Following Luxe Hotels’ announcement that its Los Angeles and Beverly Hills hotels will be the first in the area to accept WeChat Pay and Alipay, its regional general manager Adam Sydenham explained the decision to accept the popular Chinese mobile payment apps in terms of the boutique Luxe Hotels’ desire to provide “a frictionless experience” for all guests.
“Traveling can be very stressful, so we try to do all we can to reduce that stress and enable guests to enjoy the experience,” he says. “For many of our international travelers, that means offering mobile payment solutions like WeChat Pay and Alipay, which provide an easier and more convenient forum for doing business.”
The international travelers who are the focus of this particular initiative are those from China, which Sydenham calls “the first currency-less market.” The importance of meeting the needs and expectations of this sizable market by providing services they are accustomed to in their home country, he says, cannot be understated. “In 2016 alone, about 1 million Chinese tourists visited Los Angeles, and 1.5 billion customers are active on either WeChat Pay or Alipay. That’s a lot of travelers and we want to be part of it.”
Sydenham says being a small boutique hotel brand has enabled Luxe Hotels to adapt quickly to their guests’ changing needs, finding ways to mitigate the inherent stresses in travel, in this case, by accommodating the method of payment they prefer. “We pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve, understanding what guests need—possibly before even they are even aware of it. For example, we introduced valet parking on Rodeo Drive, which has been great both for our hotel and the community.”
As of November 2017, this initiative had yet to become operational. However, Sydenham says the early indications are decidedly positive. “We are getting a lot of chatter. People are excited that we will be accepting these payment apps.” He also stresses that although an upturn in sales as a result of this move would be welcome, it is secondary to their overarching customer service goals. “Our primary reason is to provide greater convenience for guests from China.”
Sydenham observes that while China may be the first country to turn away from currency and credit cards, he expects the trend to grow. “Hotels are moving away from presenting credit cards on arrival, and an increasing number of guests are using American equivalents of Alipay and WeChat Pay, such as Apple’s Apple Pay,” he notes.
The newly accepted payment services, which are provided through a partnership with the cross-border mobile payment solution Citcon, were available for guests of the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel and Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel starting December 2017.
Photo: Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel