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News Affecting the Accommodation Industry

Reducing payment friction in challenging times

As the business world regains a sense of normality, the accommodation sector still needs to mitigate safety risks, including carefully rethinking check-in and checkout processes and any area that requires the exchange of cash or credit and debit cards.

Robert Tedesco, Vice President and General Manager of Global Merchant Services, American Express, says that operators should focus on things within their control in times of disruption. 
For some, this means investing in new safety technology or customer service training. While for others, it might mean updating offerings to reflect changing customer tastes. While these things are significant, it’s essential not to overlook the transaction experience.  

“Customers want a frictionless experience when making a payment, where they are free to use whatever payment method they want without fear of penalty or rejection,” says Robert.
Businesses that create a frictionless payment experience stand a better chance of improving customer satisfaction and loyalty when considering that two in three Australians (68%) use less cash in favour of contactless and mobile payments.  

“Our research proves this: customers are more likely to abandon a cart if their preferred method of payment isn’t accepted when they go to pay,” confirms Robert.

For the past 14-years, American Express has worked with the Accommodation Association to assist and advise members on the importance of payment choice for customers and highlight that any payment barriers can lead to missed opportunities.

Accepting all forms of payment not only increases the chances of a repeat guest – but it streamlines business operations and enhances consumer spending and loyalty.

American Express card members, for instance, have an average transaction size that is 1.6 times that of other credit cards. With an American Express card, members can earn points, access offers and rewards in return for their spending. There are also incentives for them to seek out businesses that accept their preferred choice of card.

For all these reasons, accommodation providers should let customers know what payment options are available on their website and with clear signage at the venue. 

“Our card members regularly tell us that they’re delighted when such signage is clear from the outset, and our accepting merchants also notice the difference,” says Robert. 

Last year, American Express ran a campaign to encourage Amex accepting businesses to clearly display Amex logos and imagery. Participating venues saw a 24% uplift in the number of new Amex card members coming into their place of business, and a 17% uplift in the number of Amex transactions.  

The cost of card payments has also reduced over time. Thanks to several partnerships American Express has formed, including with Square and CBA, the cost of accepting American Express is no different from other credit cards. 
American Express continues to work with the Accommodation Association to encourage booking and spending in the accommodation sector. For example, Shop Small has transitioned into a year-round movement, incentivising customers to spend where it is needed most. Traditionally held in the lead up to Christmas, this year’s shift to an always-on initiative aims to assist small businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Commenting on the partnership, Dean Long, CEO and Executive Director of Accommodation Association says: “Our long-standing partnership with American Express shows that they are a true advocate of the accommodation sector. American Express’ domestic travel and Shop Small Offers incentivise travellers through the doors of accommodation providers, encouraging them to spend at a time that is crucial for the sector.”
Dean also emphasises how critical it is that businesses do not inadvertently spoil the closing moments of a stay by limiting their customers’ payment options. 
“Accommodation providers, including small regional motels, caravan parks and the large hotel groups, are investing heavily in delivering a great experience,” says Dean. “But, if you are not letting your customers close their transaction how they prefer, then it creates a challenge. We need to get rid of this friction and offer more flexibility when it comes to this customer touchpoint.” 

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