by Anant Patel
Not too long ago, payment methods were limited. Now, the constant increase in choices leads consumers to change habits quickly. The payment options travel companies offer their customers can be a major differentiator. If a traveler discovers an Online Travel Agency (OTA) or supplier doesn’t accept their preferred method, they may shop elsewhere.
Deloitte’s Payment Trends 2020 notes that payment service companies have responded to the changing environment with modernization, technology investments, targeted mergers and acquisitions, and partnerships with fintech companies.
For suppliers, the challenge with evolving payment methods can be the adjustments in accounting practices —from A/R to reconciliation. So, what’s a travel company to do to keep up? Find the right payments partners to grow with.
The three key ingredients for a powerful payments collaboration include:
1) Flexible and scalable solutions
Many payment platforms have been incrementally built over the years on legacy technology, which can lead to flexibility, scalability, and performance issues. This technical debt can weigh down a platform and inhibit innovation.
WEX’s proprietary technology can harness massive amounts of data and deliver insights that help each individual customer make better business decisions. For example, having an in-house cloud native global processor (versus using an external third party processor) means customers gain greater flexibility, reliability, and are able to leverage the latest technologies.
2) Technologically savvy services
WEX invests a great deal in technology, including robust APIs to integrate into systems that provide our partners with maximum choice across multiple card schemes with a single front end.
Cart abandonment rates in travel are the highest among all sectors, so travel companies need to be able to offer their customers the latest payment methods—from next generation digital wallets to local payment schemes. Research by PYMNTS.com a few years ago found that the majority of the top international merchants worked in at least six currencies so that consumers could pay in their preferred currency. Over 30 percent of consumers expect travel companies to offer multiple payment options. A former director of global checkout and payment products for Expedia noted, “payment innovation is a huge area [in which] we’re interested, adding new currencies and payment methods, because it’s all about making the experience as enjoyable and easy as possible for consumers.”
3) Responsive and intuitive customer service
A payments services partner needs to be a true collaborator—understanding customers’ current and future needs as well as their unique pain points so they can deliver options tailored to their specific requests. Customized payment solutions need to take into account the tools customers are already using, the processes they have in place, and where they and their suppliers operate.
WEX’s unparalleled experience in the payments space enables us to rethink how payments serve our customers and create the perfect solution.
Payments partnerships today and tomorrow
There are no signs that changes in the payments landscape will slow down any time soon. Payment services companies, travel companies, and suppliers will need to continually collaborate and innovate so they can effectively and efficiently meet travelers’ changing needs.
Ensuring these partnerships are built on flexibility and scalability, technological savvy and responsive, and intuitive service is key to everyone’s success. The Deloitte 2020 report predicts, “forward-thinking organizations will also maintain focus on the fundamentals necessary to survive and thrive in the increasingly competitive payments industry…especially as payments providers expand their efforts to service the needs of many and provide a customer experience that delivers ahead of the curve.