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Comment: Use payments to gain a competitive advantage

Work closely with your payment services provider, says John Harris, vice president of travel at emerchantpay

The year 2020 was challenging for the travel industry and tested the operational resilience of businesses of all sizes.

UK travel agency businesses saw one of the sharpest declines compared to other sectors due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first national lockdown, monthly air traffic to and from the UK fell 98.3%, from 6,804,900 in February 2020 to 112,300 in April 2020.

The pandemic has generated volatility in the travel sector, and as a result it must now improve its operations to accommodate an increasing need for security around bookings and payments.

Research by McKinsey predicted travel will soon become the second most desired activity among consumers globally. In order to ensure recovery, travel firms must focus on growth in preparation for the sector’s revival. With this impending boom in interest, offering secure bookings and optimised risk management alongside a smooth and efficient payments process will help businesses gain a competitive advantage to better serve customers.

The pandemic acted as a catalyst for digitisation across all sectors with consumers quickly becoming acclimatised to receiving online services at one click. Travel businesses must innovate to ensure they are not left behind. One way to do so is offering real-time bookings and a reliable payments infrastructure system with near-zero downtime.

To achieve this, organisations must look for PSPs that offer an integrated, user-friendly and centralised platform. With travel businesses back in charge of managing flight, accommodation and activity bookings, a simplified and diverse range of payment options provided through a fast, real-time and mobile-ready booking system will be key.

It is important for merchants to work closely with PSPs’ travel and technology teams to enable options and services that suit the required business model while helping navigate complexities. This, in turn, alleviates pressure from payments so businesses can focus on growth.

For travel businesses, and even more so for start-ups, it can be challenging and time-consuming to find the right PSP that meets all commercial requirements.

Shifting traveller behaviour following the pandemic is one example of a challenge that a PSP with the right experience can help its customers navigate. With growing demand for flexibility, cheaper options for refunds, and last- minute changes, it is imperative the chosen partner stays up-to-date with evolving travel guidelines and has a thorough understanding of how new rules may affect travel payments.

Travel businesses must partner with a holistic and integrated payments provider who have the technology and expertise to increase payments performance.

By working closely with PSPs, travel businesses will better understand how to optimise their business models, tailoring their services to meet the specific needs of each customer.

Like any online business, dealing with fraud is paramount for the travel sector, particularly as a result of the steep increase in fraud incidents since the pandemic.

So it is crucial to consider a payments partner that can leverage the latest, cutting-edge risk prevention tools to work in tandem with existing, in-house measures.

emerchantpay for example, recently partnered with travel startup TripGiant to support its business growth. TripGiant was keen to ensure its security measures met the expectations of travellers today, in order to promote brand loyalty. To meet these needs, TripGiant leveraged emerchantpay’s advances anti-fraud capabilities.

Every business is different, so the exact security and fraud prevention solutions will need to be tailored to individual needs – and the payments partner can offer guidance on this.

As parts of the world slowly open up their borders, the travel industry must be prepared to innovate its operations to accommodate a tech-savvy and cautious consumer base, in order to facilitate sustainable growth.

The travel industry is full of complexity when it comes to payments.

But for travel businesses the right payment service provider that combines market knowledge and a holistic payments experience will enable payments to become a commercial advantage rather than just a simple necessity.

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