Upfront costings, enhanced payments security and personalization frills are what may rejuvenate the post-COVID-19 travel market.

All things being equal between two travel services, would you select one over the other simply because one of them offers a better payment experience?

According to one study commissioned by travel solutions provider Amadeus, 70% of travelers surveyed said a good payment experience would get their business.

According to the analysis, travel and payment trends are colliding to drive new behavior. For example, 74% of people in the study now book travel less than two months before departure, and millennials are more than twice as likely to do so than those over 55. When it comes to meeting the payment expectations of this growing group of late bookers, the top criteria are price transparency, a wide choice of payment methods and superior transaction security.

Amadeus claims that the study is showing the payments process represent a significant opportunity for the industry due to this trend. While new innovations such as ‘pay by instalment’ were particularly popular with millennials, 66% of all travelers surveyed confirmed they would be more likely to buy with an instalment option and 56% said they would purchase higher-value services if they could spread the payments.

As the average traveler now relies on more than four different payment methods throughout their trip, it is clear why 38% of travelers in the study cited payment method choice (e.g. cards, bank transfer, e-Wallets) as their number one requirement. However, what matters even more is transparency, with 47% saying unexpected fees, charges or foreign exchange surprises are a major point of friction.

Bart Tompkins, Managing Director, Payments, Amadeus commented: “I’m confident that 2020 will be the year in which… we see a significant step forward in delivering a frictionless payment experience in travel. However, with 75% of travel firms still finding it hard to offer a simple and consistent payment experience there’s work required to deliver on travelers’ desire for greater choice, transparency and security.”

Regardless of whether the trends discerned by the report are perennial or fleeting, the industry does need to deliver a frictionless payment experience. In that regard, the study proffered a range of recommendations:

  • Improve payment choice at checkout by regularly monitoring traveler payment trends at a local market level and having a process to continually test different payment methods locally.
  • Boost transparency by integrating multi-currency conversion so travelers gain ‘price certainty’ in a currency they are familiar with, and by clearly displaying any charges up-front.
  • Build trust by clearly communicating the steps taken to secure your customers’ data and by having a robust two-factor authentication process in place.
  • Empower last-minute buyers by using open-APIs and cloud to deliver rich, fast and reliable payments as well as personalizing the payment methods you offer a traveler during the trip.
  • De-stress travelers with automated and pre-booked services by ensuring ancillary services like baggage or lounge access are offered pre-trip, and by providing ‘book-now, pay-later’ options so people can enjoy the moment, but also by modernizing payments in areas like the airport.

Businesses interested to make better-informed decisions about how to meet rapidly changing traveler payment demands can read the report, ‘Frictionless travel payments: from complexity to competitive advantage’ and decide what information is relevant for their business needs, especially since the coronavirus outbreak has complicated the travel landscape immensely since the study.