Travel and tourism are rebounding in the U.S. and abroad, and digital payments are being used to support renewed growth, offer added value, and streamline payments to vendors and suppliers.
After the exceptional drop in 2020 and 2021, international tourism continues its gradual recovery in 2022 due to the easing of travel restrictions. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), international tourist arrivals more than doubled (+130%) compared to January 2021, growing by 18 million. According to the organization, the increase in the number of arrivals is the same as in the whole of 2021 over 2020. Meanwhile, the WTO reported that a rapid rise in domestic travel and tourism, especially in the U.S., is driving the recovery.
Despite the hard impact Covid has had on the industry, the pandemic has created a new category of domestic and international travelers deemed the “untethered worker” or “laptop lugger” that seeks to mix work and vacation. This growing group tends to be younger, aims to take longer trips, and is a higher-income group, according to a recently published study by Delloite. Additionally, this group is highly digital and actively seeks the ease and convenience of digital payments.
Another bright spot for travel and tourism is that travelers plan to spend more this year on longer trips and more expensive accommodations, according to a Sky Scanner travel agency survey of 4000 travelers in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Germany.
Specialty segments are also on the rise, such as student, health and wellness, cultural and medical tourism, which includes patients traveling domestically and beyond international borders for surgeries and medical treatments. A recent analysis by Market Data Forecast indicates the U.S. medical tourism market alone will grow from the current (2022) $8.3 billion to $19.96 billion by 2027. This U.S. segment may also experience a significant increase due to the recent overturn of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and legalized it nationwide. A growing number of companies are offering financial support (‘Abortion Access’) to aide women employees in states banning abortion rights and are left with the only option of traveling to abortion-permissive states.
Delivering additional value to travelers and tourists
With a rebound underway, digital payments, including prepaid cards and digital wallets, offer a powerful and highly flexible solution that travel and tourism businesses can use to be competitive and improve efficiencies for paying vendors and suppliers.
The increased cost of travel due to rising fuel prices makes travelers more concerned with budgeting than other challenges, according to Delloite. Businesses can offer prepaid cards to provide additional value to budget-minded travelers who want to save and manage their money. Using B4B Payment’s prepaid travel cards and mobile/online application, cardholders can quickly load funds onto their cards, track spending, and even upload receipts. B4B Payments makes it simple for cardholders to add a physical or virtual card to a mobile wallet.
Offering prepaid cards also ensures travelers avoid the hassle of carrying cash. A prepaid card is much safer than carrying cash when traveling. Should a physical card be lost or stolen, B4B Payments enables cardholders to quickly deactivate their card and have funds painlessly moved to a new virtual or physical card.
Additionally, businesses can offer prepaid cards for particular use cases, such as stranded passengers or emergency payments, and offer travelers an incentive or reward program.
An improved service provider experience
The value prepaid cards and digital payments offer travel and tourism businesses value beyond supporting clients. Travel and tourism operators are reliant on vendor and supplier relationships. It is no secret that prompt payment helps companies be preferred customers and retain high-performing service providers. Ultimately this can translate to a better customer experience and a more significant opportunity to scale your business.
B4B Payments eliminate the need for traditional banking processes such as wire transfers and checks or cash. Our versatile prepaid product can easily be set up for making real-time payments 24/7 to providers anywhere in the world. This highly efficient form of making payments helps businesses optimize cash flow, manage peak volumes, and prevents the need to exceed credit limits.
Additionally, savvy businesses can easily use digital payments to enhance vendor relationships by offering channel incentives and rewards.
To find out more about how B4B works with travel and tourism companies, get in touch with us.