In 2016, Rio de Janeiro became the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics. For the online travel and hospitality industry, the Rio Olympics presented a significant opportunity as 500,000 visitors descended on the Brazilian city during the games. In order to host so many people, the city’s hospitality industry added 20,000 rooms for a total of 50,000 rooms citywide.¹ As Rio added infrastructure, travel and hospitality websites prepared for the increase in Brazilian bookings by adding local payment preferences.
The online travel and hospitality industry is home to a variety of businesses that facilitate the planning and booking of travel. One such business model includes online travel agencies (OTAs), which make it easy for consumers to research and book accommodations, airfare, car rentals and more. Another popular business model offers an online community for locals to rent out their homes to visiting travelers. Both business models played a key role in booking accommodations for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Although many of the biggest names in online travel and hospitality were already processing payments in Brazil prior to the Rio Olympics, their in-country payments capabilities were not optimized to take full advantage of the opportunity. Because payments were being processed cross border through a U.S. or European entity, some of these leading online travel and hospitality companies had to display prices and transact in $USD or €EURO, rather than the preferred local currency and payment methods. This cross-border model was far from an ideal solution heading into the Olympics as it delivered lower acceptance rates, higher processing costs and increased customer service issues.
To prepare for the large increase in transaction volume that the Olympics was expected to bring, many of these companies sought out a solution that would maximize revenue potential by offering a localized payment experience that met the needs of the Brazilian market.
For years, Worldline has been delivering a localized payments solution in Brazil for many of the top names in online travel and hospitality. To further optimize the preexisting cross-border model used by these companies, we launched our Latin American (LATAM) Money Remittance solution with local acquiring partners.
With the new business model in place, travel industry partners are now able to accept additional local forms of payment that are unique to the Brazilian market, including Elo, Hipercard, Hiper and the widely-accepted practice of paying over multiple installments. Offering installments is essential to doing business in Brazil, given that greater than 75% of all online purchases paid by credit cards are financed through interest-free installment plans.² In addition to installments, we enabled Brazilians to pay with the popular cash-friendly Boleto Bancário, a payment method that Worldline has supported for many years. Instead of entering credit card information at checkout, Boleto allows consumers to print out a barcode ticket, which they can take to a local store to pay by cash or card.
By enabling these local payment options in Brazil before the Rio Olympics, online travel and hospitality companies partnering with Worldline were able to enjoy greater sales volume, increased authorizations and lower operating costs. “While we provide a global payments platform, we fully realize the value of localization and enabling rapid entry into emerging markets. We work with our clients, many of which are online travel companies, to expand their reach, improve sales conversion and authorization rates, and minimize payment related costs and administration,” said Martin Sunnerstig, General Manager at Worldline Sweden.
By providing a localized payment experience in Brazil for big-name travel and hospitality clients, Worldline was able to lift authorization rates, which were averaging 40-45% with the traditional cross-border model, to a localized model that produced up to a 100% improvement. As a result, we were able to deliver a significant return on investment in time for the Rio Olympics. Worldline continues to deliver business value for its clients in the online travel and hospitality industry, finding opportunities to further reduce costs, support expansion into other countries and enable additional payment methods. No other company can offer as many global payment solutions as Worldline. While most companies rely on multiple vendors to process payments using different payment models (cross-border, money remittance and a pure local/ domestic entity), Worldline can support you through every stage of your global payment expansion.