powering tour and activity businesses worldwide since 2007

Online Payments Are a Challenge for Tour Providers, But Rezgo Can Help

To customers, digital payments are an afterthought. You make a booking, fill out your credit card details, and just like that, the transaction completes. It’s a beautiful, simple system that makes shopping online a breeze.

But when you nudge back the curtain, the payment landscape looks a little different. That simple customer-facing process is backed by a labyrinthine system of payment providers that merchants often struggle to navigate, one that casts people out for being from the wrong country, doing too little business or too much, or offering the wrong services.

Small tour and activities providers are increasingly adopting online bookings, but some are being left behind. Unable to secure a merchant account that supports their booking platform, often because very few payment providers are willing to work with merchants from their country of origin, they have to rely on time-consuming, inefficient alternatives.

That’s why we’ve launched Rezgo Payments, offering tour and activity companies who use Rezgo the ability to take online payments without going through the struggle of finding a payment gateway. We’re offering it in as many countries as we can, to providers of all sizes. Online bookings aren’t the future — they’re badly needed in this very moment, and Rezgo wants to make sure they’re in your reach, wherever you are.

The trouble with digital payments

Rezgo has always worked closely with payment providers around the world to ensure that we could bring online payments to tour and activity providers everywhere. But despite our best effort and theirs, there have always been gaps.

Take Latin America. Though LatAm markets have been primed for e-commerce growth for years, banks have been less-than prompt at providing robust payment options. To fill the gap, Visa launched its digital wallet, Visa Checkout, as a payment solution in for a number of LatAm markets in 2015. But digital/mobile wallet support is just another hurdle for merchants, who have trouble enough finding gateways that support standard credit cards. While we work with several wonderful gateway options in the region, there are still tour providers who remain underserved by the options available.

Americas Market Intelligence’s Payments in Latin America reports that the result of this gap has seen services like Brazil’s boleto bancario, which provides cash-based invoicing for online payments, enjoy a recent uptick in use. Offering cash payments may allow merchants to accommodate customers who aren’t comfortable or able to book online with credit cards, but is it worth the uncertainty, the additional overhead, and potentially the ability to serve the many customers who do want to pay with credit cards online?

Businesses in Asia are also familiar with these challenges. Regulatory challenges vary not only by country but by locale. Technology adoption varies. In China, the ubiquity of WeChat Wallet and Alipay often leave traditional gateways unwilling to compete, and the regulatory burden can be intense. When a merchant does find a gateway that supports local and international payments, they have to gamble on whether that gateway has the technological capacity to support the online services they need, and on whether they’ll even be approved for an account.

Tour providers can rarely subsist off local options like regional digital wallets or cash invoicing, as this restricts their markets to local customers. Tourism is a global industry, and merchants need to be able to take global payments to survive.

Why are digital payments so restrictive?

While global payments are every merchant’s dream, making that dream a reality is a bit more difficult. Even Stripe, once considered the field’s biggest disruptor, has been slow to expand beyond its initial markets. It currently supports 23 countries, most in North America and Western Europe, with three more in beta stages. PayPal has more global availability, but pairs that with strong restrictions on which of its products and services are available in each market and what sorts of businesses can use them.

The question, then, is why haven’t these disruptive technologies fulfilled their promise of easy global payments for everyone? In most cases, the answer is regulation. Every market poses unique regulatory challenges, and some would require sweeping changes in payment processing methods for these companies.

For many merchants, that leaves traditional regional payment gateways as the only real option. Unlike modern disruptors, these traditional service have a low tolerance for risk. That means any company that fits outside their narrow definition of a low-risk business is likely to be left out in the cold.

These companies take a macro view of the payments landscape. Why take the financial risk of supporting businesses that might not be big money makers, or deal with the intricacies of regulations in nations that are still developing their e-commerce infrastructure? If a small business like yours is left without payment options, it makes no difference to them.

Payment solutions for tour and activity providers

Your payment options matters to us. We want Rezgo Payments to be a solution for all Rezgo clients, big and small. We’re happy to put in the legwork required to work with trusted partners who have local underwriters in all regions we serve to ensure our solution will work for you.

Digital payments should be easy. For customers, they’re as simple as pressing a few buttons. For everyone else, they’re not. That’s why Rezgo is changing the digital payments landscape for our clients — because running a tour and activities business can be hard, but getting paid for it should be simple.

Written by

Nissa Campbell is an author and blogger who covers tourism and technology . Since 2014, she has been documenting booking software at Rezgo and working with tour operators at all levels of the industry to help them find solutions to their technical needs.

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