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How to Choose the Perfect Payment Gateway for Your Outdoor Property

How To Choose The Perfect Payment Gateway

Ready to start accepting secure payments at your outdoor property but have no idea where to begin? Don’t worry - you’ve got plenty of options to choose from, and we're here to guide you through the essential considerations to ensure you make the best decision for your business. 

Understanding How Payment Gateways Work 

If you’re running an outdoor property, like an RV park, campground, or marina, you’ll likely want to take payments in person and for online bookings. The 2023 Generational Report found that 49% of campers surveyed prefer to make their reservations completely online, so you’ll need a payment gateway – a necessary tool for accepting online payments – to ensure you’re not missing out on bookings. 

A payment gateway is an eCommerce application that enables businesses to authorize & process credit card payments in a PCI compliant manner. PCI Compliance is a set of security standards that businesses must use when accepting credit card payments and transmitting, processing, and storing the data. 

Payment gateways work by verifying your guest’s card information, while the payment processor is responsible for submitting the payment to the card network or bank to process the transaction. Some payment gateways only work with specific processors, so if you have a processor in mind, make sure you’re checking for gateway compatibility. 

Selecting the Right Payment Gateway for Your Property

Now that we’ve clarified the distinctions between payment gateways and payment processors, and the necessity for both for most outdoor properties, let's delve into the factors you should take into account when seeking the perfect fit.  

Just like your business, payment gateways aren’t one size fits all. You'll need a payment gateway that fits the unique needs of your outdoor property, like compatibility with your property management system (PMS) provider, available features and hardware, a price that’s within your budget, support and resource offerings, and a partnership with the payment processor that’s also a good fit for you. 

While conducting your research on payment gateways, be sure to consider the following:  

  • Availability With Your PMS Provider – A good way to narrow down your search right away is to identify what your actual options are. Payment gateway options vary from PMS provider to PMS provider, so make sure you check with your software provider for a list of compatible gateways.
  • Location Access – Be sure to check whether the payment gateway you’re interested in is located where you do business. Some gateways are only available in specific countries or regions, so if you have campgrounds across the US, Mexico, and Canada, make sure your gateway works in each of these countries. 
  • Compatible Payment Processors – Like we mentioned above, make sure that the payment gateway you select is compatible with a payment processor that fits your needs. If you’re set on offering contactless pay solutions to your guests, like Apple Pay or QR codes, for example, ensure this is available within the processors that work with the payment gateway you’re considering. Some gateways provide processing too, so you may find one bundled solution that meets your needs that will act as both a payment gateway and processor. 
  • Specific Features and Functionality – Make sure you’re getting exactly what your business requires. Since the gateways work with different processors, each one will offer you various functionalities. While doing research, make sure you check for gateway/processor features like hardware compatibility, available currencies, token storage, QR code and other hands-free options, and refund options. 
  • Support & Resources – Outdoor hospitality never sleeps, so it's important that your payment gateway provider’s support is reachable when you need them. Does the payment gateway or processor have technical phone support? Do they offer a library of user-friendly resources? Depending on the technical features of your system, troubleshooting can be a pain especially if your PMS provider is not natively compatible with your gateway. 
  • Ongoing & One-Time Fees – Make sure the price is right. Payment gateways and processors have their own range of ongoing and one-time fees. While you’re getting a quote, be sure you aren’t signing up for anything you don’t really need or that doesn’t fall within your budget. Fees to look out for include per-transaction, implementation, chargeback, and address verification fees, to name a few.  

Once you feel confident in your payment gateway choice, you’ll likely have to contact the gateway provider directly to set up your payment services. Can’t find contact information? Your PMS provider may be able to help point you in the right direction.  

Selecting a payment gateway for your RV park, campground, or marina may seem overwhelming at first; however, if you’re equipped with a comprehensive understanding of how payment gateways and processors work, which options are compatible with your PMS provider, what your specific feature requirements are, and how much you’re willing to spend, you’ll find the perfect match in no time.  

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