The ever-changing global world as we know it was paralysed by the pandemic two years ago and the hotel sector was, and still is, one of the worst affected. Two years in which, with temporary exceptions, it has been paused, but never still.
The sector has worked hard to adapt to the new post-pandemic reality, meeting new demands and addressing its digital transformation to automate and optimise processes and reduce human interaction. And while there are customers who continue to prefer a personalised service, many prefer to reduce waiting times and go forself-check-in and check-out solutions without affecting the level and quality of service.
If there is one thing that exemplifies the journey that shapes the user experience in this sector, it is undoubtedly the journey, which begins before leaving home and ends upon return. According to Worldline, more than 60% of consumers expect to travel again as they did before the pandemic.
This is especially relevant in the case of business travel, where 96% of users are willing to return to the original format. And, in this returning travel industry, efficiency, simplicity, and flexibility at the time of payment, which is one of the key elements of the customer experience when contracting any service, are undoubtedly fundamental aspects that users are increasingly requesting.
Hotels that want to accelerate the recovery should be aware of the main payment trends that will accompany the generation of business in 2022. Here are a few of them.
E-commerce systems will continue to be and, if possible, will increase their relevance as a key factor in contracting, booking and payment, both through search engines and establishment websites.
In this sense, omnichannel solutions that give users the freedom to choose the most convenient booking/purchase channel are very relevant: in person, via the web, by phone, from the Smartphone... or by initiating the process in one channel, confirming it in another and paying in a third. By increasing the number of points of contact with customers, their shopping experience is unified. Retention rates reach 90% when there are multiple sales channels1.
Invisible payment systems, typically via smartphones, are gaining market share as they offer a convenient and easy experience and are based on reliable digital technology and a secure environment.
Another trend linked to the current situation is the increasing need to reduce contact during checkout. This is achieved, for example, by using unattended digital kiosks which, in addition to avoiding potential contagion, eliminate queues and speed up check-in and check-out.
Likewise, including alternative payment methods such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, QR codes, or cryptocurrencies, which are increasingly in demand, expand payment options and facilitate payment, making it faster and more secure and improving conversion rates.
As we have just mentioned, security, real and perceived, is decisive within the payment process. Achieving trust requires, above all, hyper-personalisation in the relationship with the customer. It is essential that customers are fully aware of their options and new developments, using all tools and channels in a coordinated manner and without unnecessary repetition and errors.
As an additional element, it is crucial to have a loyal customer under loyalty and gamification programmes, and, for this, the hotel industry must offer personalised and flexible quality services because, according to Worldline Hospitality Trends whitepaper, a 5% increase in loyalty can increase the average profit per customer between 25% and 100%. Moreover, for 69% of consumers, the choice of hotel depends on the possibility of using these programmes, which also drive and generate loyalty and brand advocacy.
At the same time, customers demand efficiency and simplicity when it comes to payment, and for this you have to offer an end-to-end payment method, and a unique experience that puts them at the centre of the ecosystem, regardless of the relationship channel and payment soloution chosen.
Within this framework, incorporating value-added services such as terminals that allow ordering or booking any of the hotel's services and their subsequent payment landscape in a simple, fast and secure manner offers the customer an enriched perception of their stay.
Finally, it is essential to mention the concept of DCC or dynamic currency conversion. In a sector that is going to recover foreign visitors, often users of a different currency, it is very important for hotels to be able to offer through all their channels this functionality that allows the end user to know in real time, and with their prior authorisation, the exact amount to be paid for the service received in their own currency.
In conclusion, 2022 should undoubtedly be the year of the hotel sector's recovery. The industry must be able to provide an agile and secure response to the consumer's changing demands, adapting to new scenarios that allow it to increase its competitiveness. The use of flexible, innovative payment tools, developed exclusively for the sector, provide hotels with a high added value of interconnected services that boost business generation.
To manage all these needs and unify them into a positive customer experience, at Worldline we understand that it is very important to be able to work with a single supplier that covers all the key points, whether terminals, payment gateway, acquiring services or dynamic currency conversion, as this simplifies and optimises the management of hotel collections.