutique hotel experience to be proud of, a good loyalty cards scheme can help you to secure repeat bookings with minimal investment.

Read more of the debate here

 

Printed plastic cards: check your proof!

If you’re about to order hundreds or even thousands of printed plastic cards, like membership cards or promotional cards, it always pays to see an actual example of the card first, before you hit ‘print’.

Except that you shouldn’t … pay any extra to see one, that is.

Peace of mind that you’re getting what you think you are

The last thing you want is to order 3,000 colour club cards only to find that they’re not as thick as you thought they’d be, or the print isn’t as bright as you wanted. The only way to check the end product is to actually see an example of one of the final printed plastic cards. And we mean your final card, with your design elements and information.

Many plastic card suppliers will send you an example of ‘one they made earlier’ for someone else, in order to avoid the expense of creating a press proof*. Whilst that’s great in terms of showing the thickness, it won’t show you how this card will look with your information on it. Insist on them printing one of your cards for you to approve, and they’ll often hit you with a one-off press charge – often up to £50.

It’s also fairly standard practice to send you a pdf proof to approve on email – just a pdf sheet showing the artwork on paper. This is far from fool proof – how can you sign it off when you have no idea how the final card will look?

We’ll provide a sample of your final card – for no extra cost

We want you to be 100% happy with the printed plastic cards you order. The only way we can do that is to provide you with a sample of exactly how your card will look before we print them.

So if you order membership cards, promotional cards, discount cards, loyalty cards, key tags, hotel key cards, custom printed cloakroom tags, plastic business cards or any other bespoke printed plastic cards – we’ll send you a press proof to approve. Which allows you to sign off the order in confidence, because you know exactly how the final product will look.

To us, it’s just sensible. Which is why we don’t charge any extra for the service.

Some cynics out there say we hide it in the cost of the printed plastic cards. But we don’t – our prices remain some of the lowest on the web.

Search our printed plastic cards.

 

*Just what is a press proof anyway?

A press proof is a card that’s generated right off the printer press. Or in other words, a sample card that’s printed with all of your information on it, so you can see what the finished article will look like.