Reinvent personalised luxury service with a digital, contact-free guest experience

Planet is the official Payment Journey Partner for HIX 2021

As guests carefully move back to ’normality’, they want to enjoy what digital offers – speed, safety and convenience – in the physical environment. Forward-thinking hoteliers and partners are building a seamless omnichannel experience across all stages of the guest journey. As you know, when you and your hotel team are on stage, every moment counts; everything must come together perfectly so you can deliver a luxury five-star service from booking to check-out and beyond. That payment moment is a critical part of the overall experience.

Digital readiness in your hotel

Discussing the hotel’s payment strategy early on when opening or refurbishing ensures hoteliers stay ahead of the curve. Delivering payments the same way as we did before the pandemic will not work now.  Your guests are much more digitally aware, so they’ll be expecting a smooth, contact-free process in your establishments.

Getting a reliable Wi-Fi and network solution in place could prevent issues and potential lost revenue later.  Hiring an IT manager or Payments manager to look after this area of the business ensures business continuity and establishes that your hotel is ready for the future.

The importance of smart integrations with the right providers is crucial here. Payments can be complex, and there’s a plethora of choices and connections now. But offering a range of options to suit guests’ needs, means they can spend freely pre stay, during stay, and even post-stay.

Improving check-in

To reduce hanging around time, self-service kiosks are becoming more widespread in hotel lobbies, even luxury ones. Every guest is different, some will want to chat to reception staff, others are happy to talk to the tech. Integrate your CRM system, so each guest has a personalised message or room upgrade. Especially important for your loyal, frequent visitors.

The personal touch can be extended to other tech offerings, including mobile apps in multiple languages, and chat-bots that provide instant answers, freeing up staff time to work on more complex issues.

Making payments easier

Guests want payments to be easy. They are more open now to the idea of presenting the card once and the hotel storing the details on file if this is done securely.  Tokenisation allows a token can be generated at the time of booking, and recalled during or after the stay, so payments are processed quickly and securely.

Encrypt a guest’s payment details on any token with near field communication (NFC), like a card or a bracelet, and they can pay with this around the hotel without having to remember their room number, sign a bill or pull a card out of their wallet.

Across the world, people are moving to contactless and digital wallet payments, all processed on the latest payment devices. Leading hoteliers are accepting alternative forms of payment, for example Alipay and WeChat Pay, to better serve Chinese customers.

Enhancing Hospitality with digital

The more interactions completed digitally, the richer the insights and the greater the visibility over the value of individual guests.  Transaction data can be stored to build a profile for what, where when and how purchases were paid.

Whether a member organisation, customer rewards program, or simple loyalty card, there are chances to reward customers with credits, gifts or exclusive experiences on their next visit.

Payments and the use of contactless experiences are supported by smart technical integrations. With the right data protection, compliance and securities in place, the data profile can build a truly custom and simplified experience, which gives the opportunity to drive incremental revenue from happy customers.

Digital future

Is the digitisation of services for everyone? Perhaps not. But a tailorable approach with the choice of how much or how little a customer wants to do online may be the way forward.

The hotel industry has had a tough year but can look forward to better times ahead. Travel is back on the agenda and guests are ready to explore. However, their expectations have changed; increasingly they’re looking for the real world, hotels included, to replicate the online world with its seamless digital interactions.

Steve O’Donovan, Chief Payments Officer at Planet.