How Frictionless Payments Will Transform the Travel Experience (part 1 of 3)
By Jean-Christophe Lacour
Tuesday, 9th November 2021

The way we pay for goods and services has changed drastically over the past decade, driven by the convenience of mobile, new digital wallet options, contactless payments, QR codes, new approaches to authentication, and alternative payment methods.

The list of paytech breakthroughs is extremely long. But what does this actually mean for the traveler?

The travel industry has progressively added these new capabilities, often in isolation, at individual steps in the traveler’s experience. However, it is now time for the travel industry to consider what can be gained by embracing a digital payments future, that incorporates payment innovation into each and every step of the traveler’s journey – according to a new Amadeus report ‘Towards a frictionless future for travel payments’.

To compete in a digital world, it’s increasingly important to understand how travelers move through the different phases of this customer journey across multiple channels, from brand awareness to consideration, purchasing, retention and finally brand advocacy. Understanding and actively designing the customer’s payment experience is more important than ever in a world influenced by COVID-19, where travelers are increasingly choosing to use digital channels.

Given the current environment, digital payments can be valuable for travelers looking to reduce physical contact. However, the real prize for airlines and their passengers is an end-to-end payment experience that adds value to the overall trip experience.

While Uber has mastered frictionless payments for ride hailing that is invisible, we are yet to see any providers create a frictionless experience across the entire traveler journey. Amadeus is present at each stage of the journey from inspiration to destination, so we’re well placed to take on the challenge of working with our customers to design a frictionless payment experience from the moment the traveler first engages, to when they’ve completed the trip.

By breaking down silos and considering the journey from beginning to end, payments can become a strategic differentiator, supporting a better experience for travelers and overcoming pain points like complexity, stress, fragmentation and a lack of choice when paying.

The opportunities are vast when we consider the many stages of the traveler journey, which we will delve into more deeply in a series of blogs examining the role of payments at different stages of the journey. These stages include booking a trip, preparations in the run up to the trip, the airport experience, being onboard the aircraft, arriving at your destination and taking a transfer, checking into the hotel, using any services at the hotel, and finally post-trip – the perfect time to inspire travelers for their next adventure.

By taking an end-to-end view, the industry can drastically simplify travel whilst maximizing opportunities to convert personalized offers made at different stages of the journey. This supports merchandising strategies and can make the difference between converting a tailored offer for ancillary services, or not.

In this series of blogs, we hope to show why implementing frictionless payments in different stages of the traveler journey is a timely and important development for the industry as a whole – albeit one that is often overlooked. The opportunities are truly endless. For example, airlines could deliver notifications to travelers letting them know that it is time to board alongside an offer of an extra legroom seat upgrade – which can be facilitated with invisible payments using the travelers’ pre-authorized payment method.

In the report we explore the potential application of digital wallets, paying by link in physical locations, personalization, pay with notifications, digital foreign exchange, invisible payments and Merchant Initiated Transactions (MITs) in travel. You can find the report here, or check-back for our blog series covering payments at each stage of the traveler journey.

Jean-Christophe Lacour, Head of Merchant Services, Payments, Amadeus

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