Best Payment Methods For Tour Operators

As a tour operator, it’s imperative these days that you have a strong online presence(opens in a new tab) and more importantly, somewhere to receive payments. As of 2020, 65% of revenue in the global travel and tourism market came from online sales channels, according to Statista.com(opens in a new tab). With more and more tours being sold online, choosing a digital payment platform to handle your transactions is important but can be a head-scratcher.

In our experience, tour operators use one of these two options when it comes to receiving and processing their online bookings: the first is a booking software(opens in a new tab). Booking software is excellent for high-volume tour operators as most of them have easy-to-use CRMs and keep all your bookings in one place. On the flip side, they will normally, depending on who you choose, charge a percentage of the booking.

The second option is choosing to have your payments linked directly to a form on your website, cutting out the need for a booking software. Payment gateways can be integrated directly into your site and can be treated as an alternative to purchasing a booking software, as you can integrate it via a booking form. A big pro of going down this route is that you only pay the processing fee from the gateway you choose. One of the cons is that you won’t have the ease of a backend CRM, you will need to create your own way of handling your bookings which can mean work on your end and more room for human error.

However, we’re here to help you choose the right one for your tour business. First, though, let’s begin with an overview.

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is simply a secure network that provides a bridge between your business and the customer. A gateway facilitates a payment transaction by the transfer of information between a payment portal and a processor/bank.

Simply put:

  1. A customer hits the ‘Buy Now’ button
  2. The information is securely forwarded to the payment gateway
  3. It is then normally handled by a payment processor before being handed over to the bank
  4. The customer will then receive a notification if the payment has been accepted/rejected
  5. The merchant receives the payment, normally minus the processing fee

Do I need a payment gateway?

Being a tour operator, the short answer is yes. As long as you want to receive card payments online or via mobile, you’ll need to have a payment gateway. Without one, you won’t be able to verify your future customer’s credit card information, process payments, and get that all-important sale. On top of that, and in this day and age of online security and comfort, it’s important to look out for, and advertise, that your gateway is secure. Look for gateways that are PCI-DSS compliant, this means the company you have chosen are compliant with the global standard for online security. Having this will not only give you peace of mind but it will help lend more credibility to your site.

What are my options?

There are many payment gateway options available and the trick is finding one that works for you. Some points to consider include; payment types, cost/fees, ease of use, integrations, customer support, and more. We have gone ahead and picked out points to consider plus more information if you want to delve deeper.

The larger payment gateways include:

Stripe(opens in a new tab)

  • Customisable payment solutions
  • Support on over 135 currencies
  • Supports various payment types, mobile transactions, and subscription billing
  • User-friendly
  • 24/7 email, phone, and chat support with an extensive online support centre

Authorize.net(opens in a new tab)

  • One of the first providers, a veteran
  • Accepts a wide variety of payments: major credit cards, debit cards, and digital payments
  • Very straightforward user interface
  • Various plans, monthly subscriptions, no setup fees

PayPal(opens in a new tab)

  • Arguably the most well-known, PayPal was Ebay’s 2002 purchase
  • Trusted gateway, extremely simple set up
  • Accepts; American Express, Mastercard, Discover, Visa, & PayPal Credit
  • Integrates with e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, & BigCommerce
  • Monthly payment schemes with extensive customer support

Square(opens in a new tab)

  • No setup and startup costs
  • Accepts all major credit cards but doesn’t support PayPal
  • Can accept payments via website, invoice, or on the phone
  • % payment scheme that stays the same for every card

Amazon Pay(opens in a new tab)

  • Transaction-based fees – starts at 2.9%
  • No membership fees
  • Accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Diners Club, and JCB
  • No currency conversion fees

Each of these veteran options has its pros and cons but if you’re feeling in the mood to dive deeper, take a look at these more recent payment gateway trends.

Klarna(opens in a new tab)

  • Up to 0.30 USD + 5.99% per transaction
  • Availability: For now, only UK and US market
  • Ability to split payments in 4
  • Very user-friendly

Braintree(opens in a new tab)

  • Starting from 2.9% + $.30 per transaction
  • Third-party integrations
  • International offices with good customer service
  • Accepts multiple credit & debit cards, bank directs, and online wallets

ClearPay(opens in a new tab)

  • Contact them for the latest fees
  • Split costs into multiple payments
  • API access and smooth integrations
  • Smart, easy-to-use customer interface

There are many more to take a look at including Openpay(opens in a new tab), Humm(opens in a new tab), Payright(opens in a new tab), Splitit(opens in a new tab), Sezzle(opens in a new tab), Quadpay(opens in a new tab), Viabill(opens in a new tab), or Affirm(opens in a new tab). We thought you could start with these!

What should I look for in a payment gateway?

While searching for your new payment gateway option, you want to get the best for your buck. We recommend you keep a few of these things in mind when choosing:

  • Fees: you want to make sure you are paying a price that works for you and there are no hidden costs.
  • Security: Your customers’ payments are crucial, so keep an eye out for bank-grade security levels like PCI-DSS coupled with encrypted payment transactions.
  • Customer service: you want support available around the clock to ensure your payments are flowing smoothly.
  • Payment methods: depending on what you are offering, most customers like having more than just a credit/debit card option. Maybe your customers pay in a number of different currencies, keep that in mind along with the language the payment gateway is offered in.
  • Integration: you want something that your customers can use easily, that integrates seamlessly onto your website, and will continue to work with regular updates.

Picking a payment gateway may seem like hard work but taking these tips into consideration will hopefully ease the process. Payment gateways are an excellent alternative to a booking software but it’s down to you and what works for your business. And after scratching the surface of these different methods, if you feel the payment gateway option is something that would work for you, great, but if you’re feeling a little lost with all this and feel you need to revamp your website and payment integration system, talk to the experts today(opens in a new tab).

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