Virtual payment is transforming the way we do business – not least in the hotel industry. Corporate travellers are increasingly opting to pay using a virtual credit card or a virtual payment process and hotels need to get onboard to avoid losing their custom.
Text: Lois Hoyal // FOTOS: iStock/shutterstock
Since around 2000, virtual payment has been increasing in popularity. By now, virtual credit cards and virtual payment processes, such as PayPal solutions, are widely used throughout the travel industry. For good reason too: hotels that offer virtual payment can enhance data security as well as win customer loyalty, especially among sought after business travellers.
From a customer point of view, virtual credit cards offer a fast, seamless experience, particularly at check in and check out. Business travellers don’t have to fret about paying for the room with a personal card or be worried about credit limits. Virtual card numbers can even be sent along to the hotel with the booking confirmation; the business traveller doesn’t have to do anything.
Essentially, virtual payment allows executives to travel without a card, with the added reassurance that their card can’t be stolen or used.
The added security provided by virtual payment is a key highlight. Hotels can also benefit from the added data protection provided by virtual payment cards, particularly as data theft becomes an ever increasing danger.
So how exactly do they work? Fundamentally virtual payment cards work the same way as physical credit cards, with one key difference: with virtual credit cards, a randomly-generated card number, generated via an algorithm is issued for each transaction for a one-time, specific use, thus making them more secure. Even if a criminal got hold of that number, it wouldn’t be of any use once it’s been used for its designated purpose. What’s more, the numbers can be authorized for an exact amount and for use on a specific date. All in all, this offers a far higher level of security than traditional credit cards.
And business customers know it too. Virtual payment is quickly becoming the preferred method of payment among those corporate travellers in the know. By offering virtual payment for a booking, a hotel attracts, keeps and retains a business traveller’s custom. A hotel that fails to adopt and offer virtual payment runs the risk of losing the loyalty of its corporate customers and their sizeable travel budgets to hotels that already offer it.
Reassuringly, virtual payment is no hassle for hotels either. Hotels that already handle credit cards, such as Amex, Visa or MasterCard, are automatically able to deal with virtual credit cards from the same providers.
It’s simply a matter of embracing the technology and taking the time to make sure employees know how it works. Thanks to virtual technology, payment can be processed faster, more safely and more efficiently, which leads to reduced manpower costs from invoicing and accounts.
No doubt even more developments will follow as virtual payment becomes more standard throughout the hotel industry. HRS is currently working with Smarthotel to develop a 100% seamless integration, meaning that a hotel employee won’t even have to be involved.
The future is virtually present.