By Cristine Sommers
Technology has been making aspects of everyday life easier, and now consumers are using new and alternative technology to make paying for goods and services simpler. Buyers now are using smartphones and other mobile devices during transactions, all while paying for items through alternative methods.
Hotels can attract more guests and make the payment process easier when they use innovative technology to accept new and alternative payment options. Understanding what your customers want and how to help make their payments easier is critical. Some of the ways in which technology makes payments easier for hotel guests include:
1. Guests Can Have Multiple Payment Options Technology has changed the way consumers pay for goods and services, and now hotel guests expect to have a variety of payment options available to them. They have moved beyond paying with cash or charging fees to a card. Tech savvy hotel guests want alternative ways to pay their bill, and hotel owners should be inclined to accept multiple forms of payment. This can make the payment process easier for guests and helps the hotel to receive payments in a timely manner.
Hotels should be capable of accepting various payment options when someone books a room online and when someone pays in person. Most hotels now accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards for transactions online and at a stationary point of sale. These are some of the most convenient ways travelers pay for lodging fees, and accepting them can help your business appeal to a large audience. Other consumers, however, want more options.
When booking rooms online, guests want to be able to utilize internet payment companies like PayPal or one of its dozens of online payment competitors. This technology allows people to make financial transactions online by granting the ability to transfer funds electronically between individuals and businesses. This option generally appeals to consumers because it is secure and widely accepted.
Additionally, some consumers may feel more inclined to use payment options like bitcoin, a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate and verify the transfer of funds. Travel sites like Expedia, Inc. already have been accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for hotel purchases. These alternative payment methods give consumers more options to pay and allows them to select payment methods that they are comfortable with using.
2. Guests Can Pay Quicker with Mobile Payments With consumers becoming more and more reliant on mobile technology in every aspect of their lives, customer-initiated mobile payments is a growing trend that has been catching on throughout the hospitality industry. Mobile payments can offer hotel guests a convenient and easy way to pay when, how and where they want without having to wait in long lines.
One common form of mobile payment is the wallet, which allows customers to download a single app on their device and use it at multiple businesses. Apps like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, two of the most popular wallets on the market, are convenient for consumers because all of their information is kept in one single app.
Some hotel chains already have been implementing mobile payments, including Marriott International, Inc., which announced last year it would become the first global hospitality company to offer Apple Pay. Guests can use Apple Pay at check-in with their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch near the contactless reader at the front desk. When the device responds with a vibration and beep, the payment information has been securely captured.
Other hotel companies have been experimenting with how mobile payment technology can be beneficial in more ways than one. Texas-based hotel company Omni Hotels currently uses Google Wallet for its loyalty program and is planning to extend its offering into the payment portion. Combining loyalty programs with mobile payment options and vice-versa has contributed to the increase in the mobile payment trend.
3. Guests Can Check-In and Pay Effortlessly Offering paperless check-in and payment options at terminals in the hotel lobby also could make the payment process easier for guests. This self-service option is similar to kiosks that airports have implemented, allowing travelers to receive their flight information immediately and effortlessly without the assistance of an employee. The self-service trend has been moving throughout areas of travel, and now the hotel industry is beginning to be on board.
When hotel guests book and pay for a room online, they still have to sign papers and spend several minutes at the front desk when they arrive. Not only does this cause a delay for your employees, it becomes an inconvenience for the guests. Eliminating this part of the process and allowing guests to check in and pay at their own pace could make them feel more in control of their time and could boost guest satisfaction.
Through self-service kiosks, hotel guests can check in, encode a room key, check out and obtain a receipt — all without having to wait in line at the front desk. This check in options enables guests to digitally read and sign registration cards on a small screen, which can be personalized and can offer upgrades to guests. Now, employees can function less like a cashier and can be free to provide a high level of service in other areas of the hotel.
Conclusion These are only some of the ways technology can simplify the payment process in the hospitality industry because they methods are constantly growing and evolving with technology itself. The best way to determine which payment practices would work best for your hotel business is to determine what interests your guests. You should learn what complications they experience when trying to pay for boarding and research how technology can help alleviate those issues.