October 31, 2018
Alexandria, Va., October 30, 2018 – The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the leading organization representing travel advisors in the U.S., continues to expand its efforts to resolve the issue of mismatched credit card processes and technologies in the hotel booking space.
The issue: a traveler makes a hotel booking through their travel advisor or travel management company (TMC) using either a virtual credit card or a corporate card not in the traveler’s possession. Upon check-in, the hotel front desk expects the traveler to produce the card used to guarantee the booking and settle the bill at check-out. All too often, the traveler simply can’t do that, as the card – used for travel and other purchases by the company – resides with the company’s travel or finance department and sits in that office, not in the traveler’s wallet. Or, in the case of a virtual card transaction, it simply is not accepted by the hotel, especially at hotels outside the U.S.
“If the virtual card transaction doesn’t go through or the traveler doesn’t have a personal card to use to pay the bill, he or she faces a real dilemma,” says Mark Meader, SVP of Industry Affairs & Education at ASTA. “Couple all this with being in a city far from home, perhaps even in a foreign land, and you have the makings of a dicey situation for the traveler.”
Too often a faxed copy of the credit card and reservation detail is used to rectify the situation. But fax technology, first commercialized in the early 1960s, isn’t the solution in today’s world given Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security compliance expectations and to some extent, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.
“The security of this unencrypted data – now sitting on a fax machine at a hotel’s front desk or elsewhere, often for long periods of time, is extraordinarily vulnerable,” says Meader. “And with a virtual credit card, the information submitted is dynamic, meaning every time that virtual card is used the verification data changes. Faxing simply can’t be the solution here!”
ASTA and its Hotel Distribution Advisory Committee, made up of senior executives from ASTA member companies and consortia specializing in the hotel sector, have called on industry leaders – hotels, GDSs, credit card companies and others – to more expeditiously align on the solutions needed to overcome this untenable obstacle which has been afflicting the traveler for too long.
In addition to ASTA’s Hotel Distribution Advisory Committee referenced above, the following consortia partners have this to say in support of ASTA’s stance:
Travel Leaders Group:
“A single unified standard for virtual payments would be tremendously valuable.” says Ninan Chacko, CEO at Travel Leaders Group. “All industry stakeholders need a consistent and efficient process. For travelers, it would help avoid check-in nightmares when hotels deny check-in without a verified form of payment. For travel advisors, it would eliminate having to support unhappy travelers standing at the front desk (often after normal working hours) asking for assistance. The Travel Leaders Group supports ASTA’s position regarding the adoption of an industrywide solution. Making this a priority will help hotels avoid problems with frustrated guests. Card providers will gain more transactions and corporations will benefit from an efficient and consistent experience for employees, easier credit card reconciliation, and less fraud and abuse.”
Signature Travel Network:
“The longstanding virtual credit card dilemma addressed by ASTA in recent weeks is long overdue for a solution,” says Richard Lebowitz, Senior Vice President, Hotel and Resort Program at Signature Travel Network. “Signature supports ASTA’s call for the swift creation and adoption of an industrywide solution, applied globally for all traveler and card types.”
Hickory Global Partners:
“As the first consortia to have a preferred supplier agreement for virtual payments, we welcome the prospect of bringing this technology up to 21st century standards and we commend ASTA’s position towards doing so,” says Chris Dane, President at Hickory Global Partners. “Reducing fraud, streamlining the booking process and effective technology to master the hotel check-in process are long overdue.”
ASTA is committed to bringing the right players together to resolve the issue once and for all. Who will join us? If you’re interested, please contact Mark Meader at email@example.com.
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.