In the travel business, finance and accounting have typically been seen as part of back-office operations, entirely separate from sales, marketing, and customer relations — even by travel operators that might fill multiple roles. How a traveler was going to pay for their trip was largely dealt with after the sale was made and limited primarily to what credit card(s) the operator preferred.
Digital-first consumers are changing that though. How they pay has become an important consideration in how they travel and which operators they choose to travel with. According to recent independent research commissioned by Flywire, payment choices and processes are now an increasingly important part of buying decisions. Of the over 800 frequent leisure travelers interviewed:
- 89% say ease of payment is important to them.
- 70% say having an easy payment experience impacts their choice of travel agent and/or tour operator.
- 90% say when it comes to paying for their trips, they prefer to be billed and/or pay in their own currency.
- 93% are more likely to choose a travel provider with a flexible cancellation policy.
Companies like Uber, Amazon, and Apple have conditioned consumers to expect the payment process to be embedded into the experience they have with any company. And travel is no exception. Operators can no longer worry about how the traveler will pay after the fact. Instead, payment needs to become part of the overall value proposition they offer up front, or they risk losing customers.
Younger adventure travelers in particular are more digitally oriented and expect convenient, digital/mobile payment options, no matter what they are buying. While credit cards are the most commonly used and widely accepted payment method in the travel industry, now is a good time to consider alternative payment methods as they are often less expensive for you and your guests. These methods may include digital wallets, online currency exchange networks, peer-to-peer payment apps, and local bank transfers (e.g., ACH, SEPA, EFT). By offering a variety of payment options that are familiar to your guests, acceptance rates will increase, and abandonment will decrease, which can also reduce your costs.
Many of these travelers are also looking for operators to split bills for adventure travel excursions with their companions at the time of booking rather than chasing their friends after the fact. Modern payment solutions can automate and simplify this process and present a modern digital image to your customers.
It’s not all about the customer though. Modern payment processes have big impacts on operators’ as well. In addition to reducing payment processing costs and card fees, modern, digital payment solutions also streamline the entire process. In many cases, approximately 80% of the funds adventure travel operators take in from their clients have to be distributed to multiple parties involved in delivering the travel experience, often across borders. Digital processes streamline the process, help manage currency risks, and provide everyone involved with better visibility from end-to-end.
For more thoughts on modernizing your payment processes and your adventure travel brand, visit https://www.flywire.com/industries/travel.
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