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07/12/2022

Difficulty Making Payment Undermines the Hotel Experience, Finds Amadeus Study

Forty percent of travelers report challenges paying at hotels, with a third unable to use their preferred payment method.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
Michal Christine  Escobar  profile picture

Outdated approaches to payments are challenging the hospitality industry’s efforts to deliver an excellent guest experience, leading to heightened guest anxiety and frustration according to  ‘Opening the door to guest-centric payments: The opportunity for hospitality’, a new Amadeus study incorporating insights from behavioral science agency Innovationbubble.

The psychological analysis confirms 3 key findings: 

  1. Consumers find making payments at the hotel significantly more stressful than ‘everyday payments’ made at home. 
  2. They are twice as likely to experience feelings of ‘anxiety’ and ‘uncertainty’ when making hotel payments.
  3. Nonconscious analysis also discovered that consumers are far less likely to associate hotel payments with positive feelings like ‘ease’ or ‘convenience’, highlighting the opportunity for hotels to improve this aspect of the guest experience.   

Today, travelers are usually asked to pay for their stay at check-out using physical terminals, rather than at time of booking using modern digital systems. This means hotels process payments at the desk based on their own local payment system, resulting in several pain-points for guests:

  • Guests must visit the front desk to pay for incidentals like room service or to understand how much they’ve spent during the stay
  • Additional services can't be purchased and paid for within the hotel's app
  • Guests must be physically present at check-in and check-out, limiting self-service options
  • Travelers cannot always pay using their preferred payment method as hotel's local payment systems don't typically accept a wide range of card and alternative payment methods, like PayPal or WeChat Pay

Such pain-points are being felt today, with a third of respondents confirming they hadn’t been able to pay with their preferred payment method during a recent stay and 39% feeling anxiety that their payment to the hotel might not go through. With 54% of guests noticing when it’s difficult to make payment, and 77% believing it’s the hotel’s responsibility to make payment easy, the industry’s efforts to deliver an excellent guest experience are at risk.

Jamie Halliday, Strategic Insights Director at Innovationbubble said: “Our analysis uncovered significant ‘negativity bias’ connected to hotel payments. The anxiety caused by a negative payment experience lingers in the consumer’s mind, with guests telling us it influences their overall perception of the stay.”  

The way hotels manage payments today is fragmented, with responsibility falling on individual property owners or managers, rather than being strategically managed at the brand level.

This situation means hotels have struggled to keep pace with rapid advances in digital payments, as Jean-Christophe Lacour, Head of Product Management and Delivery, Payments, Amadeus explains: “Imagine staying at a high service hotel and not being able to pay with your card or the digital methods you use every day, like PayPal or WeChat Pay.

Lacour continued: “This situation is the result of longstanding fragmentation in the hospitality sector, but our research shows that poor payments are now souring guest perceptions of the overall hotel stay. That’s why I’m calling on hospitality brands to take ownership for payments at a group level, so we can offer guests a modern digital payment experience that enhances their stay."

To read the study in full, click here.