Top Five Payments Challenges For Travel Agents (2022)

It’s the peak travel season, and online travel sites have a number of pressures to manage: the economy, airline strikes, keeping up with the latest in tech and even the weather (Phoenix, we’re looking at you!). That’s before, Paysafe says, the ever-shifting payments sands kick in: rising fraud, gaps between when a consumer books, when they take the trip and when the agent gets paid and accommodating the growing number of payments methods that consumers expect to see at checkout. Here are the five payments challenges that Paysafe says online travel sites need to overcome to make the journey worth the trip.

Summer might mean vacation for you, but for travel agents, it’s crunch time, adding volume to what can already be a very delicate equation. Even in the quiet seasons, the online travel market is susceptible to the trade winds, and they don’t always blow in agents’ favor. It can be buffeted dramatically by shifts in the global economy, emerging technologies and even factors as arbitrary as the weather.

But what hurts a business (especially a small one) more than an October snowstorm is when online fraudsters use CNP transactions to steal their services. Or when they lose international deals because they’re not accepting the latest and greatest form of digital payment.

Both of these fall within the top five challenges facing modern travel agents, according to a list compiled by online global payments company Paysafe. The company has been front and center through the industry transformation since 1996 and has a few tips to keep agents from washing out with that turquoise Caribbean tide.

The End of Excessive Card Surcharges

Travel companies have historically been some of the worst offenders for drip pricing, a technique used by online retailers whereby a headline price is advertised at the beginning of the purchase process, and additional fees — such as card surcharges — that are added later in the process to inflate the final cost.

Good news for consumers: as of January 2018, that’s not going to be a thing anymore. A new law is going into effect that will prohibit agents from charging customers fees for using their credit or debit card. But that’s not such good news for the agents, and some may opt to introduce booking fees or other incentives to discourage customers from using cards.

Until a few years ago, card surcharges were big business in the travel industry, with the “add-ons” often worth more than the product being sold. This was particularly true for lower-cost bookings, such as car rentals, short stays and flights.

So-called “cheap flight” operators were once notorious for drip pricing, with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) estimating that the airline industry alone was charging consumers £300 million a year (that’s $379,672,500 USD) in card surcharges at its peak.

In 2013, new limits were set on the amount merchants were legally allowed to charge customers for paying by credit or debit card, and come 2018, that amount will be slashed to zero.

(Video) 16 Top Challenges Facing Travel Agencies in 2022 and Beyond

The Rise of CNP Fraud

According to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, the airline industry loses nearly a billion pounds ($1.3 billion USD) every year as a result of card-not-present (CNP) online fraudulent ticket purchases. In October 2016, nearly 200 individuals were arrested as part of a major international sting. Forty-three countries, 75 airlines and eight online travel agencies were involved in the fraud.

Fraud is always bad news, but the stakes can be even higher for smaller operators who may have fewer contingency funds. There’s really no way around it: Online travel agents need to enlist a payments-processing partner that offers state-of-the-art fraud mitigation tools, understands the unique set of risks affecting the travel industry and takes a proactive approach in identifying suspicious transactions — all so risks can be extinguished before they become threats.

Consumer Demand and the Globalization of Travel

More and more travelers are looking for their next big adventure, and thanks to the global travel culture, trips are getting easier than ever to find (and afford). This presents travel agents with ample new opportunities, but it also introduces significant new challenges.

Travel agents looking to expand into new territories must have the flexibility to handle a number of different payment methods, many of them entirely new. Cards are still king in most of the world, but eWallets are gaining traction, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. If agents can’t take payments in a region’s most popular form, they risk losing that market altogether.

Globalization also means that agents must navigate uncharted legal and regulatory landscapes. This is another area in which choosing the right payments processor makes a huge difference. The experts can provide everything an agent needs to accept and process payments globally, and in a secure and compliant environment.

Complex Cross-Border B2B Payments

It’s impossible to do the work of a travel agent without the ability to exchange money, what with global suppliers dispersed across various countries and currencies. But doing that with minimal risk, cost and regulatory headaches is no small feat, and factors like fluctuating FX rates, geopolitical shake-ups, lengthy settlement times, hefty transaction fees and ever-evolving fraud risks make it even more complex. This is another area in which teaming up with a reputable payment service provider is key.

Consumer Protection

When consumers pay for a vacation, their funds are held in a trust account until the travel agent delivers on its end of the contract —that is, the trip as described. This is done in accordance with The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

(Video) Solving Payment Challenges Faced By The Travel Industry | BridgerLearn

The trust account protects consumers financially in case the travel agent goes out of business or something else goes wrong. But for the agent, it introduces a wide gap between taking a booking and getting paid.

Summary

Agents can no longer get away with not offering a wide range of payment methods, around-the-clock support and best-in-class fraud and risk management.

Payments are a critical part of the consumer experience yet are often seen as less of a priority than other consumer-facing business assets, like websites, mobile apps or a social media presence. For forward-thinking travel agents looking to stay ahead in an extremely competitive market, a payment system that not only works, but is flexible and primed for growth, is essential.

By working with an acquirer that understands the complexities of the travel supply chain and offers all the essential elements to support growth within the sector, travel agents can turn would-be challenges into profitable opportunities.

NEW PYMNTS SURVEY FINDS 3 IN 4 CONSUMERS WITH STRONG DEMAND FOR SUPER APPSAbout: The findings in PYMNTS’ new study, “The Super App Shift: How Consumers Want To Save, Shop And Spend In The Connected Economy,” a collaboration with PayPal, analyzed the responses from 9,904 consumers in Australia, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. and showed strong demand for a single multifunctional super apps rather than using dozens of individuals ones.

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FAQs

Can you make monthly payments to a travel agent? ›

If you plan to finance your trip on a credit card, booking with a travel agent can offer you huge savings. The ability to pay in installments (deposit and final payment) is available to anyone, regardless of credit history. And even more exciting? It has comes with a 0% interest price tag!

What is the disadvantage of a travel agent? ›

Con: Unless your trip is complicated a travel agent might be overkill. If you're an experienced traveler, you may find the process simpler than you think. And when you rely on a travel agent you have to interact, wait for business hours, and otherwise deal with someone else's schedule.

What questions customer ask to a travel agent? ›

7 Questions To Ask Your Travel Agent When Booking a Holiday
  • How many hours will be spent in transit? ...
  • What excursions and/or activities do you suggest? ...
  • Have you ever been to my destination yourself? ...
  • What type of power supply does my destination use? ...
  • What documentation do I need for my trip?
Oct 30, 2017

What are the top challenges facing the travel industry in 2022? ›

16 Top Challenges Facing Travel Agencies 2022 and Beyond Inflation
  • Unstable Labor Market. ...
  • Oil Pricing. ...
  • Post COVID Pandemic Travel Apathy. ...
  • Social Media Deterioration. ...
  • Dynamic Pricing. ...
  • World Events. ...
  • Managing Clients and Global COVID Restrictions and Protocols. ...
  • Developing a Profitable Niche.

What is the biggest challenge facing travel companies? ›

While these are challenges that lay outside the control of the tourism sector, here is a list of 5 challenges that the industry is currently facing:
  • Infrastructure:
  • B2B Pricing Wars:
  • Technology and Funding:
  • Perception of India:
  • Competition and Taxes:

Which travel sites allow payment plans? ›

Online Travel Agencies Offering Monthly Payment Options

CheapOair uses Affirm to offer customers a monthly payment option. Funjet Vacations uses Uplift for monthly payments for its flights and vacation packages. You can find more details on the website. Priceline uses Affirm to handle monthly payments.

How does a travel agent get paid? ›

The commission is paid to the travel agent. For most trips, the vendor pays commission to the travel agent after the client has traveled. For most cruises, the travel agent is paid their commission after final payment (typically about 60-90 days before the sailing).

Do you pay a fee to use a travel agent? ›

The cost of using a travel agent is generally marginal, and oftentimes they won't charge you at all. Much of their money comes from the hotels and wholesalers they do business with. Before you consult an agent, be sure you first inquire about fees. If you won't miss the amount, go ahead and proceed.

What are the challenges before the online travel agents? ›

In order to understand the five key challenges that every travel agency faces, it is important to know some tricks that can help manage them as well.
  • Less convenient booking procedures. ...
  • Unable to maintain service standards. ...
  • Complexities in service requirements. ...
  • Data Duplication. ...
  • Reduced Online Credibility.
Dec 28, 2019

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a travel agent? ›

  • Pros.
  • You're Not The One Planning Your Travel. For some people using a travel agent, it's all about the convenience. ...
  • Price. This one can go either way. ...
  • Someone's Always On Your Side. ...
  • They Want You To Be Happy. ...
  • They Make Seeing A Brand-New Place Easier. ...
  • Cons.
  • You're Not The One Planning Your Travel.
Oct 29, 2019

What motivates a travel agent? ›

"Travel Agents sell dreams. Everyone dreams about going and doing something; a travel agent can make it happen. It is also very rewarding when customers come home and thank you and tell you how great it was." "Being a travel consultant is so much more than a sales position.

How do you ask customers for a visit? ›

4 Ways to Ask For a Customer Meeting
  1. If the prospect seems skeptical, ask like this:
  2. If the prospect seems neutral, ask like this:
  3. If the prospect may be interested, ask like this:
  4. If the prospect is clearly interested, ask like this:
Dec 11, 2012

What do you say to a travel agent? ›

Agent History

What is the area of your agency's expertise? What is your personal travel history? Have you visited my travel destination? How much experience do you have booking travel and excursions to this area?

How can we solve the problem of tourism? ›

Promote tourism in different periods (for example out of season) and at different times from the most popular. Create new and different itineraries and tourist attractions. Review and improve regulations, such as closing some overcrowded areas to traffic. Attract more responsible types of travelers.

How is the travel industry in 2022? ›

The forecast, based on analysis from Tourism Economics, projects that domestic business travel volume will reach 81% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and 96% in 2023. However, domestic business travel spending, when adjusted for inflation, will not fully recover to pre-pandemic levels within the range of the forecast.

What are the current trends in tourism industry? ›

Experience tourism is on the rise. This trend is about having a once-in-a-lifetime experience or gaining an emotional connection with cultures and nature. As travelers get tired or bored of cookie-cutter vacations in touristy hot spots, they begin looking for an authentic experience in their travel destination.

What is an uplift payment? ›

Uplift refers to out-of-market payments to generation or demand response resources in certain situations to ensure that these resources are appropriately compensated when following PJM's instructions to produce or reduce power.

What is Fly Now payment plan? ›

A fly now pay later plan can be used through Alternative Airlines to repay airline ticket in easy-to-manage payments made over time. Plans available are provided by a number of our different partners, including Afterpay, Zip, Laybuy, PayPal Credit, Klarna, Affirm and more.

How do Expedia payments work? ›

Expedia has partnered with online lender, Affirm, to allow you to easily pay for your vacation in instalments. To set up a trip payment plan you simply select monthly payments during the checkout process and will then be prompted to sign in or sign up with Affirm.

Who are the 3 travel agents? ›

In this essay, we will outline three of the main 3 types of travelers who use travel agents: business travelers, leisure travelers, and special interest travelers.

How do travel agents get clients? ›

Travel agencies need clients, so attracting new customers all the time is very important to grow your business. Some agents will rely on calling potential prospects – called cold calling – while others place ads online or in newspapers and magazines or use social media to attract travelers.

Why do travel agents charge a booking fee? ›

Before diving into some pros and cons of charging fees, a quick primer: A service fee is a charge for making a transaction such as booking a hotel, a cruise, an airline ticket or a package; it allows an agent to compensate for bookings with low or no commission.

What percentage do travel agents charge? ›

Travel agents commissions used to be the bulk of their income but that has shifted. Most travel agents who earn commission booking tickets on airlines earn 5% on domestic flights and 10-20% on international flights. The commission rates are similar for booking hotels.

Why do travel agents charge cancellation fees? ›

Some advisors have started annual subscriptions or have instituted cancelation fees to protect their income in the future. Travel Experts recently held a Business Panel to help members refocus on how to protect their time and income from the losses inflicted by the Covid-19 crisis.

What are the top challenges facing the travel industry in 2020? ›

For travel buyers, the top issues affecting their programs include government policies/restrictions (43%), followed by COVID infection rates (38%) and staffing shortages (33%), as well as supply chain bottlenecks (30%), inflation (28%) and oil prices (27%).

How do travel agents benefit? ›

Travel agents simplify the travel planning process by booking flights, cruises, rental cars and hotels, as well as resort stays and events. They offer vacation and accommodation suggestions based on their experience and research as well as work within a set monetary budget if desired.

What is the strength of travel agency? ›

Strengths. The travel agency staff knows (or at least should) what they are selling and can help the customer to make the right decisions for that particular trip. Agent is bringing value to the customer. Travel agents may have bulk deals with airlines and other suppliers particular for a trip.

Is it difficult to be a travel agent? ›

Being a travel agent allows you to make a living while pursuing your passion. You'll spend more time researching and planning for tours, helping others create life-long memories. What is this? Although the job might be challenging and demanding, seeing the smiles on customers' faces is enough joy for some people.

What are the top challenges facing the travel industry in 2020? ›

For travel buyers, the top issues affecting their programs include government policies/restrictions (43%), followed by COVID infection rates (38%) and staffing shortages (33%), as well as supply chain bottlenecks (30%), inflation (28%) and oil prices (27%).

How can I improve my travel agency? ›

8 Things Every Travel Agency Should Do To Boost Business
  1. Specialize. Pick an area of travel that you can and want to be a specialist in. ...
  2. Give a personal touch. ...
  3. Find your niche and sell an experience. ...
  4. Maintain a high standard of quality. ...
  5. Become a salesman…but inspire trust. ...
  6. Are you online? ...
  7. Explore Possibilities. ...
  8. Technology.
Aug 23, 2019

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