New research carried out by market research firm Phocuswright1, co-sponsored by eNett International, reveals support for alternative payment methods have doubled in the past three years2. Virtual card or Virtual Account Numbers (VANs) lead the charge with 69% of travel companies surveyed supporting or planning to support it. Compared with just 36% in 20132, this represents a significant shift away from traditional payment methods and an uplift in innovation across the industry.

Phocuswright surveyed travel companies across Europe, revealing a travel landscape embracing new payments technology. VANs have firmly established themselves as the number one choice after traditional payment methods, with forecasts using the research predicting they may even overtake EFT and cheque payments overall in the next few years3. For larger travel companies4 VANs have already overtaken traditional methods, with 71% supporting VANs, compared with EFT (62%) cash (52%) and cheque (42%). And when it comes to paying hotels and accommodation, travel companies of all sizes cited VANs as the most popular method of payment (24%), second only to traditional credit cards.

However, the research also highlighted that there was still huge opportunity for travel companies to use technology to solve payment pain points and increase efficiency. Over one in four (27%) continue to track payments and commissions manually. Smaller agencies5 spend 12 hours a week on manually processing payments, with larger agencies dedicating at least four staff spending 16 hours a week. With solutions available that seamlessly integrate with booking platforms to automate the process this represents €215 million6 unnecessary annual wastage by European agencies.

eNett’s Managing Director and CEO, Anthony Hynes said, “The research illustrates how advances in payments technologies are causing a significant shift in payment habits. More and more travel companies are realising the cost and efficiency benefits alternative methods can bring, all by simply changing the way you pay. This is just the start of the FinTech revolution in B2B. I am confident that over the coming years we will see a landscape dominated by innovative payment methods, with VANs challenging traditional card payments and providing a frictionless experience for agencies and suppliers alike.”

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