A Guide to Payment Gateways for Tour Operators


January 20, 2022

4 min read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Offering a secure and reliable payment process is crucial in enhancing the customer experience. From online payments to contactless payments, optimizing your checkout process can give you a leg up on the competition.

Payment gateways offer safe and multiple payment methods, providing the most convenient way for customers to pay for their booking. It’s no wonder that payment gateways have grown to play a prominent role in payments infrastructure.

There is no shortage of payment gateway providers, and it’s a bit of a head-scratcher to pick a platform that works best for your business. You need to consider several factors as you make a decision. Worry not; we have got you covered.

Before we walk you through the factors you need to consider choosing a payment gateway provider, let’s understand payment gateways and how they work.

What are Payment Gateways?

A payment gateway is a system that allows you to accept customers’ card payments. It collects their card information and transmits the data to the payment processing network securely.

When a guest books your tour and makes payment online or in-person using their card or other modes of payment, the payment gateway helps you accept payment by authorizing the card transaction and ensures you get paid. The most common payment gateway providers are PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net.

An explainer for how payment gateway works for tour operators

When you offer in-person services, a payment gateway is built into a point-of-sale (POS) system or card reader that processes the transaction. For online bookings, the cloud-based software connects customers to the operator’s account.

With a payment gateway, you get a reliable and secure payment processing method and give your customers the confidence to do business with you. Also, it enables you to accept international transactions in customers’ preferred currency, helping you expand your business globally. Best of all, it speeds up the checkout process for your guests, offering them a frictionless user experience.

How to Choose a Payment Gateway for Tour Operators

Providing hassle-free payment options​​—online transactions and contactless payments—is more important than ever for tour, activity, and attraction operators. It may not be easy to pick the ideal payment gateway for your business when there are so many options available in the market. Here are some of the essential factors for you to consider.

Geographical Availability

Before choosing a payment gateway provider, check if the provider’s service is available in your country. It is also essential for the payment gateway to support local credit card types of your markets or foreign markets where you intend to promote your tours.

For instance, the most popular payment gateway, Stripe, is known for accepting payments worldwide. However, Stripe does not support merchants domiciled in Africa or Latin America. It is also not available in some Middle Eastern and Asian nations. So, the operators in those countries will have to opt for another payment gateway.


The pricing of the payment gateway depends on various factors such as the transaction volume, the types of payments you accept, and the frequency of transactions. Before you decide, do your homework by reviewing your business needs, the payment processes, and transaction requirements.

Once you know what your business needs, look for a fee structure that fits the bill and stays within your budget. You should also consider the setup fee you may have to pay as a new business. Be well-informed about the service and processing fees and make sure that there are no other hidden costs.

Begin your research with a comparative study of prices using the information available on providers’ websites. Always remember, don’t let the pricing information disappoint you. Depending on your business requirements, you may be able to reach a better deal with the provider.

Hardware Availability

It is not just about online payments. The in-person payments with various hardware, terminals, and credit card readers are also crucial. Your street teams and the front desk staff will have different devices to accept payments.

Choosing a payment gateway compatible with your hardware is inevitable to run transactions flawlessly. Getting buggy platforms may harm the customer experience and make a dent in your reputation.


Your customers trust you with their data. Protecting their sensitive data against possible breaches is of paramount importance. Your customers’ data should be secure with the payment gateway provider, and they should have a safe encrypted environment for payments.

Confirm that the payment gateway compiles with bank-grade security levels like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Keep an eye out for built-in fraud protection features to reduce the risk of fraud.

Seamless Checkout Process

An innovative, easy-to-use customer interface is what you need to make the process flawless for your guests. Any glitches may force them to abandon the booking process.

A robust gateway platform should be able to provide a frictionless checkout process on all devices. It should be optimized for different mobile devices and network types. Besides accepting a wide variety of payments such as major credit cards, debit cards, and digital payments, the payment gateway should be equipped to serve customers in their preferred language.

Customer Support

It’s never a good thing to have a broken payment process. Around-the-clock customer support comes in handy if something goes wrong. Knowing that you have various options available to contact customer support to address your issues is a relief whenever there is a hiccup in the system.

Wrapping Up

When a guest books your tour, the checkout and payment process should be seamless, quick, and secure. Your credibility and reputation will be at stake if you don’t address customers’ security concerns. Also, not offering different payment options could affect your ability to capture more revenue.

The user-friendly interface of a payment gateway could solve these concerns by easing up the checkout process. Most online reservation software has third-party integrations with payment gateway providers. If you make use of these integrations, there will not be much to worry about system compatibility. If you don’t have an online booking system, don’t forget to ensure that the payment gateway is easy to integrate with your website to support your business and enhance the customer experience.

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