The field of hospitality was transformed by the Covid. The lockdowns prompted customers to purchase online, while health reasons were driving the adoption of frictionless payments and other connected apps for check-in without contact at the reception desk. Traditional face to face sales or cash payments in hotels and restaurant vanished in favor of credit card. But it had also promoted the rise of E-wallets - mobile wallets - like Apple Pay, Alipay, Moneo in France, Clearpay in UK, Twint in Switzerland, or M-Pensa in Kenya.
However, when it comes to payments with existing systems in hotel management, there are several issues especially for the booking process: global acceptance of various wallets, client no show despite a reservation, mistakes with credit card information (5% of transactions), fraud to stolen credit cards, even sometimes malicious customers claim they didn't stay in the hotel and ask for a refund from their credit card. Therefore, quite a bunch of companies from the fintech side are helping to solve those issues. One is called ECOMMPAY, they are in partnership with the chain Accor hotels.
They provide a platform where the customer has his credit card data registered and verified. Then, the client has to approve each transaction using the 3D payment security system. Like when you pay at Uber, you just give your credential. No matter from where the customer makes his reservations those systems have to be global. At checkout, the client gets the summary of everything that was consumed and then can pay directly. Everything is paperless. For the reception it is a virtual terminal. For the booking desk it is a proof of an existing transaction even if the client does not show up. Else with new apps you can also open the doors with the mobile phones or have the menus printed out in the hotels.
Client acceptance of these solutions is not a matter of technology, it is about the client experience, reinventing processes. Most of the time, if the client understands the benefits, he will subscribe to the innovation. And this even though the system analyzes the customer's behavior. This is no different than tracking the client through a loyalty program. Among rewards, the client is aware that he can get the advantages of a personalized service on his/her preferences. Knowing the customers help a lot in terms of analyzing their needs, what they like and their dislikes, and this can be then translated into a way to perform better.
The cost of those solutions is presently too high for individual independent hotels. Over time technology becomes cheaper and it could also be adopted. Note that it is not bad to let the big players test these fintech companies until they mature and then once everything is proven that it works properly. It is also the case with the blockchain. Though lots of expectations are behind blockchain, at this moment, we lack easy-to-implement applications for hospitality.
Of course, in the future, the blockchain will be able to connect different platforms because it's more secure, it's faster and it's also peer to peer oriented, applying the technologies for verifying transactions, and simplifying transactions for direct reservations without middle booker. It is like the payment by token, it will take hold the day the crypto money is stable and less volatile. In everyday business life, innovation is mostly a process of incremental change.
Les Roches Global Hospitality Education
Phone: 41 (0)27 485 9600
Albian Albrahimi is a lecturer in finance at Les Roches Global Hospitality in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. He holds a PhD in Financial Accounting from the University of Neuchatel. His research focuses on both determinants and economic consequences of accounting decisions. Specifically, his research interests include bank accounting, new IFRS Standard implementation, financial instruments and Hospitality Financial Modelling.