Advancing Innovation to Better Support the Travel and Tourism Sector
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Advancing Innovation to Better Support the Travel and Tourism Sector

Guest Editorial by Chiara Quaia - SVP, Travel Industries, Mastercard

As the travel and tourism sector looks ahead to 2023, insights from the Mastercard Economic Institute give organisations across the travel value chain a lot to feel positive about. While broader economic pressures remain challenging over the months to come, consumers have emerged from a couple of years of restrictions with an appetite to travel. And with events like the Airline & Travel Payments Summit and IATA World Financial Symposium back in person, business travel is back with a force.

Over seven years ago, we launched the Mastercard Wholesale Program, a virtual card solution developed specifically to support wholesale travel transactions. We committed to evolve the solution based on industry feedback, so in 2019 we expanded it to provide new lower product tiers offering even more flexibility.

A lot has happened in the sector since 2019, which is why we’ve again listened to our partners and customers and taken steps to enhance the product further to meet what the industry needs now. What we heard is that control and flexibility mean more now than ever. That at a time of prioritization and re-focus on initiatives that drive sustainable growth and enhance liquidity, the sector doesn’t want more solutions, more products, and complex integrations. What we heard is that one size doesn’t fit all needs and that simplicity is essential.

We took that feedback on and have again evolved the Mastercard Wholesale Program to deliver just that. While the solution continues to deliver all the benefits you would associate with Mastercard’s pioneering virtual card technology, you’ll no longer hear us talk about the number of product tiers – instead as an industry you tell us what you need and we’ll take action. Through enhancements to the solution, you will integrate only once, and we will implement a dynamic structure that is tailored exactly to your volume, market and currency needs.

Card payment technology continues to provide benefits across the travel ecosystem, including travel agencies, airlines, issuing banks, acquirers and consumers.  Payment networks like Mastercard provide a secure and safe environment with clear structured rules and regulations. Easy access to secure credit, real time authorisation and payment protection boosts cashflow which empowers travel buyers and suppliers to run and grow their businesses, while realizing increased resilience across the entire travel value chain.

As organisations across the ecosystem continue to address legacy challenges associated with manual business-to-business payment methods, the Mastercard Wholesale Program leverages proven virtual card technology to deliver multiple benefits. And it is already being used by over 400,000 travel merchants. Here’s how travel agencies and suppliers are benefitting:

1 – Flexibility; Onboard once and talk to us about a dynamic structure to support your volumes.
2 – Control; Tailored tiers for different markets, currencies, and type of provider.
3 – Protection; Protect all wholesale transactions through a standard card guarantee.
4 – Acceptance; Available to all travel issuers.
5 – Mutual growth; Through closer supplier, buyer, and banking partner relationships.

The pandemic has been an accelerator for innovation, forcing regulatory change and organisational re-prioritization. There is no going back to the normal of 2019; instead, we need to move forward into 2023 with innovation that supports the need of the travel and tourism sector now.

Digital transformation is the name of the game, and we have no time to waste. As we see consumer needs changing, and their willingness to adopt new products, services, and relationships rises, we as technology enablers should reflect on that change from a market perspective and reboot travel payments to offer greater flexibility and protection at every point of interaction across the travel value chain.

This willingness to evolve will ultimately steer how commercial payments continue to power the travel economy and drive sustainable growth through 2023 and beyond.

If you’d like to hear more about how the Mastercard Wholesale Program could benefit your organization, please connect with me directly on LinkedIn or contact Mastercard’s B2B Travel team at We look forward to hearing from you and working with you as Mastercard continues to be your travel innovation partner.


Chiara Quaia
SVP, Travel Industries

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