Unlike what you may think, applying for a tourism merchant account is not an overwhelming one.  Getting yourself ready to accept credit cards means ensuring that you have certain things in place when you talk to your preferred payment processor.  It is a good idea to know what to expect during the application process and what information you will need to have handy in order to get through the application process.  Another good idea is to make sure that your bank or merchant processor can support one of the many payment gateways compatible with Rezgo.

BEFORE YOU APPLY

  1. Make sure you talk to your bank and get the name of someone at the bank who can speak on your behalf.  If you don’t have a regular customer service representative, you may need to speak to bank manager.  Setting up a merchant account is just another banking relationship, if you have a good relationship with your current banker, chances are good that they will act as a reference for you.
  2. Get at least three business credit references from vendors you work with or other businesses with whom you have done business.  The merchant processor is looking for relationships that you have with other companies, so the more you can provide the better.
  3. Get your bank statements in order.  The merchant processor may need to see confidential bank information.  This is normal and not a surprise, since they are banks themselves.  If you have them handy, then you can fax them or provide them to the representative when you meet with them.
  4. In some cases, for example if your business is new or young (less than 3 years), the merchant processor may need to do a credit check on you.  Just be aware that they may ask for this and be prepared to provide the information if required.
  5. Make sure to tell the merchant processor that you are applying for an e-commerce account.  If not, they you will get a regular merchant account for your in-office bookings.  You will need the e-commerce account in order to take online bookings.
  6. Since you will be accepting credit cards online, you need to have your secure booking form set-up and viewable.  The merchant process will need to be sure that your website is PCI Compliant and properly secured. Sometimes, the merchant process will issue you the merchant account but will not authorize online payments until your site is ready.
  7. You will need to have your privacy policy and cancellation/refund terms clearly viewable on your site.

DURING THE APPLICATION PROCESS

  1. Your merchant processor of choice will generally send you an application form, a price sheet outlining the rates they will charge you, a pre-authorized debit form for depositing and withdrawing funds from your bank, and a merchant agreement.  All of these documents need to be signed and faxed back to the merchant processor.
  2. You will be asked what kind of business you are in.  This is because certain types of businesses are considered higher risk then others.  If you are a tour operator who primarily sells tickets same day or just prior to the tour then you shouldn’t have too many problems.  In addition, if your ticket prices are generally low (for example $50-$100) and you do a high volume of ticket sales then your perceived risk is lower.  Processors will have an issue if you sell high priced packages that are 6 month or a year in advance of travel.  In this case, you may have to come up with a deposit.
  3. The processor will ask how long it takes for you to deliver the service to the customer.  Understand that the greater the time between booking and delivery, the higher the chance of charge back.  If you can avoid charging the customer, but authorize the card instead, the greater your chances of approval.

YOU GET APPROVED, NOW WHAT?

Once approved, you will want to contact your booking engine provider and give them the credentials for your payment gateway.  Your booking engine company will then be able to send payments directly to your e-commerce merchant account so you get paid in real-time.  If your account is pending because your site is not yet finished, make sure you get your site live as soon as possible so you can start accepting bookings and payments.

YOU GET DECLINED, WHAT TO DO?

It’s not the end of the World.  Simply put, your type of business may be too risky for the processor.  If that’s the case, I recommend you evaluate your payment policies (if you have one) or develop a payment policy that is more in-line with the expectations of credit card processors.  For example, you may only accept a small deposit and charge the full amount after the tour is taken.  Perhaps you send regular invoices to the customer which they pay online themselves.  This way, the customer pays on a regular basis.  The other option is to use a service like PayPal Website Payments Pro if you are in Canada, the U.S., or the U.K.  The platform is built on Paypal’s highly success web payments system but emulates the payment gateway so it can be integrated more closely with your online booking engine.  Be forewarned however, that even though you may get approved, they may hold your funds if they see transactions that ring their alarm bells.