Report: Consumer expectations vs brand readiness
There’s a lot to love about the hotel experience.
Where else do so many obligations of basic self-care disappear? You don’t even have to make your bed and you can order club sandwiches at 4am.
But there’s also a lot that can drive you crazy.
There’s the long queue at check-in. Then, your booking can’t be found because it was made via a third party, or by email instead of their web form, or during a solar eclipse… Then you have to quote your room number repeatedly (was it 351 or 315? - please give me breakfast). Wearing nothing but a swimsuit, you have to find a place to store your credit card because the pool bar is run separately from the hotel reception. And finally, there’s check-out, when you have a flight to catch and you spend 15 minutes messing about with room service tabs.
It’s moments like these that can make or break the experience. And, critically, it usually boils down to the moment of purchase. A few years ago, we didn’t mind having to get out of the pool to sign for our lunch. But technology has made our lives easier and our expectations higher. We can do most things from our smartphones, shop from our social media accounts and pay for a round of drinks with our watch. We’re spoiled - we expect seamless transactions and instant gratification.
Hotels are faced with the challenge of keeping up.
We know that you know this. According to our recent hospitality report, the top initiatives for hospitality businesses and their IT teams are centered on improving the purchase experience. And yet less than one in four report having formal strategies in place for digital transformation.
So what’s stopping you?
Well, there’s a lot stacked against you. If you have properties all over the world, you’re facing a heavily fragmented set-up with a labyrinth of local regulations, partners, technology systems and cultural nuances to deal with. On top of that, you’ve got fraud and card security concerns and the headache of PCI compliance.
It’s daunting, to say the least. But the good news is that hotel payments needn't be so complicated. With the right technology partners, you can start making incremental changes pretty quickly, and the benefits will be ten-fold.
For many, hotel payments is just another step, another system to integrate, and an added complexity to manage. But it needn’t be like that. In fact, when it’s set up right, your payments system should actually help remove complexity by connecting the dots between your various touch-points.
More than that, it’s a crucial element that influences a guest’s experience and can become a key point of differentiation between you and the competition.
Here are 3 ideas to enhance your guests experience with payments:
Local payment methods can be as diverse as languages. For example, did you know that online banking method iDEAL accounts for 60% of online transactions in the Netherlands? And Chinese customers will expect to be able to pay with UnionPay, Alipay, or WeChat Pay.
By supporting these payment methods, you’ll create a consistent experience for guests at any location. You can then recognise return customers and provide the right payment options. You can even offer dynamic currency conversion, where the payment terminal uses the card to detect the customer’s language and home currency and lets them choose the currency they want to pay in.
Self-service kiosks allow guests to skip the queue and check themselves in. Apps, which generate a room key on a smartphone, allow them to check-in from the cab and breeze through the lobby on arrival. This needn’t replace the personal welcome, but returning guests, or those in a hurry, might welcome the choice.
Make it easy for guests to buy drinks, purchase postcards and book spa treatments without having to present their card, enter a code, or sign a bill. You can do this via card tokenization, which is a method of capturing a guest’s card details (during the online booking, or at check-in), encrypting the data, and replacing it with a secure token. This token can then be used for all subsequent purchases. You can even liberate your guests from their cards completely. Once you have the token, you can activate any device that has an NFC tag (this could be a wearable, an access card, or a room key) and the guest can use this to pay. Capturing and storing card details is quick and secure. And, since the unencrypted card data never touches your systems, you keep your PCI scope to a minimum.
Of course, if you prefer, you can pre-authorise the card and top-up the authorisation as purchases are made throughout the stay. So, if your guest is originally authorised for $200 but ends up ordering vintage Cristal for the whole bar, you can automatically adjust the total.
To win a customer’s loyalty and drive return visits, it’s the little details that matter. Room upgrades and fruit baskets can always be provided manually to a small group of elite customers. But it can be harder to show appreciation and stay connected to all your repeat guests.
So let’s talk about payment-linked loyalty.
Credit card tokenization can also be used as a unique identifier. This goes beyond simply recognising return customers. You can tailor the experience to each individual based on their transactions from previous visits. Does their transaction history tell you that they loved your spa’s ‘deep heat mud treatment’? Did they go nuts for your poolside club sandwich? Surprise and delight them by offering exclusive discounts on these items.
We understand that, for you, payments are simply one more data point. Which is why our Unified Commerce solution lets you manage all transactions in one system. We are truly omnichannel, so seamless cross-channel journeys are easy to support, and you can deliver a consistent experience to guests across every touch-point. And you’ll enjoy total peace of mind; we handle all the security and PCI requirements on our side.
Our reporting provides you with a wealth of information to optimise your payments every step of the way. If you’re part of a franchise we’ll provide granular insights at ground level, while head-office gets a detailed overview, and greater transparency into each property.
All major local payment methods are available out-of-the-box with no need for additional partners or contracts, so adding new methods property-to-property is as easy as flicking a switch. And, to make things even easier, we have integration plugins for leading industry platforms.
So you’re free to focus on your guests, and they’re free to focus on enjoying themselves.