LatAm Travel Gets Booking Boost from Cross-Border Platforms

As more consumers and companies size up Latin America for its ample opportunities, the need for speedy cross-border payments, aided by localization, will be close behind and key to unlocking that potential.

This is particularly true for international travel into the region, as well as domestic travel throughout it. Worldline Sales Director, Airlines and Travel, Americas, Virginia Cicchini told PYMNTS her company is tracking these trends and working to enable payments to move fast and freely there, with a focus on localization.

In a complex maze of solutions, she said Worldline goes for simplicity with a single API integration that frees airlines, online travel agencies and hospitality firms from a lot of individual integrations, while significantly streamlining both bookings and payments.

“It’s important for global merchants to not have to maintain each one of these integrations,” she said, noting that there is already more than one player in each market. For redundancy purposes, it’s important to have that capability of alternating between different acquirers to get broader access to the market.

Integrating with a platform that has been built with regional differences in mind makes it “easier, faster, and [more] efficient to scale up internationally,” she said, “so your time to market is going to be much quicker. We have a global scope, and with one API, it saves time and money for companies to expand globally, and it makes it much more efficient.”

On the flexibility front, she said, it’s much the same principle at work. “We can customize depending on an entity’s structure in each geography. Travel merchants can have local entities in some countries and not in others. So, we can combine different solutions to access those markets.”

See also: Value of Local Expertise Underestimated in Expanding Cross-Border Commerce

Localization, RTP and Redundancy

Payments localization is a driving force in sector growth for travel and hospitality in LatAm markets, as is the case from Asia-Pacific to the EMEA nations — pretty much everywhere.

What companies from outside Latin America are discovering, as they are in other emerging high-growth markets, is the need for “boots on the ground” to transact locally regardless of where you’re doing it from. Consumers and businesses prefer this approach for the favorable currency conversion and speed localization it offers.

“If you don’t have a local entity, we have a cross-border solution. If you do because you’re already strong in that market, we can provide redundancy with local players,” she said. “That is a big win. On the other hand, there’s also a different solution that combines all the reporting so you can do the front end and back end. Combining the operational aspect of it is really important.”

Worldline is has also brought real-time payments into its ecosystem — another big win in LatAm nations like Brazil, whose PIX real-time rail is seeing strong adoption and usage.

“We have recently included PIX, which is the big instant payment method in Brazil. It has gained a lot of popularity, which is a big differentiator for the Brazilian market,” Cicchini said. “The same product in Mexico, which is CoDi, is not as popular. Neither is MODO in Argentina. Each country is unique, and how each local payment is used and adopted by consumers is different.”

As a Europe-based PSP specialized in payments across several high-growth emerging markets globally, Worldline developed a local footprint where we can work in mixed models of processing locally with local acquirers and partners, or processing internationally with international schemes. “That combination allows us to, through different models, to offer local payments to consumers everywhere in the world.”

Innovation in the region is also embracing buy now, pay later (BNPL) installments in a big way. And Cicchini added, “It’s not only about PIX and alternative payment methods. Credit cards with installment capabilities are key in our market across different countries.

“Being able to provide that service without having a local entity is very important,” letting consumers pay in their currency, whichever it may be, she said.

See also: The Global Commerce Tracker®

Orchestrating Travel Demand

With travel showing a robust comeback in Latin America this year, airlines, OTAs and hospitality firms want every edge they can get in tapping into that resurgent demand.

To that end, Cicchini said Worldline’s Travel Hub orchestration layer is helping companies inside and outside the region get offers to market faster and with less cost — another win.

That capability “facilitates direct integration from GDS such as Sabre, Navitaire, Amadeus or other hospitality systems like SynXis,” she said. “Aside from having a direct integration from a merchant to us, they can also leverage airlines or hotels or OTAs with that integration that we already have upstream.”

It results in faster time to market, and facilitates airlines, for example, reaching different markets via a variety of options. Despite talk of recession, timing is good for this solution.

“We have seen that travel is back in the region. The latest numbers I’ve been looking at [say travel is] going to finish 2022 with at least 95% of pre pandemic 2019 [bookings]. The initial IATA statistics were expecting the levels to be back to 2019 only in 2024. It’s actually accelerating, which is great news because we have suffered throughout two years,” she said.