The traveler of today aspires to stay continuously connected, both online and offline. They expect the same kinds of experiences at hotels as from airlines and retail stores. And they want to be able to book via their preferred channels and pay using their preferred payment methods.
As global hospitality brands look for ways to satisfy these evolving guest demands, payments shine out as an area of opportunity. Smart services and capabilities once considered optional (like mobile check-in) are now quickly becoming mandatory in a pandemic-recovering world.
How can hospitality businesses keep up? Here are three ways flexible payments technology can help leading brands deliver five-star experiences for their guests.
The case for digital transformation in hospitality
While mobile technologies had already changed the guest experience in many forward-thinking hotels before the pandemic, adoption in the wider industry lagged. As our 2019 survey found, fewer thanone in four hospitality businesseshad a digital transformation strategy in place.
As a result, many hotels had to accelerate their use of mobile solutions as the pandemic progressed. While many of these were deployed as a way to stay open and compliant with changing COVID-19 regulations, now things like contactless payments are table stakes.
It’s not just market pressures forcing hospitality brands to change,it’s guests, too:
65% of travelers in the US believe accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travelers feel safe.
62% of guests prefer to use check-in and/or out via hotel app (versus only 8% preferring check-in/out at a public kiosk).
52% of travelers are excited about tech’s potential to further personalize their travel experiences in the future.
When it comes to payments, guests looking for convenience want to see options like alternative payment methods, touch-free experiences, and mobility woven into their stays at hotels. This means that in order to offer the best experience, payment methods offered on the website should be consistent with those offered at the hotel. Integrating apayment systeminto main systems (such as their PMS) also helps in automating laborious processes in daily operations.
As guest demand for flexible experiences grows, several payment platforms have emerged or transformed their offerings to help hospitality businesses succeed. That’s because paying for a stay, meal, or amenity has historically been the friction point felt most by guests.
Today, payments are the industry’s greatest opportunity. And brands don’t have to sacrifice their luxury factor to achieve it. Guests want to choose the right journeys for themselves, so providing options like self check-in is actually going the extra mile they’re looking for at a hotel.
How to give guests a fast, easy experience without compromising the service element:
Offer tap and pay with digital wallets (such as Apple Pay or Google Pay),contactless cards, and things like NFC-enabled wristbands to make it easy for guests to feel safe and secure.
Delight guests withQR codesand help them view menus, hotel announcements, or enable them to pay at the table from their smartphone. The versatility of these boxes are a boon for hotels.
How they’re doing it: Raffles Hotel Singapore
Legendary service and an amazing guest experience are whatRaffles Hotel Singaporeis best known for worldwide. Always looking to take things to the next level, the iconic property partnered with Adyen to implement truly contactless check-in and check-out for guests in 2020.
Thanks to tokenization, the hotel is able to securely capture credit card details, encrypt the data, and replace it with a secure token, ensuring faster and safer check-out options for guests. This includes secure check-out and payment via a phone call, an option which has seen a 90% take-up rate since its debut.
Payments technology removes manual work for hotel staff
The most obvious benefits of a payments-centric approach are felt by guests. But there’s plenty to love for hotels, too, especially when they work with a forward-looking partner who can remove PCI scope, centralize all channels and regions, and simplify reporting in one place,like Adyen.
Another win for hotels when it comes topayment innovations is automation. Things like the ability to produce paperless invoices and integrate payments into booking engines reduce the time spent by staff on manual tasks, freeing them up to focus more on guests.
Other ways flexible payments technology helps hotel operations run smooth:
Simplified reconciliation and reduced human error, thanks tointegrations with key partners(including PMS, booking engine, channel manager, POS provider, and more).
Efficiencies in restaurants and bars through faster checkout via order ahead, dining loyalty, and pay-at-the-table or pay-at-the-counter with a guest’s payment of choice.
A drastic reduction in the finance team’s workload by eliminating the need for a night audit, closing terminals, and bank settlements that tally with sales revenue.
How they’re doing it: citizenM
Fast-growing boutique hotel brandcitizenMfocuses on delivering design-forward luxury with surprising affordability in major cities around the world. Guests and staff save minutes at every check-in and check-out, thanks to automation through self-service kiosks in every lobby.
In addition to less paperwork at reception, citizenM is also able to make travel even more convenient for guests with card tokenization. For guests wanting to purchase a drink or meal, their room card is an additional form of payment as they can simply add it to the room. Using Adyen also means citizenM has a unified view and management of payment data 24/7, regardless of channel or country.
Payments technology turns insights into loyalty-driving incentives
With the right payment solution, hotel brands can accomplish larger goals such as integrating all properties, regions, and channels with centralized reporting. Consolidating these views into a central location puts valuable guest data on history and behavior within easy reach for sales and marketing purposes.
The value really kicks in when brands can turn their data into actionable insights by creating multi-faceted guest profiles that capture things like home location, frequency of stays, loyalty program memberships, and service preferences. Such knowledge is a must for guest retention.
Unifying sales channels and properties with one payments solution lets hotels:
Gather insights into payouts, number of chargebacks, types of payment methods, and transaction volumes across channels.
Get a better understanding of how the business is doing, from guest behavior to channel and location performance.
Build loyalty programs that are personalized to guests, based on their actual preferences and past behaviors.
Offer cross-sell and upsell opportunities based on guest preferences and history.
How they’re doing it: NDM Hospitality
NDM Hospitalityis an innovator in the travel and dining industries whose brands include the Margaritaville Orlando Resort, Encore Resort at Reunion, The Bear's Den Resort, Beach Walk Resorts, and BurgerFi restaurants. They see payments as an opportunity to simplify operations.
NDM Hospitality’s partnership with Adyen gives the brand a holistic, consolidated view of all data – which they then used to enhance customer experiences. This includes their Spire Loyalty platform, built for other like-minded hoteliers with regard to property management services.
In hospitality, payments are key to winning and retaining guests
The last thing any hospitality business wants to overhear is a guest say, “Remember how long we waited to get into the hotel bar? Let’s try someplace else.” And now that guests are accustomed to frictionless, customized experiences in other industries, they are more likely to choose hotels that deliver them.
The silver lining here is there’s a massive opportunity to set the bar. Hospitality businesses who rise to the challenge of developing digital payment solutions will reap huge returns in guest satisfaction and repeat business. The right payment technology can elevate the guest experience, deliver repeat guests, and grow the overall brand.