By Craig Brightly, Head of Sales at Trust Payments
The modern travel and tourism sector is facing a significant labour shortage. Covid-19 had a significant impact on the airline industry, with monthly air passenger arrivals in the UK plummeting from 6,804,900 in February 2020 to 112,300 in April 2020, resulting in a 98.3% decline. According to the ONS, the hotel and travel agency industries had the greatest drop in turnover during the first nationwide lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020.
Now, after years of delaying travel decisions, a sense of normalcy has returned, with global foreign visitor numbers more than doubling (+130%) in January 2022 compared to 2021. Nonetheless, businesses in the industry cite supply chain capacity, closely followed by recruitment and retention of staff as their largest impediments to recovery.
In the face of changing demand dynamics and future opportunities and threats, a more sustainable and resilient travel and tourism sector can and must be built. To provide operators with a solid, reliable system, innovative technology solutions aimed at automating payment procedures, cutting costs, and saving time are vital.
So how can this be done?
Secure end-to-end payment solutions
Payments in the travel industry are rapidly becoming increasingly digitised in response to consumer needs for ease and choice. These innovative payment systems aim to provide the highest level of consumer convenience and satisfaction by receiving and processing payments via various methods, including online, in-store and smartphones
End-to-end encryption is the process of encrypting card-holder data for the duration of the payment transaction. This means the data is protected as soon as the card is touched or inserted into a payment terminal. Using end-to-end systems in your business provides your customers with an extra layer of security and a secure payment terminal for travellers during their booking process. By connecting the entire booking journey through mobile transactions, businesses will be able to implement customised traveller engagement plans using geo-locational targeting tools.
Using safe and encrypted payment methods when processing holiday bookings or for last-minute bookings and cancellations reduces the risk and exposure to data breaches and fraud. According to UK Finance data, non-cash payment methods account for more than a quarter of all UK payments.
Businesses must ensure that the payment process is seamless. Whether ordering in a restaurant, booking a hotel room online, or using an app to pre-order a ticket for a tourist attraction, customers should be reassured that they can pay conveniently and safely.
According to statistics, 2 billion individuals chose digital payments in 2020 alone, demonstrating that effective, safe, rapid, and reliable payment solutions are vital to the success of the tourism sector, which contributed to over £133 billion to the UK economy in 2019.
Implementing customer-first payment systems creates memorable experiences on and offline. However, a lack of customer payment choices may result in lower sales, harm your business’s reputation and may cause your organisation to appear redundant, outdated, and reluctant to adapt to customer demand.
All-in-one payments: Multi-currency and multi-language
As e-payments are increasing faster than ever, global e-commerce merchants face a slew of potential concerns. With exchange rates rapidly changing and accelerating international markets, using a multi-currency payment system will not only prevent chargebacks caused by cross-currency price disputes but will also save customers time and effort.
The nature of international exchange rates is one that constantly fluctuates, which can be incredibly frustrating for your customers if they aren’t paying or booking in their local currency or language. If you’re not offering your product or service in the local currency of each region you’re selling in, you could miss out on a profound opportunity for growth.
The importance of multi-currency lies in the ability to enable 100+ currencies and manage all of your subscriptions from a single dashboard. When you offer multi-currency prices, your customers don’t have to pay extra fees for currency conversion, which also has a positive impact on your sales.
Customer retention management
According to HubSpot, a 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by 25% to 95%, which demonstrates how important it is to the tourism business and should be prioritised in strategy. A thorough client retention plan can also help travel businesses survive and grow in the current climate, with enormous cost savings, increased brand loyalty, and word-of-mouth referrals.
Using digital payment methods to boost client retention and upsell prospects is recommended for an improved customer experience. Because it is so easy to become distracted and narrow your focus on sales and acquiring new customers, focusing on the loyalty of your existing clients is vital owing to the foundation of trust that has already been formed. The reality is that you are more than simply another company; you are one that is trusted with their money because of the value you provide.
Digitising payments in tourism
Digital payments are a critical enabler of travel, cash flow preservation, and revenue growth.
Travel operators cannot afford to sit on their laurels if they want to capitalise on the travel boom we are currently experiencing. Rethinking payments will allow online travel businesses to save money and make the customer experience more frictionless.
Innovative payment methods will provide customers more flexibility to pay in a way that suits them and serve as a launchpad for new product offers that will generate new revenue streams and help your company become more resilient.