The Travel Tech Show at WTM London 2017 will focus on payment solutions with a dedicated lounge, reflecting not only the importance of payments across the global travel ecosystem but also a desire from last year’s attendees for more insight into this sector.
Payment solutions are relevant across all verticals and in all markets. As the distribution landscape in travel continues to evolve, payment solutions providers are forming a vital role in ensuring that flow of monies between the various stakeholders in the travel process is efficient, reliable and secure.
Any consumer-facing travel business needs to have a payments solution in place that makes it easy for travellers to buy, especially with the shift to online and mobile transactions. However, there is also a growing market for specific business-to-business solutions that facilitate the way that suppliers pay each other, how intermediaries pay suppliers, or how suppliers and intermediaries pay commission to agents or affiliates.
More than 2,000 attendees at last year’s WTM London expressed an interest in payment solutions, with accommodation providers the most responsive, followed by retail and online agents, with a large proportion also coming from tour operators.
The interest is coming from senior executives, with payments capturing the attention of more than 300 chief executive and managing director level attendees.
As an indication of the scale of the payments business, Priceline Group, the world’s largest travel company by market capitalisation, handled 173 million room night bookings in the first three months of 2017 across its brands. This has resonance in the context of how it handles and accounts for tens of millions of consumer payments but also in terms of how it – or indeed any third-party retailers – redirect the payment back to the property owner.
As consumers are transacting more online, patterns are emerging that highlight significant difference between markets. Worldpay, a FTSE-100 listed payment services business, has carried out research into how and why travellers in six key markets pay for their vacations.
It found that that while credit and debit cards are still prevalent, so-called alternative payment methods such as Paypal are gaining traction in mature markets as well as emerging ones.
One important finding of the Worldpay study is the need for international brands to allow Chinese tourists to pay using Chinese methods such as Alipay. With 100 million outbound travellers, China is the world’s largest outbound market and will continue to grow, reinforcing the need for the industry to consider how they will take payments from this segment.
The complexity and scale of the consumer landscape is matched in the business-to-business world. eNett, part of Travelport, specialises in B2B payments for the travel industry and estimates this segment of the market is worth $780 billion a year.
eNett has pioneered virtual account numbers, or VANS, which are automatically-generated 16-digit MasterCard account numbers unique to each booking or transaction, makes it easier to track the payment by connecting to back-office systems.
Simon Press, WTM London Senior Director, said: “Effective payment mechanisms are needed for consumers to buy their trip and for suppliers and intermediaries to pay each other. The Payments Solutions lounge at the Travel Tech Show at WTM London will give the payments industry the profile it deserves at the leading global event for the travel industry.”