It only stands to reason that the travel industry needs to evolve in line with the technology needs of its customers. Since the corona pandemic, costumers are more careful to touch public devices, which created some new needs.  One area of interest involves the ways in which travelers can now pay for a reservation or other services. Let us take a look at why physical payments are now being largely replaced by contactless payments as well as the benefits that these methods can offer.

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What is the Main Principle Behind This Payment Method?

Before we delve into why this type of payment has become popular, it is prudent to take a quick look at how it differs from traditional transactions. Wireless communication plays an important role, as many smartphones and credit cards utilise a type of data transmission known as RFID technology. To put it simply, a credit card no longer has to come into direct contact with the terminal. It can simply placed a few inches away in order for a transaction to be processed.

Additionally, a growing number of financial organisations are offering bespoke smartphone applications. These enable users to place their phone in close proximity to a standard credit card reader. Assuming that the transaction is approved, the user will be notified within seconds. Not only is this an extremely convenient and secure technique, but it is beneficial in regards to the current global health situation.

The Relationship Between Wireless Payments and the Travel Industry

Contactless payments have become increasingly prevalent within the travel and tourism sector. This arises from the simple fact that a growing number of devices support such technology. Any payment system that displays a sideways WiFi logo is equipped to handle wireless payments.

Another interesting development is that many travel-related firms are beginning to develop bespoke smartphone applications that support wireless payment options. These can be downloaded by a client at no charge; saving time and confusion during the booking process. Many applications will also contain links to proprietary offers as well as a means to navigate to the website in question for additional information. Not only are contactless payments great options from a logistical perspective, but your firm can likewise employ them as effective marketing tools.

What Institutions Currently Offer Wireless Payment Options?

A growing number of financial entities are providing this type of technology to their clients. This is excellent news for travel firms, as they will normally be able to adopt such an option without many problems. Here are a handful of institutions that have begun to support contactless payments:

  • Building societies and banks
  • Credit card agencies
  • Google and Apple Pay
  • Third-party firms such as Samsung and Fitbit

Now that we can appreciate the rather ubiquitous nature of these payment methods, let’s look at four ways in which they can offer benefits to your travel business.

1. A User-Friendly Sense of Safety

In the past, the primary worry associated with payments involved security in relation to the personal details of the client. While this is still a viable concern (we will address the notion of security a bit later), it has now been overtaken by the real-world issue of hygiene.

Thanks in no small part to the recent coronavirus outbreak, the travel and tourism industry has been hit extremely hard. This is due to what can only be called a “perfect storm” that includes factors such as:

  • Border closures for extended periods of time.
  • Mandatory quarantine periods of up to two weeks upon arrival at specific destinations.
  • The financial hardships experienced by many travel-related firms.
  • Understandable worries about personal hygiene and disease transmission while traveling.

Unfortunately, the first three factors cannot necessarily be controlled by travel firms. However, contactless payment methods will be able to address the final challenge.

As opposed to physically interacting with a sales representative or a machine such as a standard credit card reader, these types of wireless payments will not require any type of contact. This is an excellent way to ensure higher levels of hygiene; a very real concern when we take into account how easily COVID-19 is thought to spread.

However, contactless payments will satisfy many other health worries once the pandemic has finally run its course. Travelers are likely to be quite wary of traditional forms of payment for years into the future. Therefore, companies that are able to adopt this type of technology in advance will undoubtedly enjoy a competitive edge.

2. An Excellent Way to Enhance Customer Loyalty and Brand Recognition

To be absolutely clear, the travel industry is likely to suffer from the current health crisis for years into the future. It is still wise to stress the simple fact that firms capable of building a solid reputation at the present are likely to experience a greater degree of client loyalty into the coming years. How can contactless payments be used to enhance your brand recognition?

Branding will often represent the main factor between a successful travel-related firm and one which falls into a state of anonymity. This is just as true whether referring to airlines, cruise ships, car hire firms, or the restaurant sector. The simple fact of the matter is that contactless payments will illustrate the ability of your firm to embrace the latest technological innovations while keeping the needs of the end user in mind.

It is likewise important to mention that this type of payment method can be used in tandem with a host of other loyalty rewards programmes. Whether referring to cash-back offers, early booking opportunities or more flexible travel options, this sense of flexibility will reflect positively upon your firm. This can result in positive online reviews, higher booking rates and ultimately, a greater sense of loyalty. The good news is that contactless payments are relatively easy to implement and the associated results will be seen in a short period of time.

3. Addressing Security Concerns

Digital security is an obvious concern in this day and age. To put such an observation into perspective, the travel management conglomerate CWT was recently forced to pay out $4.5 million dollars to hackers who were able to obtain proprietary data in relation to their customers (1). When we consider that massive amounts of information are contained within the digital domain, it only stands to reason that companies need to be able to provide their clients with a superior peace of mind if they hope to enjoy return bookings.

However, contactless payments are able to provide an additional “firewall” in terms of possible data breaches. Let us assume for a moment that a card or a phone has been lost or stolen. All transactions as well as the associated details will be immediately cancelled upon the request of the customer. Furthermore, it is impossible to perform actions such as double bookings (especially if fraud is suspected). The technology employed by contactless payment systems is some of the very same utilised by major banks and similar financial institutions.

Firms which possess this type of travel technology will be able to provide their customers with an additional sense of confidence in the knowledge that their personal details are protected from prying eyes at all times.

4. Embracing the Notion of End-User Satisfaction

We live within an on-demand society. In other words, your travel firm needs to be able to provide customers with a quick and streamlined means to make a payment. This is even more relevant if a client happens to be under time constraints. In the majority of cases, wireless payment methods require no more than 15 seconds to complete. This is obviously advantageous for those who need to adhere to a tight schedule.

While it is important to mention that contactless payments will obviously resonate with the millennial generation, we should also highlight how these methods can address the needs of those with little digital expertise. Older generations can benefit from this hassle-free payment option. Whether referring to a pensioner hoping to visit Spain for a holiday or a couple wishing to quickly book a reservation at a hotel, the end result is fewer cancellations and less strain upon your customer service department.

Another interesting observation worth highlighting is the fact that your firm can often utilise contactless payments in tandem with other opportunities in order to increase levels of customer satisfaction. Here are some examples to consider:

Customers who choose wireless payment methods will be provided with a slight booking discount.

Wireless payments can also present additional possibilities such as upgrades or local restaurant offers. Some forms of hands-free payments will provide rewards points (frequent flyer miles are common opportunities). It is therefore clear to see that these wireless payments will help to ensure long-term customer satisfaction.

Video: How Contactless Payments Work?


Contactless payments are here to stay. While the recent COVID-19 outbreak may have served to highlight their importance at the present, this technology is set to make digital “waves” well into the future. The benefits behind such an approach cannot be denied and the chances are high that wireless transactions will become the mainstay of the travel sector in the near future. This is why embracing these options sooner as opposed to later is an excellent way to ensure that your firm remains well ahead of the competition.

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(1) PYMNTS, Travel Management Firm CWT Pays $4.5M In Bitcoin To Hackers