Travolution Summit 2022: Travel warned not to be complacent about payments transformation

Travolution Summit 2022: Travel warned not to be complacent about payments transformation

Experts from Trust My Group, Modulr, Nuvei and Travel Ledger discussion how travel must continue to invest in payments technology despite the return of bookings to transform the way firms work with each other and rebuild trust within the sector and with consumers post pandemic 

The travel industry was warned about complacency now travel bookings are returning and failure to invest in payments technology that could be essential to survive the next crisis.

An expert panel on payments, merchant acquiring and technology at the Travolution Summit discussed what travel firms can do to rebuild trust and return to growth.

The session kicked off with exclusive insight from Modulr which worked with Insight Avenue to poll 2,500 travellers in the UK and Europe.

It found the 50% forced to change their travel plans during COVID described process as stressful and that factors like refund policies now feature highly in their buying decisions.

Respondents who were unable to get their money back quickly reported negative feelings and held their travel provider responsible rather than their bank or credit card.

Will Plummer, chief executive of Trust My Group, said: “The fact that travel’s back is fantastic but there are some challenges.

“We’ve all talking about financial protection and acquiring over the last two years. We have all been able to talk about trust accounts and insurance in a way we have never before.

“But now that travel’s back potentially that’s being forgotten. What we want to explore is some of the lessons we’ve learnt but also looking into the future of travel.

“How we can work with the whole infrastructure, the acquirers, the payment providers the insurers, to improve risk mitigation with them to help your businesses going forwards.”

Plummer said damaged company balanced sheets requires all parties to build back trust. 

“Consumers are not trusting travel companies and payment companies. Payment companies are not trusting travel companies, travel companies are not trusting suppliers.

“Suppliers are not trusting travel companies. But there has to be a way we can al work together and it’s through technology, data and transparency that we can improve this.”

Roberto Da Re, founder and chief executive of Travel Ledger, said the key element is data and using that to manage the flow of money and increase trust in the travel ecosystem.

“Flexibility makes everybody happier. If there is a problem people are more willing to work together. 

“Now that everyone is focussing on selling, the phones are ringing and people are clicking on websites it’s sometimes normal to a little complacent.

“But I would hope the industry is not going to be complacent. We have done a lot of work during the pandemic but there is such a lot of work to do.

“We would invite everyone to invest in technology because there is still a lot of return for everyone to be had going down this path.”

Jay Abbott, vice president travel and mobility, digital payments for merchant acquirer and payments technology specialist Nuvei urged firms to adopt a customer first approach.

He said this means enabling customer to use the payments methods of their choice both to book their trip and within their trip by embracing alternative payments.

“In general investment in technology is a good thing to do, particularly from a data standpoint. 

“We are looking at it from a traveller centric payments perspective. Technology-wise you want to make sure that your traveller can always pay the way they want to pay.

“If you want to mitigate risk, one way of doing that is to ensure you have alternative payment methods.

“It’s important to highlight options, it’s not a good idea to force these sorts of things on people. Start with the traveller first and reverse engineer from there.”

Kuba Zmuda, chief strategy officer at Modulr, said transformation of payments must happen across the industry and not just be the preserve of big players with deep pockets.

But he said while emerging payments and the need to make sure money flows both ways for refunds have added complexity firms are benefitting from innovations in fintech.

“One thing alternative payment methods can do for the industry is speed up the time to cash. 

“When you look at bank-to-bank transfer methods…or pre-payments for subscription models or buy-now-pay-later the time to cash for OTAs is improving.

Zmuda added: “The transformation needs to be throughout the industry, it can’t just be reserved for the large players although they have the capability to invest more quickly.

“But there are solutions coming out that are more geared towards smaller operations to enable some of the OTAs to start leveraging the innovations that are coming out sooner.

“We have talked about the increase in lack of trust because everyone’s getting back together and everyone’s unsure about the right way of dealing with each other.

“All of that is leading to a really interesting stage for the industry in terms of driving through transformations not just at the top end but at the smaller end of the market.”