Hotel companies that are not part of
Riot Games’ program, such as Marriott
International, also have been challenging. Marriott requires corporates to use
the hotel company’s own authorization
form to complete a virtual card payment.
Hilton and Marriott declined to comment on their plans for virtual card acceptance. MGM Resorts International
could not be reached for comment.
“This goes far beyond AirPlus and
Wex,” Parham said. “This is really between the card providers, aka the banks,
the GDSs and the hotels.” While jaded
by his frustrating experiences, Parham
is not ready to give up. Riot Games will
require hotels to accept AirPlus Virtual
Account as part of its upcoming request
for proposal process in August or September. Those hotels with which Riot
Games has had long-term relationships likely won’t have a problem with
the RFP requirement. “It’s the others …
that we struggle with,” he said.
The payments industry is well aware of
the virtual card acceptance issues and
the outdated and yet nearly universal
requirement to fax a credit card authorization to each hotel for each booking
made with a virtual payment. Travelers
often are stranded when faxes are lost or
misplaced. From payment providers to
hotels and from GDSs to startups, the
industry has taken steps to remedy and
advance the situation.
To decrease lost faxes, providers like
Wex and CSI have created solutions
that automatically fax authorization
forms days before check-in and again
on the arrival day. Others have apps that
allow a traveler to refax the authorization
form with one click and show a digital
version of the card at the front desk.
Sabre vice president of virtual payments
Neil Fyfe said his company is working
on a solution like this within TripCase,
Sabre’s itinerary management app.
But such solutions can be a burden for
smaller hotels. Parham realized that on
one day, 42 Riot Games travelers were
checking into the same small hotel. The
AirPlus/Wex solution generates a fax
two days before check-in and on the day
of check-in, which would have resulted
in 84 faxes. “For some of these hotels, we
put in thousands of room nights a year.
That’s a lot of faxes,” Parham noted.
The goal is to eliminate the need for
faxes. In May 2015, Hotel Technology
Next Generation released the Virtual
Payment Cards Specification standard
to help hotels distinguish virtual card
numbers from traditional cards and pro-
cess them without faxes. But HTNG
COO David Sjolander said adoption
would take several years. “Because the
standards are open to the public, we
often don’t know when they have been
implemented. The head end of the
process for corporate travel will be the
GDSs,” Sjolander said in April. “I tried
to get information from them about six
months ago but was unsuccessful.”
Several other suppliers have taken
matters into their own hands. In July
2015, Choice Hotels International re-
leased its own remedy that allows a trav-
el manager or TMC to populate a field
during the booking process with a code
that indicates a card number is associ-
ated with a virtual card and that Choice
has authorized it. This eliminates the
need for a fax authorization and the
need to request a physical credit card
from the traveler. The solution, however,
is limited to Choice hotels or proper-
ties that use Choice’s Sky Touch cloud-
based property management system.
In June, City Express Hotels became
the first chain in Mexico to process
Conferma virtual cards without requir-
ing fax authorizations. Conferma de-
livers the virtual card numbers to the
hotel through a direct connection to
the application programming interface
of Conferma’s Hotel Booker platform.
Conferma already had fax-free capa-
bility with Premier Inn in the United
Kingdom through a similar connection.
The solution was feasible because City
Express Hotels has a cloud-based sys-
tem that allows it to update all its hotel
reservations systems simultaneously.
“My mission over the next few years
is to figure out universally how to elimi-
nate the fax,” said Grasp Technologies
vice president Dave Lukas. “We’re talk-
ing with a few hotel partners on it now.”
He said Grasp has the ability to send the
card data now through its Secure Con-
nect system, but “some hotels won’t let
us do that directly because maybe they
don’t want us behind their firewall or
don’t want us to connect to their system.”
Meanwhile, credit card networks be-
gan enabling mobile wallets for corpo-
rate card use last year, and the possibil-
ity to merge virtual cards with mobile
wallets may be closer than imagined.
Combining both technologies is “defi-
nitely something that is under review” at
Sabre, according to Fyfe. “Virtual pay-
ments pushed out to mobile wallets is
something we should look forward to in
the not-too-distant future,” he added.
Hotel Technology Next Generation
releases the Virtual Payment Cards
Specification standard to help hotels
distinguish virtual card numbers
from traditional cards and process
them without faxing.
Choice Hotels International
enables travel managers and travel
management companies to enter
a code into a certain field during
booking to indicate that a card
number is a virtual card and that
Choice has authorized the client.
GraspPay enables bookers to use
virtual cards to buy air and hotel
through the global distribution
system or corporate booking tool
without paying a transaction fee.
City Hotel Express becomes the
first chain in Mexico to process
Conferma virtual cards without
requiring fax authorizations.
Will virtual cards merge with