The hospitality industry is continually evolving to raise standards and offer an enhanced range of services. Of course, as the standards develop, so too do the associated expectation of guests. In our technology-driven society, this means a seamless booking, check-in and payment experience in the hospitality industry. When it comes to payment, stability of services and usability for staff and guests alike are of even greater importance than in other service businesses. As a result, hoteliers and restaurateurs need to examine all their processes in order to keep abreast of competition.
Here, Marianne Bregenzer, Head Global Key Account, SIX Payment Services (SIX), explores the changes in the payment industry and what areas the hospitality sector needs to consider when partnering with a provider.
The payments industry is developing at an exponential rate and consumers expect to be able to settle their bill in the way which best suits them. The days of paying via cheque are numbered and in its place, recent data from MasterCard shows that contactless spending in the UK has increased by 326% year-on-year. On top of this, in January this year, there were 6.2 million card transactions in hotels in the UK alone.
Of course, for any business within the hospitality sector, your guests are of prime importance. Accordingly, it is important for your payment provider to provide services which are tailored to best suit your customers. No two businesses are the same and hotels and restaurants must work in conjunction with their payments provider to develop the most appropriate solution: be it the number or form of payment terminals, the integration into the booking and restaurant management system, or seasonal spikes in activity. Full integration of fast and secure POS and online channels is a must, and with e-commerce continually evolving in the worldwide economy, hotel solutions need to go far beyond credit card payment at the time of booking. There are a range of solutions which can be tailored to suit hotels – such as automatic check-in at the room door through a combination of the systems for reservation, payment and access control. On the catering side, internet bookings for delivery services are booming. In this area, it is even more important that services are simple, fast and safeguarded against fraud and chargeback.
In the payments industry, we are seeing mobile payment continue to rise, so partnering with a provider who is both adaptable to change but also cognisant of the ongoing developments in this industry is key. With more and more customers opting to pay via their mobile phone, the requirements for efficient and safe user experiences will continue to grow rapidly, with consumers expecting to be able to use this form or payment in any given situation. Indeed, it won’t be long before mobile commerce becomes standard for consumers, particularly in markets with a high foot-fall and low customer engagement. It will soon be the norm for those holiday-makers out skiing to order and pay for their meal via their phones while they are in the cable car, meaning that their food is waiting for them at their table when they enter the venue at the mountain top. Not only does this eliminate cash handling and queueing time but it also means restaurants can increase their turn over, reduce their service staff, meaning they become more independent from weather conditions, and the skiers can get back to the slopes much faster. There is no denying that mobile commerce will provide a much more streamlined overall operational efficiency.
Foreign customers typically prefer to pay a bill in their own currency. Not only is this easier for them to understand, but it also frees them from worrying about currency fluctuations or conversion rates. Via DCC (Dynamic Currency Conversion), we are able to handle all current cards and manage the transactions in any required currency. As well as adding value to the customer, this also provides the hotelier or restaurateur with a source of improved profitability.
In addition to your customer-facing needs, a payment services provider must also facilitate clear accounting practices for your back office. These financial reporting tools should provide an overview of all card-based payments and any related fees, as well as gathering payment data such as customer origin and peak hour behaviour. This additional data will allow you to see any cross-selling potential, target market opportunities or operational efficiencies.
Service is a core selling point within the hospitality industry – it is what people expect, appreciate, and are willing to pay for. The payments industry is in a position to help enhance these levels of service through offering seamless and innovative payment solutions. Both industries are working hard to develop the capabilities in these areas. Hopefully lessons learned can also be a benefit to many other industries as well.
Marianne Bregenzer, Head Global Key Account, SIX Payment Services firstname.lastname@example.org
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Image credit: Grand Ferdinand Hotel