The travel industry has been put through its paces in these pandemic times. But with new learnings, smart tech, and resilience it is possible to win hearts and a winning edge again.
How is travel changing
The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Recovery is on everyone’s mind. Recent research has found that ‘improving profit’ is a top focus area for a majority (nearly 70%) of travel agents, airlines, and hotel chains. But it’s not all gloom and doom. Several lessons have emerged in its wake that are shaping the way travel will be happening in the future.
From check-in to checkout to payments, the contactless experience has emerged as a clear winner over the last year.
Alternate payment methods have emerged as everyone’s favoured mode of paying. This includes contactless cards, digital wallets, or QR codes. ‘Buy now pay later schemes’, particularly while shopping for flight tickets, are also becoming popular. Flexibility and peace of mind are what customers want as they plan out their future travel.
Safe and secure
The last twelve months have made customers seek smarter and safer experiences. They wish to be more in control and hence desire flexible ways to deal with this. Making sure customers have an easy and seamless payment experience throughout has become critical. Keeping their data safe is also key to protect and increase revenue from happy clients.
Processing high volumes of refunds was a major challenge that the travel industry faced last year. This put pressure on airlines, hotels, and travel operators as they scrambled to refund millions of dollars’ worth of bookings while customers waited for hours in frustration.
The future of travel and payments
The consensus in the travel industry is that the payment processes for travel need to become simpler. And upgraded. That means building payments processes that enable easy refunds or last-minute changes. Travel companies are seeing the things that customers want and really care about. There is more willingness to embrace realities and reinvent to bounce back quickly.
In the future, the winners will be those who will bridge the gap between customers’ needs and allay their fears. We will see a lot of new tech and processes come out that will pave the way for recovery.
A recent study from Visa found several key trends that will shape the future of travel and payments. Contactless will become a greater part of travel, both as a safety as well as a convenience measure. Usage of e-wallets will increase further, along with blockchain and open banking tech. Flexible buying options, from installments to monthly subscription plans, will make the buying process easier.
Refunds and chargebacks will be quicker and more automated. Safety is big on everyone’s mind: hence more anti-fraud measures will come in.
Why is it important to build a solid travel payments strategy
As a travel company planning for recovery, this is a good time to go back to the drawing board. You could consider building your own bespoke payments to meet the needs of your B2B and B2C clients. This would help you to reduce client pain points and churn and create best-in-class payment products that delight.
In fact, travel companies are looking at creating their own unique products and reduce friction in their payments process. For example, Booking.com recently launched a separate fintech unit that will focus on creating new products for clients.
Build your payments set up to include more ‘contactless’ features for greater safety and ease. Have a seamless checkout process with easy authentication and payment acceptance. This will help you to earn buyers’ confidence and their trust. Robust anti-fraud measures and compliance with regulations are crucial to protect and increase revenue.
Offer more payment options for your buyers to choose from. Support multi-currency payments support and other popular modes like credit cards, e-wallets, etc. Offer monthly installments and/or subscription plans so that buyers can choose how they wish to pay. Create an easy refunds process that is hassle-free and quick for buyers. You can use escrow accounts to handle refunds, and also automate your refunds and chargebacks.
Building your bespoke products is good for business, improves customer loyalty, and cements your market creds. Not only does having your own platform give you deeper insights into your clients’ buying patterns, it also helps you keep them safe and happy.
How to choose the right payments partner
Look for a payments partner who can help you become an agile business, and help you in building bespoke B2B and B2C products. A reliable partner will listen and work around your needs. Here are some tips to go about it.
Choose a payments partner who can simplify your payments. They should be able to support multi-currency payments and all popular payment modes. Look for easy-to-integrate payment interfaces that let you get the best out of every feature. The idea is to create seamless checkouts that are a breeze for clients to use.
It is critical to keep client data safe from hackers. Hence, top-notch fraud management abilities are a must-have. Ensure your payment partner complies with PCI Data Security Standard and other local guidelines in every country of operation.
Another point to consider is how to manage large volumes of transactions. This includes accepting payments and payouts. Look for marketplace and affiliate systems that can automate processes and are easy to set up. This will let you control exactly how you want the system to process and record all your transactions.
Jose Augustine is the Chief Business Development Officer at Novalnet AG with extensive experience in European payment industry and a knowledge powerhouse.