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Travelers demand choice, transparency and security for frictionless payments


 Imagine you’ve spent hours searching for the holiday of a lifetime and you’ve finally found the perfect destination, with a hotel that’s just right, convenient flight times and exciting activities. Now imagine the price is presented in an unfamiliar foreign currency, that the travel retailer doesn’t allow you to pay with your usual method and you get the sense the website may not be fully secure. You can quickly see why 70% of travelers say a good payment experience would make them select one travel provider over another. That’s why Amadeus has undertaken ‘Frictionless travel payments: from complexity to competitive advantage’, a major new study investigating what travelers value most from the payment experience.

According to the analysis, travel and payment trends are colliding to drive new behavior, for example, 74% of people now book travel less than two months before departure and millennials are more than twice as likely to do so than those over 55. When it comes to meeting the payment expectations of this growing group of late bookers they demand price transparency, a wide choice of payment methods and improved security.

With millennials also more than twice as likely as those over 50 to ditch their shopping basket, payments represent a significant opportunity for the industry. While new innovations such as ‘pay by instalment’ are particularly popular with millennials, 66% of all travelers confirmed they would be more likely to buy with an instalment option and 56% said they would purchase higher-value services if they could spread the payments.

As the average traveler now relies on more than four different payment methods throughout their trip, it’s clear to see why 38% of travelers cite payment method choice (e.g. cards, bank transfer, e-Wallets) as their number one requirement. However, what matters even more is transparency, with 47% saying unexpected fees, charges or foreign exchange surprises are a major point of friction.

Bart Tompkins, Managing Director, Payments, Amadeus commented: “I’m confident that 2020 will be the year in which we see travel sellers aligning their payment strategies to meet not only customers’ demands but also their preferences. It’ll be the year where we see a significant step forward in delivering a frictionless payment experience in travel.” He continued: “However, with 75% of travel firms still finding it hard to offer a simple and consistent payment experience there’s work required to deliver on travelers’ desire for greater choice, transparency and security. At Amadeus, we’re focused on building a wide range of partnerships that help our customers innovate more quickly to deliver on changing traveler demands.” 

Stefan Ropers, President, Strategic Growth Businesses, Amadeus commented: “At Amadeus, we’re on a mission to make travel as frictionless as possible, and as this research makes clear, payments is an area full of opportunities. If we dare to think differently, we can make payments a ‘wow moment’ that helps earn travelers’ trust and loyalty.”

The study includes a range of recommendations for the industry to deliver a frictionless payment experience:

  • Improve payment choice at checkout: by regularly monitoring traveler payment trends at a local market level and having a process to continually test different payment methods locally
  • Boost transparency: by integrating multi-currency conversion so travelers gain ‘price certainty’ in a currency they’re familiar with and clearly displaying any charges up-front
  • Build trust: by clearly communicating the steps you’ve taken to secure your customers’ data and by having a robust two-factor authentication process in place
  • Empower last-minute buyers: by using open-APIs and cloud to deliver rich, fast and reliable payments as well as personalizing the payment methods you offer a traveler during the trip
  • De-stress travelers with automated and pre-booked services: by ensuring ancillary services like baggage or lounge access are offered pre-trip, and by providing ‘book-now, pay-later’ options so people can enjoy the moment, but also by modernizing payments in areas like the airport.

‘Frictionless travel payments: from complexity to competitive advantage’ helps travel companies to make better informed decisions about how to meet rapidly changing traveler payment demands. The full report is available for download here: https://amadeus.com/en/insights/research-report/frictionless-travel-payments


The study was developed based on a global survey of 5,665 travelers in 10 globally representative markets carried out by Sapio Research on behalf of Amadeus. The study also draws on the results of a survey of payments leaders from 70 travel retailers and a range of interviews with Amadeus’ travel payments experts.