Guests are twice as likely to experience anxiety and uncertainty when making hotel payments than in making everyday payments at home, according to a new Amadeus report.
The research, conducted among travelers in the United Kingdom, the United States and Brazil in Q2 2022 by psychological research agency Innovationbubble, finds that 40% of survey respondents report challenges paying at hotels, with one-third of hotel guests saying they were unable to pay with their preferred payment method during a recent stay.
“Imagine staying at a high-service hotel and not being able to pay with your card or the digital methods you use every day, like PayPal or WeChat Pay,” says Jean-Christophe Lacour, Amadeaus’ head of product management and delivery.
The experience, he says, sours guest perceptions of their hotel stay, attributing the situation to “longstanding fragmentation in the hospitality sector.”
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According to the study, consumers are far less likely to associate hotel payments with positive feelings like “ease” or “convenience." Thirty-nine percent of respondents report feeling anxiety that their payment to the hotel might not go through. Fifty-four percent say they notice when it’s difficult to make a payment, and 77% believe it’s the hotel’s responsibility to make payment easy.
To facilitate easy payment, 66% of travelers say the hotel should have their card on file, while 90% believe they should be able to check their expenses in the hotel’s app - features common in the current digital economy and among online travel agencies but not among all hotel brands.
Amadeus says payment problems are particularly acute for Chinese guests, who prefer to pay with WeChat Pay, AliPay or China Union Pay cards, but may be forced to pay in cash or find alternative local methods when traveling. Or the Chinese guest may decide to book through an OTA rather than directly with the hotel.
“Unless hotel chains enable guests to pay easily and conveniently using their preferred payment method, the industry is likely to cede further influence to third-party intermediaries that are increasingly making payments a priority,” Lacour says.
“Any hotel brand that’s serious about building a closer, more meaningful, digital relationship with its guests must also get serious about payments.”
Improving the guest payment experience will also help hotels to pursue more attribute-based sales, according to the report. Hotels can keep the guest’s payment details on file, making it easier to merchandise offers in the window before the guest checks in, perhaps via the hotel’s app.
The study also notes that the hotel industry is slow to adopt payment innovations such as buy-now-pay-later services, which allow guests to pay in flexible monthly installments.