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A payment guide for the travel industry

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Last editedMar 20222 min read

In 2020, around 65% of the tourism market took its revenue from online channels. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, that number looks set to increase exponentially. So, having a strong online presence is vital for any travel industry operator. And it’s even more important that payment processing is as reliable and well optimised as possible.

Major online travel industry players

The travel sector is made up of a range of suppliers, distributors and resellers but the main players fall under the three following categories.


While air travel might have taken a backseat due to Covid, there are still billions of payment transactions being processed every year by both small and major airlines. With the innately volatile state of international travel right now, a payment processing solution that can comfortably handle refunds is particularly important.


Also including guesthouses, bed-and-breakfasts and even Airbnb holiday lets, the hotelier sector is even more fragmented than the air travel sector. Payment also often occurs at the time of stay, with online payment acting as a deposit and it can include other ancillary expenses. Hotel payments can be deceptively complex so a refined payment processing system is always recommended.

Online travel agencies

There are hundreds of online travel agencies that act as mediators between the customer, the hotels and the airlines, creating packages that aim to save travellers time and money. There is a lot happening behind the scenes as far as payment processing is concerned.

How to optimise payment processing in travel

Use a payment gateway

A secure network that provides a bridge between the business and its customers, a payment gateway is the manner in which secure payments are sent and received by the vast majority of travel operators. Ensure that any gateway you use is PCI-DSS compliant and that it supports all of the currencies you intend to trade in. More on that later.

Use booking software

It is possible for travel operators to have payment gateways integrated directly into their websites, which means there are fewer processing fees to contend with. However, using bespoke booking software with its own CRM that keeps all bookings in place is perhaps the best option for operators dealing with large volumes.

Manage cross-border payments

The number of travel companies accepting payments in different currencies has increased significantly in recent years with over half of all travel agencies issuing payments in more than one currency. Non-domestic payment processing, however, can be complicated. Not only are there constant fluctuations in currency value to contend with but there are transaction fees and other complications that can lead to long payment delays. If you plan on dealing in non-domestic currency, ensure you sign up with a payment gateway or payment solutions platform that meets those needs.

Partner with the right payment solution

Travel industry payments are often large and can be made from all over the globe. That means it’s vital that all tourism operators choose a digital payment platform that’s flexible and reliable. GoCardless is an ideal platform for travel industry operators, as it allows them to collect payments directly from their customers' bank accounts as either one-off or recurring payments.

We can help

If you’re interested in finding out more about payments for the travel industry, or any other aspect of your finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 70,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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