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Home |About Us | Blog | The Growing Importance of Payment Systems in the Hospitality Sector by Mark McMurtrie, Payments Consultancy

Hospitality providers will be quick to tell you about the highly competitive state of their sector at the moment and how many are facing tough times. They are all competing hard to secure new customers, retain existing ones and earn a share of a decreasing discretionary spend. However card payments have and continue to grow each year and are the preferred payment method of customers.

Over 2.5 billion card transactions take place in the UK Food and Beverage sector annually worth a total value of £44 billion! The market has grown at a CAGR of 19% since 2005 against an overall market growth of 9% making the hospitality sector increasingly important.

Introducing smart pay@table

Modern payment systems can help deliver improved customer service levels, increase operational efficiencies and achieve incremental revenues. In Casual Dining restaurants new smart pay@table solutions allow serving staff to print bills directly from a portable card payment terminal, take multiple split payments quickly, calculate and add gratuities and even record cash amounts tendered, all without having to go back and forth to the central till. Nothing frustrates diners more than being kept waiting for the bill and then a second time to pay by card. Smart pay@table reduces the time it takes to pay, makes staff more effective and improves customer satisfaction. Turning tables faster also benefits restaurant owners, particularly at peak times, as this allows more covers to be served boosting the day’s takings. Fast Casual outlets want faster transaction times, greater payment choice and an improved user experience.

Pop ups need to accept cards

The number of pop up restaurants continues to grow dramatically both to tie in with seasonal events like Christmas and for remote events like festivals. Portable payment terminals that can run on batteries and use mobile / wireless communications are critical to the success of these businesses. Consumers no longer carry sufficient physical cash with them. Electronic payments acceptance also boosts average transaction values and reduces security risks of managing cash.

Empowering self service

The more tasks the customer is willing to take on-board themselves equates to less staff time you need to pay for. Quick service restaurants, or Fast Dining as some prefer to call it, are investing in self-service ordering via touch screen displays and tablets. This removes ordering bottlenecks, reduces queuing time and boosts customer satisfaction ratings. Consumers are also starting to pay in Casual Dining restaurants using App based wallets such as QKR! from Mastercard, their PayPal wallet and Barclaycard’s Dine & Dash. Increasingly these will be embedded within the merchant branded App so as to maintain the customer relationship and stickiness. Hospitality merchants will need to support both terminal based and wallet payments for many years to come. There is no such thing as a single customer type and each group have their own payment preferences.

Combining payments with loyalty

Many hospitality providers are looking for a slick user experience that supports both loyalty programmes and the payments process within a single transaction. Loyalty incentives and instant rewards are crucial to customer retention. Digital programmes are cheaper to run and tend to deliver better results.

Supporting alternative payment methods

Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards are no longer the only way to pay at a restaurant, bar, café or hotel. NFC contactless payments from a smartphone such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are developing growing followings. These new payment methods are not restricted to the £30 contactless transaction limit thanks to the inbuilt additional authentication methods supported. International business travellers and tourists also prefer to pay as they would at home with their Discover, Diners and UnionPay cards. It has been found that the Chinese customer spends more if they can pay using Alipay or WeChat Pay and so we are seeing wider acceptance of these methods in the UK.

Added Value transactions

As part of corporate social responsibility programmes many hospitality sector merchants are now offering charity donations at the payment terminal through connection to Pennies, the digital charity box. Lots of small customer donations quickly amount to major funds for charities to spend on their good causes.  Another value added service that is proving popular across the hospitality sector is short electronic Customer Feedback surveys. This has been pioneered by TruRating who capture customer responses at the time of payment.

Payments Consultancy Ltd helps organisations understand today’s highly complex payments environment, develop compelling payment strategies and select the right suppliers to work with.

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