As omicron nearly wipes out the delta variant with less severity and the demand for travel comes roaring back into focus, hoteliers and business owners in the hospitality business face a new travel environment riddled with obstacles that can’t be avoided.
For nearly two years we’ve seen how labor shortages, COVID variants and ongoing supply chain disruptions have hindered travel plans, and now people are more than ready to leave home for an overnight trip. In fact, 57 percent of consumers say they are “very” or “extremely” likely to book a hotel room in the next 12 months—if the consumer experience is up to their expectations.
It’s a new year and travelers are ready to give hoteliers their money, and while that’s good for business, hoteliers are failing to get ahead of key nuances in payment systems before more reservations come rolling in. Without proper preparation, the innovative front business leaders are striving to achieve could be what causes the next disruption within the hospitality industry.
Here are three ways hoteliers and business owners in the hospitality industry should prepare for the wave of hotel guests and their desired payment experiences in 2022 and beyond:
1. Take Any Payment Method of Choice
The intersection of the pandemic and contactless technologies has resulted in a plethora of payment options, throwing assumptions of how guests will choose to cover their travel out the window. Hoteliers should be thinking of how to get ahead of consumer preferences and expectations when it comes to paying the final bill.
Gone are the days where commerce is only limited to paper (cash) and plastic (credit cards). From the growing number of cashless businesses to the volatility of digital currencies, hoteliers that fail to expand their payment options will fall behind at a faster rate than before.
2. Allow Guests the Technological Advantage
Guests want to be empowered to travel and pay with the advantage of convenience. Hotel operators need to offer guests the ability to skip the line and ensure their personal safety by enhancing the hotel’s technology and commerce capabilities. This added advantage comes from expanding and investing in new solutions for enabling contactless payments, instituting refund and chargeback protections, and providing effortless reservations and meaningful transactions from start to finish.
These guests will expect the same from hotels as they do from e-commerce: a seamless experience where payment happens with the click of any button on any device. Another snag, or the opposite of a seamless experience, could set any hotelier back and potentially impede guests from traveling again in the near future.
3. Re-evaluate and Choose the Right Payments Partner
The support hoteliers need to combat payment obstacles and nuances is widely available—they just have to know where to look. Rather than onboard a new IT team, hotels should seek out the payment and commerce technology partners that can offer choice, advantage and convenience to both the consumer and the business.
Finding the right payments technology partner will strengthen property-management systems and keep hoteliers’ top priorities to manage rising costs and chargebacks at bay. When shopping for a payments processor, prospects should include a team devoted to resolving—and preventing—chargebacks, as well as full support against any disputes that arise and determination to enhance the commerce experience for the guest and the front desk.
Inefficient partnerships won’t just result in an increase in transactional issues but unsatisfied guests, legitimate and fraudulent chargebacks, security breaches, and inevitably, lost business.
As commerce becomes closer to “invisible” through the interconnectivity of apps, websites and even television, the approach to how everyone—consumers, business leaders and hospitality staff—thinks about payments is going to evolve.
The hoteliers and business leaders who add payments to their to-do lists will better prepare for the future of commerce, and in turn, the return of excited guests and eager travelers. With the right commerce and payments technology partner, the hospitality industry can embrace the changing landscape and navigate the nuances of accepting payments to provide a better and more modern experience that consumers demand.
Ashley Usher is chief integration and information officer at Fortis. Raj Pannu is VP of business development for lodging at Fortis.