Nearly empty commercial airline flights mean a lot less tickets being purchased. This result of efforts to tamp down the Covid-19 infection packs a wallop for the travel industry. But, the time can be put to use taking care of formerly delayed payment projects and preparing for the resumption of more typical travel patterns.
UATP, an airline-owned payment network, is getting ready. “We think that the industry will recover, and that travelers will be ready to fly again as soon as deemed possible,” Ralph Kaiser, UATP president and chief executive, said in an email to Digital Transactions News. “We’re seeing restrictions eased in some parts of the world, and anticipate that leisure and business travel will follow. It wouldn’t be surprising to see some incentives to travel again in the second half of the year.”
His advice, assuming the restrictions are not extended past summer, is to have a strategy in place. “Look at how you are paying, who you are flying, and be ready to have your travelers back in the skies,” he says.
It’ll be essential to have a plan in place. “We’re working with the airlines as well, providing many options–UATP Issuance, acceptance, and global coverage of [alternative forms of payment] so that the airlines also have their payment strategy set, and are able to provide whatever form of payment its customers want, as well as providing options for gift cards, installment payments, and the like,” Kaiser says. Washington, D.C.-based UATP works with more than 20 payment providers, including Alipay, CellPoint Digital, Chase Pay, and Paysafe.
“We live with the good times and feel the pain in the bad times,” Howard Blankenship, vice president of sales and account management at CellPoint Digital, tells Digital Transactions News. “We make a living off their transactions.” CellPoint Digital, with headquarters in London and Copenhagen, provides a commerce platform, including payments support, to the travel industry.
Now is the time for the company to act like a partner and not a vendor, Blankenship says. Airlines and other travel providers are moving ahead with some projects, but are judiciously choosing which ones, he says.
“We’ve seen carriers that have embraced alternative forms of payments,” he says. The ones that don’t will have to learn to be innovative and could be at a competitive disadvantage, he adds. Travel providers could start projects now for alternative forms of payments because much of the work can be offloaded to companies that handle much of the integration into the multitude of systems.
“We’re still receiving RFPs and questions about proposals,” Blankenship says.
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