The 6th edition of the baVel Travel Summit took place on the 22nd and 23rd May in Barcelona with more than 190 professionals from the Travel Industry excited about the opportunity to experience a unique event with a mix of networking activities, talks and round table discussions revolving around innovation in B2B Payments and technological trends related to electronic Invoicing in the sector.

Advances in the implementation of the Open Payment Alliance, a HEDNA initiative, set up to create a specific cannel to process B2B payments for the Travel industry was the star of the show and the best-rated session by the attendees. “Last year we formally announced the OPA, this year we’re talking about the first pilots and next year we’ll be talking about the first success stories” highlighted Xavier Ginesta, Voxel Group’s Chariman.

Ginesta presented the first operational version of the Payment Manager, the equivalent to a Channel Manage for Payments. He talked about the several pilots currently underway involving the participation of various hotel chains and OTAs, where it’s being used to optimize not just VCC flows but also for BTGs (Bank Transfer Guarantees), a new payment method presented as an alternative to virtual cards and offering various advantages for hotels. The main objective of the OPA is to optimize the payment process independently to the booking channel and in the case of BTGs until funds have been deposited in the supplier’s bank account.

VCC’s, the most frequent payment method

In the VCC arena Mastercard, Barclaycard and VISA, the main sponsors of the event, participated together in a panel to discuss virtual cards and their use in the travel industry. The three companies defended the role that cards play today and into the future within the industry. They spoke about the need to continually listen to clients and their requirements in order to continue improving and launching new solutions for the ever-changing industry. Regarding short-term trends in B2B payments, Rohnny Swennen, Director of Mastercard Enterprise Partnerships defended the importance of interconnectivity, integration and data exchange to achieve even greater processing advantages. On their side, José Cuevas, Director Global B2B Partnerships at Visa Business Solutions highlighted the importance of collaboration and working together to create an optimum user experience. David Price, MD, Head of Corporate at Barclaycard Commercial Payments explained that innovation has to stem from the real needs of both the supplier and the buyer with new value-added layers and new and tangible benefits.

In the payments area the summit attendees also got to hear what a technological giant like Amazon had to say. Thomas Gmelch, Head of Travel & Mobility at Amazon Pay, shared with the audience, the need to differentiate oneself in a saturated and price sensitive market, through user experience (UX) and specifically in the Payments process in the Travel industry.

Clients’ feedback as the key to business success

Among the sessions at the baVel Travel Summit this year the hoteliers’ experience was also highlighted, with Javier Mármol, VP Experience & Quality at NH Hotels Group, explaining the process that the hotel chain is going through to modify all of its services based on the feedback they’ve received from their clients. Mármol spoke about the check-in process being totally automated which some of their Hotels are already doing and some of the advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI)

Sergi Mesquida, Automation & Innovation Manager at Hotelbeds, shared with the event’s attendees the current innovation strategies in place at this class-leading bedbank, which stem from internal innovation as much as external innovation, whether it’s collaborating with start-ups or entrepreneurs or purchasing companies that bring added value to their strategy within the sector.

Finally, everything related to PCI/DSS regulation and fraud were the main focus on a panel that combined the vision of a payment provider, Xanderpay, a hotel chain, Meliá Hotels and an OTA, Booking.com. 

The Voxel Awards

The 2nd edition of the Voxel Awards took place at the Summit’s gala dinner. Awards created to recognize the evolution of Voxel’s clients in relation to their very own corporate values. The prizes went to Kuoni GTS in the “Change Lovers” category, Jet2Holidays in the “People Freaks” category, Fastpayhotels in the “Challenge Maniacs” category and finally RIU Hotels & Resorts in the “FUNtasticTeamPlayers” category.

The award ceremony closed the second day of the baVel Travel Summit, where Xavier Ginesta, Voxel’s President exclaimed “the baVel Travel Summit has consolidated itself as the reference event for B2B payments in the travel industry”.

The event also hosted diverse “speed dating” sessions, organizing 140 meetings and a Funworking activity that helped the attendees develop more personal relationships in a relaxed atmosphere in various Barcelona beach bars.

If you missed this year’s event, you can watch some hightlights here: