INDUSTRY TRENDS

3 ways to provide a better payment experience for your guests

Kevin Goddard

By Kevin Goddard | Published on November 9

A beautiful room with an amazing view. 

The thoughtful in-room welcome set-up and personalized attentive service. 

Sounds like the perfect stay, right?

But what if it starts or ends with a clunky payment process? 

Payments affect the overall guest experience

Think about the check-in, for example. Do your guests have to wait for a front desk agent to manually type the credit card number into your property management system? 

Does check-out take ages because staff needs to verify and manually add bills from different outlets? 

As you can imagine, these scenarios put a damper on the guest experience, and since they occur at the beginning and end of a guest’s stay, they’re likely to leave an impression. 

Payments and reconciliation can be a waste of time for your team

There’s another important aspect to consider – how much time does your team spend taking, managing, and following up on payments? How often do they lose time correcting errors or reconciling payments with guest profiles in the PMS? These processes can take a huge chunk of time out of your staff’s day without adding any extra value to the guest experience or your business. 

New expectations regarding payments post-pandemic 

In light of the pandemic, the payment process has gained extra importance. According to research by McKinsey, guests are keener on using contactless services and payments not only because it’s more convenient, but also because it’s safer. 

A 2021 Skift research survey found that 50% of guests expect contactless payment options at their hotel, up from 35% from the year before. The same report noted that 67% of hotel executives admitted that the pandemic pushed them to adopt new technologies.

Also, worth noting is many teams have become smaller post-pandemic due to labor shortages in some areas, making a reduced workload even more important for some businesses. 

So, how can you change your payment process to improve your guest experience, streamline operations, and ensure quick, safe transactions? 

How to create a positive payment experience for your guests

Today’s guests expect a modern, frictionless payment experience that works seamlessly in the background and doesn’t demand extra time and attention. In the end, the ideal payment experience is one that the guest doesn’t have to think about at all – it should be a non-event in their overall stay.  

For them, waiting in line during check-in and check-out or repeatedly presenting their credit card is no longer an acceptable occurrence. 

Seamless, integrated payments are becoming the new normal for properties of all sizes. Integrated payments are connected to your hospitality management system, keeping all of your guest payment data in one system. So whether a guest books their stay on your website using your booking engine or they make their reservation on an OTA, all of their necessary payment data is available in one place in your PMS. This allows you to reduce payment processing friction for your guests while offering them more flexible, convenient, and safe ways to settle their bill. 

Implementing this new payment process is also good news for your business operation. Integrated payments take a big administrative burden off your team’s shoulders because everything is automatically and seamlessly synced to the guest profile in the PMS. This includes all your guest’s transactions – from booking their stay online to on-site payments for add-ons and settling their bill at check-out by inserting or tapping their card or using their mobile wallet on the integrated payment terminal. 

Now, manually entering the guest’s credit card details (and all the related risk, awkwardness, and potential errors) is finally a thing of the past, as is spending hours of time each month reconciling payments.   

Modern travelers prioritize convenience and simplified processes that leave them more time for the fun parts of their trip. Here’s a closer look at how you can shift your payment experience to make spending money at your property easy and frictionless for your guests. 

1. Allow guests to use their preferred payment method and currency.

Guests want flexibility, ease, and a localized experience when it comes to payments. In addition to traditional payment options, like using their credit card, properties should also expand their options to include newer methods, like contactless payments and mobile wallets (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) 

Depending on your property’s location and your target market, you may even want to consider offering specialized payment options, like WeChat and Alipay. According to a recent study, 92% of Chinese tourists traveling to Europe said they’d be more likely to pay with smartphones if more local merchants supported Chinese mobile payment solutions. 89% claimed this would encourage them to shop and spend more money locally. 

The same study found that U.K. merchants who have embraced Chinese payment platforms have seen tremendous benefits. 88% of them say this has helped market their stores and consequently boost revenue. 

As you can see, offering a wide range of payment methods creates a welcoming, familiar experience for guests that can boost spending

 

2. Streamline the guest payment experience from start to finish

The ultimate goal for hotel payments is to have a smooth omnichannel experience. For example, a guest would be able to enter their credit card or another payment method online and they would expect to have a deposit charged, or at least authorized, for a certain amount of money. And then, when they show up at the hotel, they would expect the property to know about that payment, to be able to say, “Would you like to use the same payment method or a different payment method?” 

At the very least, you should upgrade your payment experience to eliminate the need for manually entering credit card information into your PMS. Manual card entry will cost you time lost in reconciling errors and can make guests feel uncomfortable since their payment data is exposed. 

With the new hotel technology and trends available today, there’s no reason why guests should have to wait a long time during check-in and check-out. With the right tech stack, you can let travelers check in and provide their preferred payment method before they even set foot in the hotel. Self-service kiosks can be made available to guests who prefer or need to handle the formalities on site. New mobile key applications and digital access solutions allow for keyless entry and a completely contact-free arrival and departure experience. Your payment solution can now play into this low-touch guest journey as well. 

Finally, the more of your transactions you can move online, the closer you’ll come to a paperless operation. So many paper receipts land directly in the bin anyway. So why not email or text them to your guests instead? This option gives guests the choice of whether or not to print their receipt and they no longer risk losing their only hard copy. 

 

3. Deliver peace of mind by ensuring safe and secure guest payments

In addition to creating a smoother payment experience, hoteliers and hosts are also responsible for keeping their guests’ payments safe and secure. That’s why it’s so important to choose a payment processing provider that follows all recommended payment security and compliance measures. A payment provider that enacts European Payment Directive 2 (PSD2) and uses Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), as well as 3D Secure, offers travelers the highest level of fraud protection, making them more likely to trust you with their business and payment details. 

Here again, integrated payments are important for your business because when you have all of your payment data available in one place, you can do things like check the status of a guest’s reservation and identify if their credit card authorization failed to process the required deposit. This way, you have time to contact the guest to process their payment or put the accommodation back on the market.   

Infographic
Follow the guest payment experience journey from pre-stay through post-stay.

 

Building a simple, frictionless payment experience with Cloudbeds

With the right partner, it can be quite easy for your property to implement integrated payments.  

For example, Cloudbeds Payments now has an integrated payment solution with state-of-the-art terminals that makes payments easier in four key ways.

First, it simplifies payments, offering a unique, hospitality-focused solution for various property types and countries around the world. You can finally say goodbye to time-consuming manual reconciliation, the risk of human error, and long waiting times for your guests – turning payments from complicated and labor-intensive to easy and streamlined. 

Second, it syncs with the Cloudbeds platform, which means all your payment data can be accessed in one place. This applies to tracking both the data related to the guests and the payments related to that guest. So, you have refunds, voids, disputes, and everything else, all in one place. 

Third, Cloudbeds Payments comes with state-of-the-art terminals that support a wide range of contactless and flexible payment options. Now, you can rest assured that all your transactions are fraud protected, and SCA, PSD2, and 3DS compliant. On top of that, Cloudbeds’ expert team is there to provide you with best practices on issues like payment disputes and chargebacks. 

Lastly, the system allows your hotel to communicate more hospitality-related relevant data with every payment. This gives the bank issuing the payment more confidence in each charge and reduces your risk during a dispute. 

You now have the opportunity to save costs by streamlining your operations while also creating a better, safer, and less invasive payment experience for your guests. That’ll give you back time and energy to focus on what you care about most: offering travelers an unforgettable stay. 

Ready to provide a better payment experience for your guests?
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About Kevin Goddard

Kevin Goddard

Kevin is Head of Payments at Cloudbeds. He’s worked internationally in the payments industry for the past 25 years. His career has spanned issuing and acquiring, and he’s been more recently focused on adding payments value to the SaaS industry.

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