The bookalet system provides you with a number of different options to take and record payments.
Some are traditional, such as cheques or bank transfers. Some are where credit or debit card details are taken over the phone but processed offline. And some are transacted completely online via the likes of PayPal and Online Merchant Services accounts.
Which one you decide to use will depend on a number of different things, not least personal choice. To decide which is best suited to your needs, we have done our best to explain the pros and cons of each method below:
Cheques:The trusted old cheque. Everyone knows and understands how this system works but it's fair to say this is becoming less and less popular. Most people have a cheque book and virtually all Owners can accept payment in this form. The downside is that it's slow, relies on the postal system and can take several days for a cheque to clear.
Bank Transfers:With the advent of online banking many people now have the ability to transfer funds directly into your account. This obviously helps speed up the process, especially when the Guest banks with the same institution as the Owner, as deposits are sometimes cleared on the same day.
BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing Services) and CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System) are two other methods of transferring money directly between banks. BACS transactions are relatively cheap but can take between 3 and 5 days to clear. Conversely, should the transfer be urgent, CHAPS provides a same day service. The downside of CHAPS is that it attracts a hefty bank charge, which can be as much as £30 per transaction.
Credit & Debit Card Over Phone:For Owners who already have a Merchant Services account and the ability to process credit and debit cards using a physical terminal, taking payment over the phone is another option accommodated by the bookalet system.
Clearly, there is comfort in knowing the payment has been processed and immediately approved whilst you have the customer on the phone. Strike whilst the iron is hot, as they say!
The downside is the credit card company will take a commission on every transaction you process and this will either have to be passed on to the client or simply absorbed as an addition cost at your end.
Online Payment via PayPal:For some Owners, the ability for Guests to book and pay for their holidays online is seen as major competitive advantage. The good news is the bookalet system can be configured to accommodate this option.
If you only have the one property and want to take online payments, a simple way of doing this is to use PayPal. It's simple to set up as all you need is a PayPal account configured to accept online purchases.
The commission charges are slightly higher than with a merchant services account (typically 3.4% + 20 pence per transaction) but there are no monthly charges to pay.
Your Guests don't need to have their own PayPal accounts as they can pay through the bookalet Online Booking system with a standard debit or credit card directly into your PayPal account. All payments are then transferred to your bank account within 3 days of the transaction.
Online Payments via Merchant Services Account:Unfortunately, the banking system has not made it particularly easy to set up online payments using Merchant Services. To take credit and debit card payments you'll need three things:
a) Merchant Services Account – This allows you to process credit and debit cards in person or over the phone
b) Internet Merchant Account – An extra requirement if you wish to accept payments online
c) Payment Gateway Account - To process the online transactions
The banks often charge in the region of £100 to set up the Merchant Services agreements and then 2.4% to 3.2% commission on every transaction. In addition, Payment Gateway charges of up to 1% of the transaction value can apply and some providers also charge a monthly service fee in the region of £20. bookalet can be configured to work with a variety of these providers.
Nowadays, it's common for the banks to package everything up and offer you the Payment Gateway and Merchant Services Accounts together. Here at bookalet, we've negotiated an attractive all in one rate with WorldPay of just 1.45% + 15p per transaction. Because of this attractive rate and absence of a monthly fee, we have chosen WorldPay as our preferred payment partner.
There's also a fast track sign up and a first class support desk should you need help during the setup process. The bookalet system can then be configured to accept payments via a selection of Payment Gateway providers.
You can sign up for your Worldpay account here