Webinar round up: what are the top trends shaping hospitality payments

27 / 06 / 2022

Hospitality Today recently spoke to Worldline’s Kimberley Hoevers about the latest shifts in the hospitality payments industry.

6 min.

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What are the top trends shaping hospitality payments?

The hospitality industry has experienced a significant transformation in how customers pay for services and products. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen cash payments rapidly replaced by credit cards, chip and pin, contactless and, more recently, digital eWallets. But what is the tangible impact of this shift, and how has a change in consumer behaviour mapped out a new era for hospitality payments?

Hospitality Today’s David Weston recently joined Worldline’s Kimberley Hoevers and Ian Hardwick of eviivo during a webinar hosted by Hospitality Today to discuss the latest trends in payments for hospitality businesses what leaders need to know to maximise profit through the right payment technology and management techniques. Here, we capture some of the biggest takeaways from the conversation.

Customer experience is still king

The hospitality industry has always prioritised guest experience. After all, this is what sits at the heart of the trade. That said, expectations continue  evolving, and customers expect more from businesses.

This means that organisations must remain focused on the guest journey every step of the way, and this focus goes far beyond simply what guests experience at the property itself. Ultimately, first impressions are formed  before they walk through the door.

The first step in customers’ payment experience occurs when they make a booking.  Flexibility, convenience, and efficiency are central to making a good first impression. An important rule of thumb for hospitality merchants is that you have two different groups to consider when creating the ultimate customer journey – the early adopters and the traditionalists. Finding common ground to create an inclusive experience for both groups is critical.

A good example of this is having a kiosk available in hotel receptions for early adopters to select a more unattended, digital experience while also having a more conventional check-in facility with a member of staff on hand to help if required. Even in this highly digitalised world – people still like to feel important and respected which makes having a humanly relevant approach significant.

It’s not business as usual

Consumer behaviour has been a significant driving force for change in recent years. So too has the needs and demands of the provider. While we tend to think of services such as contactless or unattended check-ins as a guest-orientated benefit, it also serves businesses in equal measure, particularly as hospitality reservations spike during the recovery after the pandemic.

For example, in the context of a hotel handling a high volume of bookings, checking-in guests – and  providing other services – as soon as possible using a secure payments process should be a priority to hotel professionals.

The rise of omnichannel services

Omnichannel capabilities are more than just a payments dot-connecting exercise; it’s about making sure you are first available across every channel that a guest would expect you to be. Once you have a holistic presence, omnichannel payments orchestration will allow you to integrate eCommerce, mobile, and in-store footprints while harmonising data with processors and third parties.

By unifying these channels, the hospitality industry can gain access to the full breadth of data to provide a consistent, convenient customer experience that is both seamless and secure. With secure payment data available, you will be able to  strengthen the customer experience further, gain a powerful competitive advantage and foster brand loyalty.

PSD2 compliance and tokenisation

A European-wide regulation, the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) has improved customer rights, enhanced security through the implementation of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and provided a framework for new payment and account services by enabling third-party access to account information.

PSD2 compliance is widely understood as it continues to be rolled out. Despite undergoing some challenges, the industry is evidently focused on finding ways to adapt under this new legislative framework. The fundamental aims of PSD2 are largely focused on the consumer's welfare with the security of electronic payment transactions a priority.

Before PSD2 came into force, an Online Travel Agency (OTA) – a web-based agency allowing the consumers to book flights, hotels and other travel-related services online – could ask for a guest’s credit card details as a guarantee without authentication. Now, hospitality businesses can still ask for credit card details as a guarantee to secure permission to trigger a payment, whether immediately or in the future; additional authentication is required when the booking is made.

Another important part of the rollout of PSD2 is tokenisation. Tokenisation allows hotels to securely store their guests' sensitive card data on file safely and securely. The data is encrypted and replaced with a unique code, or ID called a token, which protects it from fraudsters.

The process begins when a guest makes a reservation online – the point at which the token is created. It is stored securely, so the guest does not need to present their payment details again when they check in.

The core benefit of this is that hospitality businesses do not need to be concerned about storing sensitive information, so there are fewer worries about compliance and, meanwhile, the guest can be reassured that their card details are secure. As a customer, this means that when booking the hotel again online, my payment details will already be stored, creating an easier, frictionless checkout experience. In that sense, tokenisation is a simple and secure way to improve the customer experience and ensure continued business aligned with consumer trends.

Payments are a crucial part of the customer’s experience, but they must not be a too conspicuous part of their journey. With tokenisation, there is no interference from the guest after the first time they offered their card details (for instance, while making a reservation on the hotel website).

The token which is generated can be used later by the hotel to perform a top-up, no-show, late cancellation or late check-out. This way of working means more revenue can be generated because guests don’t notice as much when they are spending money.

The same happened during the shift from cash payments to digital payments. With cash you really feel and see what you are spending - with digital payments (debit/credit cards) you notice this less, and now through tokenisation as a cardholder/guest, you hardly notice it at all anymore. That said, tokenisation provides advantages for both the hotels and guests.

What should hospitality merchants consider when selecting a payments system?

There are so many choices on the market you may wonder how it’s possible to pick one payments provider over another. What makes one solution better than the others, how do you know which one is right for you?

First, don’t rush your decision. Changing your provider can be  daunting, so you need to get it right. Do your research properly - have conversations with knowledgeable and transparent potential partners who can answer your questions around pricing and functionality in advance. Choosing someone who can take you by the hand and guide you through the switching process will provide you with comfort and peace of mind.

With the right tools and processes in place, you will be perfectly positioned to provide a frictionless, customer-centric payment experience. This will help you earn positive reviews that will attract more guests and enhance loyalty. Ultimately, it’s a virtuous circle that will relieve many of your daily operational pain points and set you up for long-term success.

About the author

Kimberley started her journey in the company in January 2018, which is 4.5 years ago already.

For her hospitality and payments combine the best of both worlds and she is always on the hunt to create synergies, with merchants and partners worldwide.

When it comes to payments, she stared with a blank page back in 2018, but in the meantime, she worked herself up to being a real Expert as part of Worldline’s Expert Community.

She is as passionate about her job as she is about sushi and she is always open for a nice conversation.