Virtual Payments and Hotel Check-Ins: How to Create Seamless Transactions

hospitality virtual cards

If your business pays travel expenses for your workers, you’ve likely already discovered that traditional credit cards can be problematic. Not only can they easily be compromised by physical theft or a data breach, but employees are tasked with carrying them around. As personal payments gradually shift toward mobile, demand will increase for a credit card that professionals can use from their mobile devices.

Virtual payment cards have been hailed as the future of business payments, but they do come with a few challenges. For professionals checking into hotels, though, virtual payments can lead to confusion for front desk workers, making the check-in and checkout processes more complicated. Here are a few things to know about virtual payments at hotels.

Addressing the Issues

As with other industries, hospitality-based businesses benefit from the increased protection credit cards bring. With a virtual card, a one-time number is issued for each transaction, which means even if a criminal takes the number, it won’t be usable. Since virtual payments were first introduced, hotels have struggled to make them work within their existing systems, which were designed to capture a number and hold it until checkout.

For hotels, the issue is that virtual card numbers are identical to traditional credit card account numbers, making it impossible for a reservationist or front desk receptionist to recognize them as virtual. When surveyed, 74 percent of respondents say they accept virtual credit cards. Of the 26 percent of hotels who don’t, the top reason is simply that they payment type doesn’t work with their property management’s existing system. This highlights the need for hotels to find a way to adapt to the new technology to avoid losing customers.

Industry Solutions

As virtual payments move into the business travel space, hotels will grow increasingly aware of the importance of reworking their procedures to fit the demand. Business travelers spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year at U.S. hotels and many of them tend to remain loyal to one or two chains. If a business switches to virtual payments, only to find a major chain doesn’t accept them, that company’s employees are likely to shift to a rival chain, taking their annual spending dollars with them.

Last year, the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association, in coordination with Hotel Technology Next Generation, released a report that was aimed at moving the industry in the right direction. The report proposes a technical specification that helps direct hotels to include virtual payments as part of the reservation process. Using this information, hotels can begin to shift their procedures to accept, modify, cancel, and transmit virtual cards throughout a person’s entire reservation and stay.

Virtual payments will free professionals to travel without a card. They’ll be able to move from reservation to payment with ease, all with the confidence of knowing their card can’t be stolen. However, a substantial portion of hotels still has difficulty processing virtual payments, bringing a demand for solutions. The hotel industry is already working on setting standards that hotels can follow to integrate virtual payments with their existing reservation systems to keep customers happy.