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Gift money is precious this year.  Don't be too quick to spend yours!

Hi.  I'm Captain Ron, and I want to share a money saving secret with you.  (At any time you may click the link above to get to our home page)

What most people don't know about balloon ride gift certificates is that about 30% of them are never redeemed.

This is rarely as a result of  the balloon company selling the gift certificate, but more often the choice of the recipients.  Fact!  Many people who receive these gift certificates have absolutely no interest or desire to fly in a balloon.  However, it is sometimes comical to see what people will often do, not to offend the gift giver.  Here's a true story.

One weekend I received a call from a couple who wanted to come out to our launch site,  simply to "observe a balloon operation."  They even volunteered to help crew for us.  Always looking for extra hands, plus a way to promote an interest in ballooning, how could I have said no?

After the flight, we all toasted with champagne.  Being quite pleased with the efforts of our mysterious volunteer crew, after our passengers left, I made sure that they both received an extra helping of champagne.  This proved to be an effective pour.

Minutes later, (perhaps somewhat under the influence) they confessed to the fact that they were holders of gift certificates which a friend had purchased for them from our company.  They also made it quite plain that they had no desire to fly in a balloon and that their sole purpose that day was to witness just enough of a balloon operation so that they could convince their friend that they had actually gone on a flight.

To make a long story short, I told them that their certificates were not only good for two years, but also fully transferable to other individuals or a charitable organization (which in fact they eventually opted for), and that I would be happy (if ever asked) to embellish and recant the true tale to their benefactor, of a wonderful flight with two brave souls.  In the end, they couldn't stop saying how much fun they actually had, just crewing.  Go figure.

NOW, here's a more practical option for balloon ride gift giving.

If you would like to purchase a gift certificate for a friend or friends, I will sell you one (or however many) for the total price of five bucks.  Then, once (and only once) they have placed themselves on the passenger (not crew) schedule, I will come to you for the actual payment.  Its almost like making a charitable pledge that you can gracefully back out of.  Even after you have paid in full, there is still a liberal refund policy which allows you to get most or all of your money back if your recipient chooses not to take the balloon ride.

This way, you will know that your gift did not go to strangers or charity, and you will otherwise have the option of gifting your friends in a less adventurous way (minus five bucks, of course).  Below is a sample of the gift certificate which we have been using for the past seven years.  It is printed on high-gloss card stock, enclosed in a gilded envelope and mailed directly to you.

In closing, I wish to share with you the fact that two years ago (in my infinite gratitude) I purchased for my orthopedic surgeon, a $250 gift certificate to the most exclusive continental Italian restaurant in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  To my knowledge, he has still not cashed in on this gift certificate.  When I politely cajole and ask him why he has not yet done so, his only comment is that he will get around to it, "soon enough."

Spend your money wisely!
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