Industry Update
Opinion Article 2 November 2016

Is hidden cash in hotel rooms a sign of changing payment demands from customers?

By Jennifer Conneely, Board Member of the DCC Forum

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The way that British holidaymakers like to pay has been changing for many years, but it's become clear that Brits simply don't like having to bring large quantities of foreign currency on their travels. They worry about taking it out with them for fear of being a victim of a crime in a potentially unfamiliar city, but they also worry about leaving any in their hotel rooms. Research that we carried out in association with CensusWide this summer found that 1 in 8 Brits opted to keep all of their foreign currency with them at all times so that they didn't have to leave any in their room, while 1 in 3 said that they made a conscious effort to keep the amount of cash taken on holiday to an absolute minimum.


Bizarrely, only 43% leave their cash in a provided safe or security box. Whether it's because they don't understand how the safes provided work or because they're not provided in the first place, tourists are turning to increasingly creative ways to hide their money in hotels. 16% said that they hid their holiday money in their suitcase, while 3% opted for under the bed, and a further 3% in the bathroom. 9% hid their cash in an item of clothing, and for 7%, this was either stashed in a sock or rolled up in their underwear. No doubt those working in hotels could add further anecdotes when it comes to guests hiding their cash.

What this highlights more generally though is that Brits don't want to use cash for the bulk of their holiday transactions. It makes them feel nervous and they spend time identifying a suitable hiding place instead of enjoying their time in hotels and exploring the destination.

In response to this, hotels should ensure that they're prepared for their guests to make the majority of their payments using credit or debit cards, or even newer ways of paying such as contactless or smartphone payments. Our research found that 1 in 3 Brits no longer buy any foreign currency before heading abroad on their holidays. 62% have made at least one payment on holiday this last year with a credit or debit card, while 6% have made a contactless payment, and 3% a smartphone payment.

As the use of credit and debit cards in hotels continues to rise, those in the hospitality industry need to be able to inform their customers as to the payment options available to them. This includes the choice between opting to make a card payment in the local currency, or in their home currency using dynamic currency conversion (DCC).

British tourists have been quick to embrace a more cashless society, but they are not alone. People from all over the world want a more secure way of paying than cash, and hotels need to be ready to provide these services. Even the biggest hotels need to ensure that all of their staff understand these nuances and do everything they can to help their customers not have to stash their cash in their socks any longer.

Jennifer Conneely

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