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Travel companies urged to invest in payments to make the most of travel boom

Travel companies are being urged to invest more in their payments and booking experiences to avoid losing out on the January holiday booking boom, as new data released today by open banking platform TrueLayer reveals the huge range of issues that holidaymakers face when booking travel.

After several difficult years during the pandemic, the travel industry is showing strong signs of recovery. Predictions from across the industry suggest that air travel will be back to pre-pandemic levels by June.

What’s more, the intention to travel is as strong as ever, despite the cost-of-living crisis: 71% of people say that they have already planned to take at least one holiday in the coming year, with January typically being the month in which most people book their holidays.

At the same time, the survey, done in collaboration with public opinion and market research firm YouGov, has unveiled the extent of the issues that people face when trying to book holidays. Almost three-quarters (73%) of those who have ever booked a holiday said that they find parts of the booking process frustrating.

34% said that they found themselves having to enter and re-enter booking details several times during the booking process, whilst on the other end of the payment journey, 27% of holidaymakers called out poor or unclear refund policies.

Problems continue when holidaymakers then attempt to get refunds. The overwhelming majority of holidaymakers requesting a refund (83%) expect to receive their refund within two weeks of submitting a request, but less than half (43%) of those who had applied for a refund in the past two years received it in that timeframe.

Worse still, almost a third of holidaymakers (29%) still had not received their money back after four weeks – with some left waiting even longer.

According to TrueLayer, these problems are why travel companies can’t take the industry’s recovery for granted. Pent-up post-pandemic demand alone won’t be enough to sustain the recovery for many companies operating in the travel sector.

In order to stand out from the competition, savvy companies must invest in their customer experiences – from payment to refund – to retain and attract customers.

Open banking could be one such solution for travel companies, allowing companies to offer holidaymakers an instant, seamless and more secure payment option at a lower cost.

Open banking payments remove the need to enter any card or bank account details; instead, customers authenticate their identity and confirm payment, making the process faster and significantly reducing the risk of fraud.

All payments are authenticated directly with the bank, whilst the ability to bypass card networks reduces the risk of chargebacks and removes the need for hefty interchange fees.

Eline Blomme, VP of Product, TrueLayer, said: “Right now, it’s clear that there is a huge disconnect between customer expectations and reality when it comes to travel payments and refunds.

“That’s why we’re calling on travel companies to make a change: with the travel industry in the early days of recovery, investing in best-in-class customer experiences through innovations like open banking will help savvy companies stay ahead of the curve.”