The travel industry is cautiously optimistic for this summer amid a surge in bookings as travel restrictions are being lifted. This trend further reinforces hopes that the hospitality industry will continue to recover from the pandemic.
Customers will want to take full advantage of a newly recovered sense of freedom, for both business and leisure travel. A recent survey of 4,700 respondents from 11 countries around the world, conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), showed that 86% of respondents expected to travel within six months of the crisis ending, with 72% wanting to see much-missed friends and family. The survey showed people are now confident about travelling and the measures put in place to keep people safe.
Another recent IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 destinations revealed the growing access to destinations now available to vaccinated travelers. It’s likely that we will see a strong resurgence of travel this year – and the hospitality industry needs to be prepared, by investing in their payment infrastructure.
The road ahead
The hospitality sector in a post-pandemic “new normal” environment is likely to see two specific characteristics:
Firstly, some significant changes have appeared in the demand landscape as a result of the pandemic, and these changes are here to stay. Decision-making has become more complex and may include elements such as cancellation policies, health and hygiene, online ratings, requiring professionals to get creative with offerings by allowing flexible changes and cancellations, and adapting loyalty programs.
Secondly, digitalization and innovation – to enable an improved seamless journey for our customers – will become more than ever a necessity for many hospitality venues. Consumers are spending more time online and expect merchants to offer contactless technologies and digital solutions, including mobile apps, voice commands as well as AI and robot technology.
Eight key trends
Finding the right payment system for their business arguably may help hospitality professionals make the best of the industry’s recovery. Indeed, a well-suited and adaptive payment infrastructure enables businesses to manage their staffing issues by allowing them to do more with less people. It allows them to rebuild relationships with their customers, to understand those customers better and to provide them with the services they need at the right price. It also enables them to manage hygiene and sustainability factors and provide clear reporting to stakeholders.
To achieve all of these and more, there are eight key payment trends which are specifically aimed at the hospitality industry.
- Frictionless payments – offer customers a simplified, personalised and seamless experience and hospitality groups need multiple touch points to allow customers to pay in the way that’s best for them (for example at check-in/out).
- Engage customers through loyalty and gamification, thereby rebuilding relationships with guests.
- Alternative payment methods such as WeChat and Alipay – they are booming and therefore should be integrated into payment services.
- Full integration – Every hotel should have a fully integrated payment solution connecting payment with the hotel PMS system, that sits at the heart of everything they do – from reception to the restaurant(s) and from the minibar to the concierge.
- Value added services to deliver an enriched customer experience in-store – such as all-in-one Android terminals that allow groups to order and pay for their food with no need for any other device and even splitting the bill amongst diners.
- AI – by analysing customer data, payment systems can help hospitality venues better understand their customers and their preferences using AI.
- A 360º integration of eCommerce – Clients now expect it to be seamlessly integrated into their customer journey, from researching and booking online to paying for additional purchases during their stay.
- Omnichannel solutions – which give hospitality customers the freedom to choose the channel that works best for them. They can make transactions in-person or online, pay with just a tap of their finger, and everything is linked seamlessly in real time. Tokenisation is also emerging as a key method to enhance the customer experience.
Hospitality professionals, and hoteliers in particular, will need to future-proof their business. The sector overcame significant challenges throughout 2021, particularly in travel, however it was able to recover well in the second semester, despite temporary restrictions, of which the expected soon-to-be removal will further accelerate the much-needed recovery of the hospitality industry.
To ensure they are fully onboard this recovery, hoteliers should consider getting the right payment processing in place. Effectively, this means centralising every aspect of the payment journey in a fully integrated way.
This may be a significant investment, but it will provide significant benefits to hospitality professionals, as it will help them to improve their service offering at a time when staff are hard to find and gain valuable insights into their customers when traditional loyalties have been hard to manage. This will ensure they can build a better and more sustainable business for the future.
Now more than ever, hospitality operators must anticipate the full recovery of the sector by upgrading their payment infrastructure and invest in innovative new systems. This will help drive revenue and meet the changing needs of customers, who been experiencing increased digitalisation and demand the most convenient and seamless methods of payment when away.
There are five key priorities hospitality professionals should keep in mind when making their choice:
- a seamless check-in/check-out, fully integrated with PMS
- implement biometric payment (which reduces fraud whilst enabling contactless transactions)
- modular solutions (which allow hotels to pick and choose the options that work for them)
- AI and machine learning
- In-app payments for ancillary services (such as room service and concierge services).
Find out more about Worldline’s Hospitality solution here: WL Hospitality Suite - Dedicated Payment Solution(worldline.com)