There’s great news for hoteliers who target international business travelers: according to Deloitte, global trips are likely to return to 2019 levels by late 2024 or early 2025. As a result, new corporate travel policies are being defined, and businesses are actively renegotiating their hotel contracts. It is a perfect opportunity to leverage innovative technology to support and retain international travelers—especially those looking to pay in their preferred currency.
Hotels that ignore the opportunity to boost digital and automated capabilities are likely to lose out on bookings to their tech-savvy competitors. And in my experience, it’s harder to catch up once you have fallen behind. Here are a few ways hotels can optimize the payment experience to reduce corporate traveler frustration and increase brand loyalty.
Add Direct, Consolidated Billing
Manual invoicing is error prone and time consuming—especially with a growing number of countries adding different government requirements, such as PEPPOL adoption. This requires constant attention and changes. The cost of invoicing also continues to increase as large business buyers require more manual processes and additional expenses via Accounts Payable Portal uploads, supporting multiple formats, bespoke invoicing requirements and mandatory integrations.
Instead, businesses should capitalize on centralized, electronic billing with flexible payment options to simplify the payments process for corporate travelers. When hotels move to a direct billing model for their corporate customers, they capture a larger share of corporate wallets and solve operational pain points. Direct billing streamlines complicated billing requirements for travelers while reducing the headaches associated with reconciliations for the hotel’s finance department.
These direct billing services can also include the option for hotels to receive payment for issued invoices in as little as 48 hours, which can reduce Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)—the average number of days it takes a company to receive payment for a sale. By making the invoicing and payments processes more efficient for their Accounts Receivable (A/R) teams, hotels can focus on maximizing their bottom line and serving their guests.
Expand Payment Options
To win and retain corporate accounts, offering trade credit or net terms invoicing (giving the travelers’ company the option to pay on an invoice in 30, 60 or 90 days) is key. Recent TreviPay research shows that 85% of business buyers1 say it is very or extremely important to be able to pay this way.
And it’s a win-win. For hotels, being a preferred corporate travel partner can also increase bookings. The same survey revealed that 45% of B2B buyers would spend more with brands that offer trade credit. When business travelers have a positive booking and billing experience, they are more likely to book again—and tell their colleagues to stay there, too.
Introduce Cross-Currency Functionality
Corporate buyers tend to be more loyal to a brand that offers their preferred payment method. But for many hotel chains, international business travelers are expected to pay in the currency where the property is located. For example, some European-based businesses prefer to pay their invoices in euros (EUR) when they’re staying at a property in the United States. It would be prudent to American franchisees to enable foreign exchange so European travelers can purchase from them in EUR, instead of requiring the corporate buyer to make a cross-border payment in a foreign currency.
While it can be challenging to conduct business in multiple currencies, enabling cross-currency transactions helps offer loyalty-building payments experiences as more businesses can select their preferred payment method and currency.
Leverage API-Based Technology Partners
To gain further benefits of automated cross-currency invoicing and payments, hoteliers can implement a digital back-office solution, to make this all come together easily. These fintech solutions can streamline the entire A/R process and reduce the manual workarounds caused by old or missing technology. Modern B2B payments providers are using the latest API technology to make it easy to integrate into ERPs and other core systems. A payments and invoicing platform can help businesses cut operational expenses, decrease DSO and enhance corporate traveler loyalty.
Overall, businesspeople want frictionless payment options in the currencies they commonly use, with invoices that are easy for their employer to understand and pay. By incorporating direct billing, cross-currency sales capabilities and trade credit processing, hotels can better attract business travelers and make corporate travel easy. That is why hotels on a digital transformation journey should be sure to modernize their payments offerings. It may also be the secret to winning and retaining international and domestic corporate travel accounts.
1 The study was conducted by Murphy Research on behalf of TreviPay from May 17 to June 2, 2023. The results are based on a comprehensive review of 300 global B2B buyers.
About the Author
Brandon leads TreviPay with expertise in managing large, diverse global teams. His strength is discerning and focusing on the most important challenges facing an organization at a particular point in time and unifying all stakeholders behind accomplishing a set of specific goals. Brandon has a unique ability to connect across all levels of an organization, motivate staff with diverse skill sets, while ensuring a common alignment and results. Connect with Brandon on LinkedIn.