How to take booking deposits in your pub this summer

Small Business Advice 30 April 2021
Pub beer garden

During the course of 2020 and still to the present day, pub and restaurant owners are pivoting at lightning speeds to survive. 

Takeaway pints are now ubiquitous – but at one point pouring a Guinness into a plastic cup was (and perhaps still is for some) sacrilege.

As April marked an end to some of the restrictions, it left thirsty punters across England flocking back to pubs in their masses to savour the taste of a freshly pulled pint in a glass. 

But it wasn’t, and still isn’t easy for bar and pub owners to organise the thousands of people that want to drink in their limited and even makeshift outdoor spaces. 

Not only do pub owners now have to hire and train staff for table service, but they need to actively manage their footfall, through a booking system – we appreciate it’s no small feat.

With more and more brands becoming digital-first, there are a few different ways to manage bookings, including Instagram. But the most common ways to take bookings are typically: 

  1. Over the phone
  2. Online on your website 
  3. Via email 

Whatever the method, it’s important that pubs can support payments with their bookings, with or without an ecommerce website. This means they can take customer deposits to prevent no-shows at such a critical time of trading. 

But asking customers for their cash upfront isn’t always easy and rightly so. Potential customers can be put off or worried about their security. 

Find out about remote card payments, and how to take secure bookings, via the phone, or email without needing an ecommerce website, in our guide below. 

We’ll start by explaining the difference between face-to-face and remote payments.

Can you take card payments without the cardholder or the card present?

The short answer is yes. They’re called card not present (CNP) transactions and they can be taken over the phone or via email, via keyed entry. They can even be taken in person, if the cardholder doesn’t have their physical card to enter the card machine, but knows their account details – this is less likely to occur though. 

Types of CNP transactions include:

  • Online payments (ecommerce)
  • Payments over the phone or via email
  • Online invoices
  • Recurring payments or standing orders

Are there differences between card not present transactions and card present ones?

The main difference between processing card present and non-present transactions comes down to security. As the cardholder is not present when the card is being used to process the transaction there is an added fraud risk. 

One example of CNP fraud is when a card holder has their card stolen and it’s used to purchase things online. 

Because of this added fraud risk, there is an extra cost for merchants that choose to process these transactions. But the good news is that there are ways to reduce this risk of fraud, and therefore cut down these transaction costs.

The difference in cost comes down to the type of CNP transaction you make. 

The difference between remote payments and keyed-in CNPs

If a pub owner wants to take a customer’s deposit payment over the phone, they could do it two ways:

Using a virtual terminal 

A virtual terminal is a web-based payment system – think of it as a digitalised card machine that can safely take card payments from customers who are not present in your store. 

With a Paymentsense virtual terminal you can login to an online payment gateway and safely enter your customers’ card details, address and amount payable. This will process the payment safely and allows you to process a proof of payment.  

Because the payment is processed in the online gateway, which acts as an online card machine, it adds an extra level of security. Protocols such as secure sockets layer (SSL) and card verification value (CVV) help prevent sensitive cardholder data from being hacked.

These extra levels of security help to minimise the level of CNP fraud, so the cost of payments for merchants is reduced.

By keying-in customer card details over the phone

If a customer calls up to book a table and a merchant needs to take a deposit, but doesn’t have a virtual terminal they will need to manually enter the cardholder’s details into a physical card machine. This costs more than using the virtual terminal as there is a higher fraud and security risk. 

If you’re a pub or restaurant owner, you’ll want to minimise the amount of keying-in CNP transactions you make, as the rates are more expensive and they’re less secure for your customers. 

So, if over the course of 2021 you’re going to take advance bookings with a deposit, it’s a good idea to invest in a virtual terminal.

With Paymentsense we can set you up quickly and easily within just 3 days. Find out more about our secure and fuss-free virtual terminal offering here.

Taking payments via email

Often phone payments can be timely and mean an extra pair of hands in an already busy environment. To take some pressure off of staff hospitality owners can set up email payments from customers to secure a booking. Best of all, you don’t need a website or ecommerce platform to achieve it. 

Using the same virtual terminal and online payment gateway, you can log-in and create a unique and secure payment link to send to your customers, via email or SMS if you would prefer. 

The customer can then pay their deposit safely and you’ll be notified when they do, giving both of you a receipt and proof of payment. 

Taking a holding deposit 

Some pubs ask their customers to pay a booking deposit, then deduct that payment amount from their final bill. This works for most places but isn’t the only option for the hospitality sector. 

If you have a Paymentsense virtual terminal, this allows you to do a pre-authorisation. This is a temporary hold on your customer’s card, allowing you to receive funds at a later date, should you need to. Typically you can hold a pre-authorisation for around five days, but it depends on your merchant category code (MCC). 

Why are pre-authorisations used?

Pre-authorisations are used to secure payment without taking the full amount due from the customer. They’re commonly used in hotels at the booking stage, so that the customer can pay for the full amount of their stay when they check-in or out. 

Preauthorisations can also be used in pubs or restaurants to secure bookings and reduce the number of no-shows. 

Customers can give their card details for a holding deposit. This is essentially an agreement that if they do not show up to their reservation the pub owner/management can release the deposit from their bank account. If the customer turns up, no funds will be taken and the pre-authorisation is ended. 

  So if you’ve just reopened your pub or restaurant and you need to take bookings with secure remote payments, find out more about the benefits of a Paymentsense virtual terminal today.

Or if you’re yet to accept card payments altogether, check out our range of card machines.

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