Travel companies are risking losing one-third of their customers due to the lack of payment choices they currently offer

8 January, 2019

More than one third of British, American, Chinese, French and German travellers surveyed globally (36%) are unhappy about not being able to pay the way they want when booking holidays online, according to an online survey of 7,400 consumers by YouGov and ACI Worldwide, a leading global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions.


  • Global survey from ACI Worldwide and YouGov shows the importance of digital channels, transparent pricing and payment choices when booking travel online;
  • While digital channels have empowered users, the global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions says the customer journey is not perfect;
  • It urges companies to better understand local and regional payment preferences for target traveller markets and not to assume a 'one size fits all' approach.

Lack of transparent pricing is another large concern for travellers, with 66% globally saying there are too many hidden fees such as add-ons when booking trips and tickets online, resulting in final prices that are different to the ones advertised.

It is clear that digital channels have empowered travel operators to provide new routes to market and travellers are now able to research their options online, and then choose exactly how the book and pay for their business trips or holidays, but as Peter Moedlhammer, head of global e-commerce solutions at ACI Worldwide, notes, there remain some clear breaks in the chain.

"Many consumers are unhappy with one or more aspects of their online customer journey, whether it is price transparency, the ability to make changes to a booking or to pay with their preferred payment method. If travel operators want to compete effectively in this very competitive market, they need to address these issues urgently," he says.

The results only represent a sample of travellers, in this case 7,433 adults (1,250 US adults, 2,032 German adults, 1,004 Chinese adults, 2,134 UK adults, 1,013 French adults) of which 5,283 were travellers, but identify some clear habits.

Key findings and trends on travel and booking behaviour from the research include:

  • On average, nearly two in five (37%) of respondents globally travel 1-2 times a year while more than one in five (22%) do so 3-5 times a year;
  • 65% of travellers globally spend between USD 320 - 3,800 on leisure travel annually, with a third (33%) spending more than USD 1,300 per year;
  • Globally, 74% prefer to book their travel via a digital device (computer, laptop or mobile phone) and on average, only 10% prefer to book in person;
  • Travel comparison websites have significant market share, with 30% of travellers preferring to book via this channel;

Key findings and trends on payments preferences from the research include:

  • Globally, 30% of travellers want a range of payment options available and 36% feel frustrated if they can't pay via their preferred method;
  • Credit and debit cards are still broadly the most popular means to pay for trips globally (36% and 29% respectively), with PayPal taking a strong market share (17% globally) in most countries and across age groups;
  • Local payment methods feature strongly in Germany and China; in Germany 33% of consumers prefer to pay via direct bank transfer, in China 78% use Alipay as their preferred payment method.

The research also shows transparency and data security are vital for customer loyalty. 66% of respondents find a lack of transparent pricing annoying, 32% of respondents are concerned about what travel companies do with their personal data and 34% say operators should be more transparent about what they do with customers' personal data.

It also highlights concerns over fraud with 33% of travellers globally have experienced fraud either while booking a holiday or while travelling. Looking on a country level, the number of UK travellers having experienced fraud is the lowest (18%), with 30% of Germans, 36% of Americans, 35% of French and an alarming 61% of Chinese travellers stating they had been victims of fraud.

The research findings highlight that globally, there are a number of service trends travellers value most when it comes to booking trips online. With "downward cost pressures" and the "strain of competitive threats" weighing on travel operators, the need to understand customer buying drivers and preferences "has never been more important," says ACI Worldwide's Peter Moedlhammer.

Local and alternative payment preferences as well as fraud and security impact not only the purchase but also the travel experience. These factors influence travellers' choice of operators, and whether they return to those providers in the future," he adds.

ACI Worldwide recommends the following three top tips for online travel operators...

  • Understand the local and regional payment preferences for target traveller markets, worldwide there are over 300 different online payment methods, don't assume a "one size fits" all approach will work;
  • Research current and emerging alternative payment methods which can improve conversion options on high priced vacation and travel ticket items - lost opportunity cost can hamper revenue and future business;
  • Develop an integrated payments and fraud management approach for managing transactions - travellers want to feel confident and secure in the operators with whom they choose to do business.