Travel, it’s time to reinvent your customers’ payment journey
By Augustin FioriDirector of European Sales at Modulr, the payment platform for travel technology partners and online travel agents.
When a single event like Covid-19 happens once a century, “good enough to get by” isn’t good enough. Suddenly having to manage an overwhelming number of refund cases in the travel industry at the height of the pandemic showed how broken the travel payment infrastructure was.
As people are much less hesitant to travel, they will seek out the conditions that best suit and protect them. Delivering a great customer experience has never been more important. And a poor and fragmented checkout or refund experience will send customers on a one-way trip to competitors.
As we have all experienced, any plan can change overnight. It’s time to revolutionize travel payments by removing the cash flow from outdated systems and replacing them with more control and transparency. As the travel industry continues to rebuild, it has never been more important for travel companies to have a solid and reliable payment infrastructure in place to retain and attract new customers.
No room for offline payments
Research shows that the checkout experience is vital for today’s customers, and they have no problem switching to competitors who do it well. Consumers of all ages have high expectations for the speed and delivery of payments. The problem is that most travel companies’ payment infrastructure is simply not set up to deliver the kinds of payment experiences that digitally savvy people expect.
In an attempt to meet rising expectations, companies often fall into the trap of introducing new technologies in a piecemeal fashion. As technology is added, the stack becomes more complex and, importantly, more disconnected. This disconnect is costing businesses more than they realize. Payment inefficiencies also lead to hidden costs that impact business agility, customer, employee and supplier experiences, and ultimately the success of the business itself. In fact, 78% of customers agree that there is no excuse for online brands to have outdated and inefficient checkout processes.
Many save and plan endlessly for vacations, so there’s even more frustration when repayments take too long. Consumers expect instant payments, immediate refunds, and super-simple processes. If faced with an interrupted customer journey, customers will jump ship and take their travel funds elsewhere.
Reinvent travel payment journeys
We live in the “digital now”. And travel agencies need to quickly improve their customer offerings to stay competitive. Active travel businesses such as online travel agencies, booking sites, and airlines need to realize that they will miss out on new features if they attempt to modernize practices and processes. They must start by creating a payment infrastructure that provides convenience, speed, and security to customers.
The travel payment revolution will keep travel merchants happy and informed while giving customers the flexibility they want and need. For example, many travelers currently want to change their reservations at the last minute – one of the major behavioral changes initiated by the pandemic. This practice would be penalized by pre-pandemic pricing strategies and airlines had to adapt accordingly.
Flexibility is now a top priority, and customers want peace of mind knowing they won’t be left behind or responsible for additional costs should the unexpected happen. As a result, consumers are increasingly paying with credit cards that offer travel insurance and chargeback options. In addition, naturally, health and well-being have become a priority. As a result, travelers are increasingly using contactless cards and digital wallets as an additional security measure throughout their vacation.
These changes are fueling digital innovation, which has long played a key role in the evolution of the travel payment industry. The rise of in-app payments, the growing use of digital wallets by travelers and the use of innovative technologies were becoming more common as the pandemic approached. It is now clear that the pandemic has accelerated an evolution of digital channels that was already underway.
PaaS is the answer
Today, Payments as a Service (PaaS) is a convenient option for businesses of all sizes looking to meet the ever-increasing expectations of the digitally demanding consumer. And, just as PaaS is helping reinvent the way consumers browse, shop, and bank, it’s also helping travel companies reinvent the customer journey by leveraging the latest innovations in payment technology.
PaaS makes it easier for travel companies to integrate payments into their proposal and reinvent their technology stack, without additional cost or complexity. The deep integration of payments into systems creates simpler and faster processes. It also means simple, personalized and fast overseas payments, which is extremely important in the industry. When payments need to be made in multiple currencies and countries, this speed and simplicity is essential.
Payments are an integral part of the travel experience. In order to meet high customer expectations, travel companies must integrate innovative and secure payment services into their proposals. This will deliver the convenient, easy-to-use experience of the demanding digital dreams of today’s travelers.