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An evolutionary year in airline and travel payments

Written by:   Thomas Helldorff, VP Travel & Airlines, Worldpay,  18 Dec 2017

Keeping up to date with regulatory changes; evolving business models and consumer expectations - it's been a busy year for the travel and airline team, with 2018 set to be just as transformative with new research and customers always on the horizon.

1) Earlier this year, you stated mobile and ancillary services as the main themes in travel payments for the beginning of 2017. Has this been the case in the second half of the year too?

Yes indeed! Taking one topic at a time:


Mobile: we’ve seen mobile as a hot topic with our customers throughout the year and this was certainly the case judging by the interactions everybody had at Worldpay Rethink, our eCom customer event. From a product perspective, we’re focusing very heavily on the one-click experience – trying to embed it into the airline and travel world as much as possible. We’ve just concluded research into the mobile payment journey that we can’t wait to release in Q1 of 2018.

Ancillary services: there’s been loads of progress, we’ve seen many airline as well as travel providers tap into this opportunity. Ryanair is probably one of the most vocal providers, thriving to become the ‘Amazon of travel’ at the beginning of the year. It’s about distributing anything else you may require around your journey, whilst travelling and in-destination, focusing on the mobile user. We believe that payments are a key component for a seamless travel experience.   

"We spoke to a carrier in APAC which is not able to get new planes fast enough to fill demand – they’re able to connect any large city in China to their home base and almost immediately running at full capacity. It’s astonishing growth and a great opportunity."

2) Which regions have seen the biggest growth? You mentioned earlier this year that India was a rising eCom star.

Yes we’ve seen growth in India, but also in LATAM and APAC due to the rising middle classes – which fuels enormous growth among regional airlines. We spoke to a carrier in APAC which is not able to get new planes fast enough to fill demand – they’re able to connect any large city in China to their home base and almost immediately running at full capacity. It’s astonishing growth and a great opportunity. It’s a matter of building infrastructure fast enough.

3) Do you think that IoT payments have taken off yet? What can firms do to make the most of The Seamless Travel Experience?

We’ve seen early trials of travel bots – there’s more and more talk of AI supported customer service – merging AI with human brain power to enable a high quality travel experience. I do believe that travel is a very complex product, with so many variables and subtleties that it’s very difficult to create an ‘AI-only’ product. But we’re not too far away from a fully automated travel concierge that books and pays on your behalf - ideas travel consumers are receptive to, as we found in our Seamless Travel Experience research.

"There’s more and more talk of AI customer support – merging machine learning for efficiency with high-quality human interaction with travellers"

4) What are your proudest achievements of the year, for example customer wins?

We have made really good progress in all regions, from one of the largest travel companies in Brazil to low cost carriers in Japan. There are a few exiting wins that we will be able to communicate early next year.

We have made some progress with our approach into the hotel industry – as organisations are moving towards a centrally structured model, which means they can starting taking payments on behalf of all their franchisees rather than taking payments at property level.

5) Are there any travel and airline predictions you’re able to share for the first half or later into 2018 that might benefit consumers and our customers?

In-airport payment at kiosks and check-in desks. We’ve seen a first glimpse of them in Amsterdam this year, but in 2018 we can expect to see further adoption of airlines taking chip-and-pin payments for airline add-ons, such as excess baggage and upgrades.

There are also more rules and governance coming in 2018 which have the potential to disrupt some long-standing business models, such as surcharging. That will further drive airlines to find other revenue or cost-saving opportunities. We are helping them to optimise their setup to reduce costs an increase acceptance rates. Within Worldpay too we are introducing Artificial intelligence to maximise the effectiveness or our own systems.

It’s an exciting time within the airline and travel payment eco-system, even with its increased complexity. Join us in staying ahead of the curve.

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Written by:   Thomas Helldorff, VP Travel & Airlines, Worldpay,  18 Dec 2017