Written by: Jennifer Jones — Official HITEC® Minneapolis 2019 Guest Blogger
As a continuing trend at HITEC again this year, I find myself still infatuated with finding the most secure, well-integrated, user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing ability to chip credit cards with your PMS and POS. I know there are solutions out there — but there always seems to be one missing link for the everyday merchant to be able to seamlessly adopt it. It requires a processor change, a software swap, or new hardware. I end up begrudgingly placing big clunky devices that are intended to be client facing on the brand-new contemporary-chic front desk, but instead we still handle the guest’s card and chip it ourselves. So, my quest for the perfect solution will continue as I attend HITEC 2019 in Minneapolis.
Recently I spent an evening at a comedy club in my hometown of Denver. The comedian was knee-slapping hilarious, and the staff kept busy tending to the audience, refreshing drinks and providing snacks. I was quite impressed on how they handle walking around in the dark theater without tripping and acknowledging when someone needed a refill on their beverage. Servers were all outfitted with POS tablets and could easily take orders efficiently and get them fulfilled quickly.
However, it was when the show was ending and checks needed to be closed where I was shockingly surprised on how payment was taken. Needless to say, my credit card was not laughing when I had to hand her over to my server. It was placed in a guest check holder with the itemized receipt, to only be stacked upon 20 other checks and whisked away behind the magical black curtain where apparently the infamous credit card machine sat. To think of how abandoned and scared my special and unique 15-digit friend felt made me feel I was a bad mom.
Approximately 15 minutes later, the server reappeared with 20 plastic trays stacked on top of one another including checks for signature and our invaluable little pieces of plastic (or steel, if you’re an extra-special mom). It is beyond me how, in the dark, she was able to distinguish which tray got delivered to which person so that the correct credit card and check fell into the correct owner’s hands. I am sure there is some sort of organization that goes on behind the magical curtain. But honestly, I think that’s a huge risk for the merchant to take, as a mistake could mean a guest walks out with someone else’s credit card that has $10,000 more available credit than their own. With the fantastic tablets and ordering process this establishment has, I am baffled as why they can’t have a mobile payment solution.
On a separate experience, I was traveling abroad recently to London. I had prepaid my hotel reservation through Expedia. When I checked in, the agent wanted to take my credit card to authorize and hold an amount for incidentals. She took my card and chipped it into a wireless payment device. She called it a “PDQ” which made me giggle as it’s not a common term we use here in the United States, at least not in credit card terminology. I only remember that “PDQ” meant “Pretty Damn Quick!”. Therefore, I had to look it up to find out what the acronym meant. To my amusement it means “Process Data Quickly”. (I think I prefer my acronym.)
I asked her if the $50 authorization she was taking actually integrated with the PMS. She stated that it was completely separate. From the wireless handheld device, she had to manually type in the amount, handle my card and chip it herself. The “PDQ” had a printer attached to it. A receipt appeared for my signature for the approved hold on my credit card. The skinny receipt was stapled and filed in the registration card bucket. That process would make for an intriguing way to run a High Credit Limit report in the PMS. I did not dare ask how they make sure folio balances don’t exceed the credit limit.
All this scenario lacks is an integrated experience with the PMS. It definitely didn’t hinder the guest check-in experience, per se, but I think it burdens the front desk and accounting staff with having to cross-check and reconcile payments collected from the payment device and manually posting them in the PMS. It could become a guest service issue if the payments are not reconciled correctly. This similar scenario was repeated when I dined out in London, where the bar had a wireless payment device, but it was not integrated with a very familiar POS that is widely utilized here in the states.
So, HITEC 2019 — I am going to be running the exhibit hall aisles looking for improvements on secure payments!
Jennifer Jones is president at J2 Hospitality Solutions. She is an official event guest blogger for HITEC Minneapolis 2019, taking place June 17–20 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. Check back on HFTP Connect for more of Jennifer’s experiences at HITEC this year.