Fall is nearly here — the customary time when most vacation ownership companies begin billing for the annual maintenance fee, which averages about $1,090, according to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) most recent State of the Industry report.
While the traditional fall billing time remains in place, other billing and payment shifts are accelerating to bring vacation ownership up to speed with other industries that offer omnichannel communication and payment solutions.
We’re seeing more timeshare companies provide the trifecta of good billing and payment practices: a combination of print and electronic bill presentment, digital payment options from credit cards to ACH and the ability to pay using interactive voice response (IVR) on phones.
Combining digital billing and payments with IVR is a win for both the consumer and the resort. Resorts can offer a mobile-friendly payment portal with such features as automatically syncing stored payment information for online and IVR payments and providing owners the option to enroll in paperless billing.
With electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) options, the consumer gets convenience and flexibility. EBPP works seamlessly with electronic bills delivered through email, text and mobile wallet. It takes just one or two clicks or taps to move from the digital statement to online account management and payments.
Nearly half of consumers want digital billing statements compared to 24% who prefer paper and 28% who prefer a combination of digital and paper statements, according to ACI Speedpay Pulse. When it comes to making a payment, a sizeable 78% of consumers made some type of digital payment in 2020, and digital engagement has only deepened since then due to COVID-19, according to McKinsey.
When using IVR or online payments, consumers can save time by creating a profile with payment information that can be used each time they’re ready to pay, eliminating the need to repeatedly enter payment details. Dynamic payment plans allow for recurring payments established by companies that offer owners a monthly or quarterly payment option for maintenance fees, a practice that’s becoming more common.
With digital billing and payments and IVR, the resort saves money on postage, printing and call center personnel. Because annual maintenance fees are sent to many timeshare properties at the same time, industry call centers can become overwhelmed with phone calls from owners wanting to make a payment by phone. With IVR, owners can be prompted to choose from a menu of payment options that doesn’t require a resort representative to complete the transaction.
Resorts can save $7 to $9 anytime an owner doesn’t need to speak to one of their reps. Less human contact also is more secure. Plus, payments made by IVR or digital are processed faster than paper checks, improving resort cashflow.
Four ways to go digital with payments
When transferring the payment process to a vendor, resorts should look for quick implementation, broad API capabilities, easy integration and scalability. Importantly, vendors should be PCI Level 1 compliant for peace of mind that they are fully capable of handling online security and compliance for digital billing and payments.
With Nordis, resorts have three options for initiating digital payments:
- A resort can set up a branded online payment site that can be powered by a third party, such as our ExpressoPay® solution. Owners receive a link to that site, create a profile, see their bills, select and store a payment method, set up recurring automated payments, and handle other account management. ExpressoPay can also be configured to accept one-time payments, no profile required. This is particularly effective for maintenance fee payments that often happen only once per year.
- A resort can create a single sign-on system where owners that are logged into their pre-existing owner portal can click over to the ExpressoPay portal without having to sign in a second time.
- Another option is hosting your own payment user experience within the owner portal and connecting to ExpressoPay’s API for payment processing. This puts ExpressoPay “under the hood” to power the payment process and compliance, while allowing the biller to create its own online user experience.
With cloud-based Expresso® and ExpressoPay, companies get the best of both worlds – customer communications management software for digital and print and mail services plus a state-of-the-art solution for handling online and phone-based digital payments.
Of course, digital experiences for timeshare billing and payments shouldn’t be limited to maintenance fees. By combining an owner’s maintenance billing, other club fees and a mortgage account in one owner experience with an intuitive UI from an expert payment engine provider, resorts can deliver the ultimate convenience and flexibility for owners.