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Are you looking for ways to improve your hotel’s booking rates? Do you want to tip the scale from Online Travel Agency (OTA) bookings to bookings directly on you website? If so, then you need to beef-up your technology to meet the expectations of travelers. And, an important part of that technology upgrade is an online integrated payment system.
A recent study shows that 80% of millennials use the Internet to find a hotel, and more than half wouldn’t book a property if its website was difficult to use. 49% put off making a booking if they couldn’t do it instantly online.
This is important as millennials make up the largest living generation in the United States today. They have grown up in the Internet age and have embraced technology. They are comfortable shopping online for every type of purchase they make, including hotel rooms. However, they have high expectations of technology. The online reservation process must be quick and convenient. Antiquated, non-integrated systems won’t cut it with this generation.
Read on to see the many benefits an integrated online payment system brings to your property and your clientele.
1. Improved Direct Bookings
If you’re a smaller hotel, you’re probably thinking there is no way you can compete with OTA technology. Before you throw in the towel, consider that 50% of OTA users visit the hotel’s official website before booking. This is your opportunity to make sure they stay on your site and book directly with you rather than the OTA.
With integrated online payments, you can incent direct bookings by offering a discounted rate for paying in advance. The discount you extend could be less than the commission you’re paying an OTA. As a result, visitors may be more likely to stay and book on your website.
A second application for your integrated online payment system is enabling guests to check-in early by paying a separate fee. This could be an option only available to guests on your website – further differentiating you from the OTA.
Southwest Airlines has done something similar for years with its Earlybird Check-in program. For an added fee, the airline will automatically check in the passenger at the designated time. This improves the likelihood of receiving a better boarding position.
Linking these activities to your loyalty program gives your guests yet another incentive to book directly on your site.
One note to keep in mind: if you are taking prepayments online, please be aware that advanced sales have different oversight by the major card brands. The article below goes into those details.
Related Article: Mastercard Upping the Standards for Businesses with Advanced Sales
2. Streamlined Check-In Process
If you have already collected the guest’s credit card number and billing address, you won’t need to repeat this process at check-in. This reduces the time your guest has to spend waiting in line and standing at the front desk.
Integrating payments in your Property Management System (PMS) also allows you to implement an express check-in area where guests can simply grab their key and head to their room. This is a great way to reduce the line at the front desk.
3. Contactless Online Payments
There’s never been a more important time to have a contactless payment option than right now.
During the pandemic, a payment process that requires contact is not ideal. It can make both your employees and guests feel uncomfortable.
Thanks to online transactions, your payments can be fully contactless. They book online, they pay online, and they’re sent a digital receipt.
4. Additional Outlet for Cross-Sell/Upsell
If you have different amenities available for purchase, online integrated payments make it possible for your guests to quickly and easily add them. Examples include, parking, workout facility, access to onsite or local spa, or in-room refreshments upon arrival.
You could have front desk staff review the list of available amenities upon check in, but often guests are arriving after a day of travel. They may be tired and less receptive. Offering them online while they’re sitting in the airport or on a plane may make your guests more open to the add-ons.
5. Reduces Back-Office Errors
Integration of payments with your PMS means a fully automated payment system. You’ll experience fewer billing errors, fewer human errors, and will lessen the risk of losing the information that you need.
Since there is no double handling of payments, it will also help save your hotel time and money in its business model.
6. Improves Your Guests’ Experience
As you well know, the hotel business is all about how you treat your guests. Consumers pledge their affinity to a brand based on their experience. An integrated online payment system can provide a better (and streamlined) customer experience.
You will be able to offer a faster, smoother guest checkout, along with paperless transactions. This can improve your brand image, showing your guests that you’re focused on improving the guest experience from start to finish.
The online payment option also gives more methods to pay and can store card data for all of your repeat customers to use at a later date. Again, this makes the experience seamless and convenient for your guests.
Check Out Online Integrated Payments Today
If you’re a small or medium hotel, an integrated payments system may sound daunting, time consuming and expensive. But, it doesn’t have to be.
Wind River works with scores of properties as well as integrated software providers. We can help point you in the right direction. Send me an email or reach out via our contact us page, and we will be happy to assist you further!