The US dollar has hit an eleven year high, with forecasts and data saying that the economy is coming back in full force. This is great news for the travel industry as Airlines for America (an advocacy group that boasts such members as Alaska, Delta, and Southwest Airlines, along with UPS, Fedex, and many more) reports that Spring 2015 air travel is the highest its been in 7 years. This is great news for vacation rental companies, and a perfect reason to reach out to past guests about why they should include you in their Spring and Summer travel plans.
Speaking of the dollar and airlines, UATP (a payment network for airlines) announced that it will begin offering its members the ability to accept Bitcoin as payment for flights. (Bitcoin is a digital currency that is more secure and efficient than credit cards and other forms of online payment.)
Facebook also threw its hat in the ring saying that it will soon allow its users to send money to each other over the Facebook instant messaging app. Imagine if Facebook becomes a viable booking channel for vacation rentals with the ability for the guest to pay for their stay, write reviews, upload pictures, and share it all with their friends. Which vacation rental software company will be the first to integrate with Facebook?
And speaking of mobile payments, airlines, travel companies, and some hotels are already starting to gear offerings and integration with the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch uses Apple Pay which is already accepted by many banks and stores as a method of payment. (As of March 3rd there are over 100 banks, credit unions, and credit/debit cards partnered with Apple for Apple Pay. Including Visa, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase.)
Why is this relevant to vacation rentals? Without knowing how it will all shake out, I feel pretty confident in predicting that in 5 years, 10 at the absolute outside, a significant portion of customers will expect to be able to pay for their travel and lodging via mobile devices, using some form of digital currency like Apple Pay or Bitcoin.
Think I’m dreaming? Consider this; the first generation iPhone was released on June 29, 2007, almost eight years ago. In that eight years, smartphones have completely revolutionized our day to day lives. How we communicate, how we interact with the world, how we get our news, find places to eat, and even read books. (I have a Kindle app on my iPhone so that I can read a book anywhere I find myself with time to kill.) Both the Dept of Justice and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke have commented on the legitimacy, increased security and efficiency of digital currencies like Bitcoin. Time will ultimately tell, but mobile devices, mobile payments, and digital currency aren’t going away. They will become more and more integrated into our lives, and those companies that profit the most will be those that recognize this and use it to provide value and ease to the customers. They don’t have to be the first, just the best.
Until next week.