Rumors of stagnation in mobile payments appear to be exaggerated. While some hotel and restaurant operators have resisted moving into mobile payments — often because they believe mass consumer adoption of technology, such as mobile wallets, is still several years away — many others have begun to move forward. Mobile payments play a pivotal role in removing friction from the payment equation and create a better customer experience, says Lori Breitzke, president of payment consultancy E&S Consulting LLC (www.eandsconsultingllc.com). The end result: vendors are devising a second generation of mobile payment solutions, and operators are considering them more seriously.
By investing in mobile platforms that accept all types of payment, restaurant and hotel operators can “future-proof” themselves against disintermediation and remain on a highly competitive plain, according to vendors like TableSafe (www.tablesafe.com) and SumUp (https://sumup.com). The former’s RAIL mobile payment platform, implemented at such establishments as 71Above (www.71above.com), allows for mobile payments at the table using a credit card, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal and other payment vehicles. SumUp has integrated Apple Pay and Google Pay functionality into its SumUp Air mobile POS devices, which also accept credit cards. The vendor encourages operators to look beyond traditional applications of omnichannel devices, such as tip acceptance by hotel personnel.
In-app mobile payments are gaining ground, in large part because of the convenience they offer to customers whether payments are made on-premise or remotely. Some players are deploying native apps and chat apps and/or technology that enable payments to be made via social media. Others make in-app mobile payment possible through platforms like ChowNow (https://get.chownow.com).
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts (www.shangri-la.com) has added in-app payment functionality to its Shangri-La mobile app through a partnership with Ingenico (www.ingenico.com). The Ingenico Connect solution allows guests to settle their tabs without being redirected to other payment pages, and to avail themselves of single-click payments for recurring use. The solution is fully integrated with the chain’s MICROS (www.oracle.com/industries/hospitality) PMS and central reservation systems.
“The app plays an important role in enhancing experience and creates a seamless online-to-offline journey,” which is the key to success with mobile payments, states Oliver Bonke, president and chief operating officer, Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd.
Some operators not only accept mainstream mobile wallet offerings like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Chase Pay, but also payments made via China’s Alipay and WeChat Pay. This is in part to accommodate the burgeoning number of visitors from China. The Alipay and WeChat Pay platforms are used by a collective one billion Chinese consumers and dominate the Chinese mobile payment market.
Under terms of a partnership with First Data (www.firstdata.com), Alipay is being integrated at the POS across four million U.S. merchant locations, among them independent restaurants and regional coffee chains as well as food trucks and large stadiums. The partnership also extends to Alipay transaction acceptance at several Millennium Hotels and Resorts (www.millenniumhotels.com) properties in the United States, including the Millennium Broadway New York Times Square and The Premier Times Square by Millennium in New York City; The Bostonian Boston in Boston; and the Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles in Los Angeles. Howard Wu, president, North America and chief technology officer of Millennium Hotels and Resorts, said in a statement earlier this year that the operator’s aim in accepting Alipay is to create a seamless experience for travelers.
Similarly, guests of Luxe Hotels (www.luxehotels.com) in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills can pay for their stay with either Alipay or WeChat Pay. Adam Sydenham, Luxe Hotels’ regional general manager, says the option to utilize these mobile wallets positions the two properties as “preferred destinations” for the “throngs” of Chinese travelers who visit Los Angeles and Beverly Hills annually. Its deployment appears to be a wise move: Research by the U.S. Travel Association (www.ustravel.org) indicates that visitors from China stay in the U.S. longer than other tourists from abroad and spend the most per visit, averaging $7,200.
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