3 min read

Paper, Plastic, or Digital?

By Chesley Turner on November 21, 2016 5:21 PM

Topics: Uncategorized

Payment Solutions in the Travel Sphere

It’s one of the biggest challenges many of our clients face: Form of Payment. If your travelers can’t use credit cards, what are your options?

NOTE: This blog was composed from information presented in a breakout session at the World Travel, Inc. 2016 Fall Symposium and Travel Tradeshow.


Today’s Payment Needs Are Diverse

Not all traveler requirements are created equally. Sure, you may have travelers with approved corporate credit cards, or who can use a personal credit card to book travel and then apply for reimbursement.

However, you may also have travelers who don’t have corporate credit card, who don’t have personal credit cards, or who have low limits on their personal cards. Or you may have high variability in who your travelers are, or they may be traveling to developing countries that don’t have systems that accept credit cards.

For example, major retailers who have to staff store openings across the country need to send employees to oversee the build and launch. Often, these are younger employees, many of whom have no credit or aren’t high enough on the totem pole to warrant a company card. They travel often, hitting city after city, and the resources required to reconcile each vendor charge are extremely high.

Amy Delaney, Director of Account Management at World Travel, Inc., sees these variables first hand. "Virtual payment has been an excellent solution for companies facing the challenges of direct bill hotels, not having corporate credit cards, or having travelers who don't have personal credit cards for business use."


Industry History

Historically, the travel industry has relied on invoicing and credit cards to process payment for vendors. However, with the proliferation of travelers, the maintenance of this process is becoming more and more difficult, for clients, for vendors, and for travel management companies.

"A consistent concern with clients is management of time and resources. Hunting for the appropriate credit card charge or expense report to reconcile a hotel expense takes too much time," says Delaney. "It doesn't have to be that difficult."


Virtual Payment Options

The digital boom is streamlining myriad processes within the travel industry, and payment is one of them. Virtual payment technology allows World Travel, Inc. to facilitate transaction payments, securely, accurately, and easily.


How It Works

With Virtual Payment, a unique Virtual Card Number, or VCN, is provided for each transaction. That VCN is linked to a central card account and is only valid for a certain date range.  When a traveler books with a vendor, the GDS makes a request from the Virtual Payment Provider to create a one-time-use card for the specific vendor and cost. When authorization is granted, the virtual card number is entered into the payment record and the vendor contact info is updated. The Virtual Payment Provider then sends a fax* to the vendor with the payment information. After the card is charged, the bank returns a daily transaction file, which is then reconciled with the booking.

(*No, it’s not the 1990s. But faxes are still a more secure way of directly sending card numbers to vendors. Virtual payment providers, including Conferma, are now working to integrate PCI compliant email into the process.)

Virtual Payment Process Overview

Value and Benefits

The value and benefits of the Virtual Payment are extensive.

  • Control what the employee spends (the payment amount is pre-set to match the charge)
  • Maximize transparency (with a one-to-one charges that are easy to track and reconcile)
  • Save time and resources (by not wasting time on reconciling payments)
  • Enjoy automation (that doesn’t require you to micro-manage employees)
  • Maintain PCI compliance (with cyber-safe transactions)
  • Pay for all vendors (from multinational hotel chains to local inns)
  • Pay in all markets (because Virtual Pay can issue VCNs that can be used in developing markets)

Ready to Start?

World Travel, Inc. can help. If you have a segment of travel in your program that would benefit from virtual payment solutions, contact us to learn more about how we can help.

Image by Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo
Chesley Turner

Written by Chesley Turner