How to choose the perfect payment gateway for your tour or activity business

Posted by Maria Eduarda Possamai on Jun 3, 2016

If you’ve decided to start selling your tours and activities online with TrekkSoft, you are already able to get up to 40% more bookings. But to reach that number, you have to make one crucial decision: which payment gateway will you choose? It’s one of the most important factors that make or break an online sale. A payment gateway is a system that validates your customer’s credit card details securely via a stable connection, to make sure that enough funds are available to make the payment.

Since a payment gateway plays such a vital role on your website, it can be a hard decision to make. We will help you to understand how it works and the different factors to be considered when deciding on the right option for your business, ultimately delighting your customers.


What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is a service that authorizes all online payments. To make this happen, your customers will submit their credit card information at checkout, where the information is passed on to the merchant and after that, to the bank. Finally, the payment gateway tells you if the charge has been approved, and if it does, that amount will be cleared. That is the moment when the payment amount is deducted from your customer’s account and deposited into your merchant account.

So, the role of the payment gateway is to decline or approve a transaction, while the merchant account is where your charges are held before it is deposited into your bank account. Technically, you would need both a merchant account and a payment gateway to accept online payments, but usually, you can count on Payment Service Providers (PSP) to act as both. That means that what we call ‘payment gateways’ are actually PSPs. That is the case for well-known services such as PayPal and Stripe.

To make it easier, let's just call it a Payment Gateway. But now that you know the technical difference, remember to check if the service you choose offers a merchant account as well.

Payment Gateway

How to integrate a payment gateway onto your website?

There are two ways to integrate a payment gateway onto  your website: hosted and non-hosted options.

  • A hosted payment gateway redirects your customer to the gateway's page, with a different URL and domain. Basically, a separate website altogether. Once the payment is made, the customer will return to your website. It is a quick and safe option, one that reduces the risk of storing credit card information and facilitating transactions. However, your customer will need to take extra steps to confirm their order. Typically, this is a good option for small to medium sized companies.
  • A non-hosted payment gateway allows your customers to enter their details without leaving your website. This option simplifies the the payment process a great deal as it skips yet another login or registration process. However, it requires more time and responsibility to set up. This is commonly used by larger corporate businesses.


What to consider when choosing a payment gateway?

With so many types of payment gateways to choose from, it is necessary to analyze various points to be able to choose the service provider that best suits the needs of your company.

Here are a few details you should pay close attention to:

  • Compatibility: If you already have a website, you need to first make sure that the prospective system integrates with your current platform, host server and account solutions that you are using. If you don't have one yet, it is also important that the gateway can be easily integrated onto different web platforms so that the checkout process remains delightful for your customers.
  • Security: When it comes to accepting online payments, security couldn't be more essential. The chosen gateway should conform to all payment industry security standards. Among them is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), which allows the payment gateway legally store payment card data, ensuring the security of their transactions. Furthermore, although payment gateways are not responsible for protecting frauds, usually they offer automated tools capable of identifying suspicious transactions such as filters to define who or where you receive payments from. It is generally good practice to ensure they have the advanced solutions to protect your card payments and minimize fraudulent transactions.
  • Support: Working online means that you can face problems at any time. That is why counting on a gateway that provides good technical support makes all the difference. Look for a payment gateway that offers support when you need it and in a way you can easily get it. Check which options of support they offer, such as e-mail and phone, and if you would need to pay any extra fees for that. You may even try to contact the company and see for yourself the quality of their service before giving them your business.
  • Payment methods: There are many options to accept online payments, but no single payment gateway will support all of them. So find out which payment methods and credit card types your target market uses and try to find a payment gateway that suits their needs.
  • Features: Extra features can also influence your decision greatly when choosing a payment gateway. For example, panels and management reports, analysis of sales information in real time, or more advanced features such as purchase in 1 click, allowing customers to make a payment with multiple cards and so on.
  • Prices: Probably the most complicated but definitely the most important factor, the price of payment gateways involve several components. In general, you will need to pay a setup fee, transaction costs, and admin fees. So, ask to see a full breakdown of the fees and make sure that you understand the fee structure and length of the contract. You can use a comparison website such as PaymentBrain to get an overview of the fees.

In general, to choose the best payment gateway you have to find out exactly what your company needs and what your target market prefers. Having that in mind, list all the deciding factors down and make a comparison. Remember to consider all those important factors because if you simply choose the cheapest option, you may have other problems in the future.

Payment Gateway

TrekkSoft helps you to accept online payments

Our own payment gateway is made specifically for tour and activity companies, accepting major world currencies and transferring the payments directly into your bank account. We also offer a "charge later" feature that allows you to approve or cancel a booking before the payment is processed, according to the availability of places per tour.

When it comes to integration, you don’t have to worry: TrekkSoft customers can rely on various payment solutions. We also work with other major payment gateways, such as PayPal and Stripe.   


If you need any help or advice, request a demo with our team of experts and find out how to accept payments from all over the world and manage your business from anywhere. 


Request a TrekkSoft demo

Maria Eduarda Possamai

Written by Maria Eduarda Possamai

Brazilian social media analyst and content writer who likes traveling, camping and listening to some good music. You may call her Duda.

Topics: Marketing tips, Business advice

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