Research indicates that consumers are increasingly gravitating toward easy and convenient payment solutions when booking accommodations.
Recent findings from Visa’s Global Travel Intentions (GTI) study underscore the growing reliance on digital payment methods in the travel sector. A significant majority of Asia Pacific travellers now prefer using credit, debit, and prepaid cards as their primary payment method when on the road.
This shift towards digital payments has been particularly pronounced in the post-pandemic era, reflecting consumers’ desire for safe and convenient payment options. The study revealed a remarkable decline in the number of travellers carrying cash during their trips. Post-pandemic there has been a 60 percent reduction in the number of travellers bringing cash with them.
In 2023, only 31 percent of respondents reported carrying cash, compared to a substantial 79 percent in 2020.
The reasons behind this dramatic shift are manifold, including the wide acceptance of cards by merchants, heightened travel security, and favourable foreign exchange rates when using digital payment methods.
Danielle Jin, Head of Marketing, Asia Pacific, Visa, commented on this changing landscape, stating: “We are witnessing a significant shift in travellers’ behaviours and payment preferences post-pandemic, with many opting for safe, digital, and touch-free payment methods.”
She emphasised the importance of digital payments in enhancing the overall travel experience and highlighted the need for the travel ecosystem to support local businesses in providing secure and contactless payment solutions that align with the preferences of today’s travellers.
Accommodation providers can benefit from this trend by offering a range of digital payment options to cater to travellers’ preferences, ultimately enhancing guest satisfaction and streamlining the booking experience.
Payments for guest satisfaction
On the benefits of embracing digital payment solutions, Duncan Waterman, Business Development Manager -Payments at RMS Cloud, shared some insights: “In today’s dynamic hotel landscape, advanced automation technology has shaped the direction in which we now accept payments from guests. The right payment technology ensures a swift and secure payment transaction that provides guests with a seamless payment option, enhancing their overall stay.
“Time is a precious resource for operators. Automation not only accelerates guest transactions, but it also liberates staff time.”
Key factors in consumer preferences for easy payments:
- The importance of convenience: 80 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by a leading hospitality research firm, cited convenience as a crucial factor when choosing accommodation. This includes not only the ease of booking but also the simplicity of the payment process.
- Mobile payments on the rise: Mobile payment options are gaining traction in the accommodation sector. With many guests now expressing a preference for mobile apps or digital wallets to make payments during the booking process.
- Abandoned bookings and complex payments: A complicated payment process can lead to a significant number of abandoned bookings. When guests encounter difficulties or multiple steps during payment, they are more likely to abandon their reservation and seek alternatives with easier payment options.
- Guest reviews and payment experiences: Online reviews and guest feedback are increasingly highlighting the payment experience as a key factor influencing overall satisfaction.
- Payment security and trust: Accommodation providers that implement secure payment methods and communicate their commitment to data protection tend to gain the trust of potential guests, resulting in higher conversion rates.
- Personalisation and payment choices: Guests appreciate the flexibility to choose payment methods that align with their preferences, whether it’s credit cards, digital wallets, or other options.
- Cross-border travel and currency preferences: With the rise in international travel, accommodation providers are recognising the importance of accommodating different currencies. Studies have shown that guests from abroad are more likely to book accommodations that allow them to pay in their own currency, reducing the complexity of currency conversion.
With consumer preferences tilted towards easy and convenient payment solutions, it’s the accommodation providers that invest in user-friendly payment processes, offer mobile payment options, prioritise payment security, and provide personalised choices that are better positioned to meet guest expectations and drive higher booking conversions.
To ensure a seamless experience, Mr. Waterman recommends: “When evaluating the right payment technology for your property, I always ask, how well does it integrate with your PMS? I often highlight the power of being able to seamlessly combine convenience and personalisation to connect with the modern traveller.”
Mandy has over 17 years of accommodation and tourism industry writing experience and is Editor of AccomNews & Resort News, Publisher of SchoolNews & Director of Multimedia Pty Ltd. She is a retired registered nurse with a 25-year NHS career that followed a few unforgettable years in hotel housekeeping.