Adapting to the New Normal of Payment in 2021: HEDNA Webinar Recap

January 27, 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

From both a consumer and B2B perspective, hotel payment has evolved significantly in response to the global pandemic. In 2020, innovative contactless payment methods and a focus on fraud prevention took center stage, but what will shape payment in 2021?

Recently, Onyx’s Senior VP of Product and Marketing Brian Clubb participated as a panelist in the HEDNA webinar “Payment 2021: Adapting to the new Normal.” He joined two other panelists—Jeff Gallo of IHG and Pascal Burg of Edgar Dunn—and moderator Mike Carlo of XanderPay to discuss the direction of payment in 2021.

You can watch the full webinar here. Below is a breakdown of some of the biggest takeaways from the webinar:

Focus on Innovation and Collaboration

Women in mast making virtual paymentWhen asked to reflect on the positive aspects of 2020, Brian Clubb immediately mentioned the noticeable wave of innovation that has taken place across the industry. He pointed out the Skift Recovery Index as a prime example of how collaboration lends itself to innovation so well. Knowing where the travel industry stands in terms of recovery will be essential in 2021, and Skift is interpreting data from multiple sources across the industry and aggregating it into a visual recovery score—a way of measurement that is more tangible than other available estimates.

Jeff Gallo agreed that innovation proved to be a positive outcome of 2020, citing IHG’s ability to quickly implement touchless technology for guests at their hotels.

While contactless payment has been growing in popularity since before 2020, the pandemic forced the industry to move at a faster pace to implement contactless features for weary (and now sanitation-minded) travelers.

Takeaway: Innovation was everywhere, with contactless payment, and the leveraging collaborative data, like the Skift Recovery Index, serving as a silver lining to an otherwise challenging year for travel.

Implement Contactless Payment

Expanding on the topic of contactless payment, Gallo touched on some of the payment methods implemented by IHG for guests at their hotel:

  • Wallet Payments – Stripe, along with competitors like PayPal and Apple Pay, offer wallet payment services, which are defined as payments made with a saved card or a digital wallet. These mobile payment providers have grown in popularity over the last decade and will continue to be an integral part of payment innovation for hospitality in the future.
  • 3-D Secure – a process that adds multi-factor authentication for virtual payment. This process has been implemented across the board by most major credit card companies. It has been adopted internationally and is slowly growing its footprint in the US as well.

In fact, touchless technology will potentially shape the future of hospitality for years to come. Consumer demand is driving the need for this solution in nearly every market, and hotels are taking notice. There are several ways that hotels can incorporate the technology, and with the shifting priorities of guests, accommodating their new and evolving health and safety needs will help hotels recover faster.

Takeaway: Contactless payment is the future, and hotels should plan to implement across their portfolio to meet consumer demands.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Payment processing and management data displayed at computerThere is certainly innovation in the mix for 2021, but as Pascal Burg points out, hotel management should not forget the important things that are not going to stop being important just because the focus of payment has shifted. He noted several core aspects of payment that might easily be overlooked due to shifting priorities:

  • Maintain relationships with payment vendors
  • Considering maintaining a small internal payments team
  • Continue running KPIs to ensure you’re remaining on track

Considering the financial impact of the pandemic across hospitality in 2020, many hotels and corporate offices have been forced to reduce the size of their payment and finance departments. While Burg mentioned that hotels can outsource some aspects of their payments, it is always a best practice to maintain key roles within the organization to manage the day-to-day aspects of payment processing and management. He cautioned to remain focused on these core actions, despite the competing priorities associated with market recovery going into 2021.

Takeaway: Despite likely team restructures and in the face of competing priorities, remember to keep core revenue functions on schedule and don’t neglect the necessary tasks.

Harness the Power of Your Internal Data

When asked what might surprise hotels in 2021, Clubb cited data as a surprisingly important aspect of recovery. Hotel management must be prepared to reassess their data needs in 2021 to capture the payment insights to help them recover faster. Beyond the data itself, Mike Carlo pointed out, hotels should apply tools to best leverage the insights, as standard historical or year-over-year comparisons are less relevant after the seismic industry shifts experienced in 2020. Applying machine learning and artificial intelligence can give hotels a data edge that will propel a return to revenue generation in 2021 and beyond.

Carefully chosen payment data that provides competitive insights, like Onyx Analytic Data Services, can help hotels shift their comparison from year-over-year to compare to competitive industry standards for the current year, which will be essential moving through recovery.

Takeaway: Rely on competitive data to guide your recovery and find new and meaningful ways to look at your rich payment data.

What Was Your Payment Takeaway? 

2021 promises to be a better year for hotels and the hospitality industry, and this HEDNA webinar gave some actionable steps that hotels can take to poise themselves for the future.

What were your big takeaways? Let us know on the Onyx CenterSource LinkedIn page.


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