Adrian Loveridge Column – Acceptance of Electronic Payment a Must
One of the world’s largest credit and debit card issuers, the technology giant, Mastercard, has recently launched what it calls the Smart Islands program in the region.
While over the last ten years, tourism growth has shown significant and steady growth with small and medium size enterprises (SME’s) throughout the area playing a critical role in the economic ecosystem according to an Engagement Bureau press release, ‘only a tiny portion of companies in the region accept electronic payments.
Today, out of the total of 1.4 million merchants in the region, only 10 per cent of those are accepting electronic payments’. When you consider our principal tourism markets and the overwhelming use of cards to settle almost every type of purchase transaction, this is a staggeringly low percentage, especially when you take into account, often there is a foreign currency exchange element taking place.
Independent research clearly shows that tourists’ are far more likely to spend money where making payments are convenient and secure.
On launching the initiative, Jimena Elia, Director of Market Development for Mastercard Caribbean stated, ‘innovation is in Mastercards’s DNA’ and ‘we are excited to reveal this multi-layered technology that can help expand the tourism industry’s earning potential and build the Caribbean’s resilience to natural disasters by developing smarter islands built on cashless societies’.
To me, at least, it is a no-brainer for our Government to partner with commercially driven organisations like this, to better track tourism spending and allow them to collect taxes, where they are due, rather than continuing to haemorrhage valuable foreign exchange, which frequently evaporates unrecorded offshore, where little or no national benefit is extracted.
Or perhaps the article explains it in better words – ‘The data and tourism insights that the Mastercard Small Islands Program provides can help Governments and Destination Marketing Organisations (DMO’s) define a country’s ideal tourist, enabling more efficient marketing investments with higher ROI (return on investment)’.
Years ago, sadly without success, I lobbied for a Barbados branded credit and debit card, where all purchases paid for by our visitors, both on-island and the means to get here (airfares), earned points or miles which could be re-deemed on their next visit. Just by using this particular card as payment, the holder would also qualify for additional discounts or benefits, like the island-wide 30 plus lunch
re-DISCOVER restaurants offering 10 per cent reduction or a fixed price dinner at another 20 eating options. Of course, it could be similarly used at all types of accommodation, car rental, activities, attractions, shopping, dining and all other possibilities, increasing the likelihood of visitors returning and building destination loyalty.
With an increasing myriad of choices, brand loyalty has become an increasingly critical part in the marketing of products and services to retain existing clients.
After all, enticing a returning client is less expense than finding a new one.