Travel payments take centre stage at ATPS in San Francisco

Chiara Quaia

Head of Partnerships, Travel Payments, Amadeus IT Group

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The 8th annual Global Airline & Travel Payments Summit – held recently in San Francisco  brought together  over 300 people representing 180 companies across both the travel and payment industries.


The summit featured a wide variety of workshops and panel sessions, but cost of payments, bitcoin, and fraud were the hot topics on everyone’s mind. Discussions were lively and presentations enthusiastic despite the jet lag suffered by many attendees, who were comparing notes on how well they slept the night before. Throughout most discussions, airlines and travel agencies were aligned on the need to build a payments strategy. The fact is that payments management in most organisations, including travel, has grown organically, spreading into silos – it’s no surprise to find parts of it scattered across e-commerce, distribution, and revenue accounting. This has translated into a lack of co-ordination between departments, limiting payments to a mere hygiene factor with no clear focus or strategy.

I represented Amadeus at the closing panel discussion entitled ‘What will travel payments look like in 2020?.  It became clear in the discussion that the payments industry has seen a lot of recent change, with more on the way – payments management now face the increasing challenge of adapting to it. Having been sleepy for a long time, the emergence of new fraud types and payment methods such as bitcoin has reawakened the industry. The founder/CEO of an OTA,Cheapair.com, shared their success story, having managed to process up to 2.3m USD worth of additional transactions a year after introducing Bitcoin payments. He rightfully questioned how the travel market would still accept a 2.5-3% transaction fee on credit cards when Bitcoin’s were at least 3 times lower.

Answering the needs of this increasingly dynamic payment environment, we are very pleased to have announced at ATPS a global agreement with Worldpay to integrate their payment services into the Amadeus Payment Platform (APP). Worldpay will help us to fulfil our customers’ payment needs across the globe as they offer a smooth and simple payment experience to their travellers.

Ultimately, the real question for many companies now is how to turn the payments hygiene factor into an enabler with a cohesive strategy. Some airlines have already started moving in this direction as they have to deal with cost burdens such as card transactions – the most expensive, and most used form of payment worldwide - indeed now costing airlines 7bn USD a year globally (speaker after speaker said they’ve outgrown even GDS costs), not to mention fraud at 2bn USD. Pushed by an industry changing at an unprecedented rate and the call to manage these costs, it looks like payments will be higher than ever on the agenda of travel professionals.

For more news from the summit – have a look at the twitter hashtag #ATPSand also have a look at the full Worldpay press releasewith further details about our agreement.