Users eyeing tours and attractions no longer need to click away from operators' websites to redeem their SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (SRV).
Payment portal integration is one key way that the five appointed SRV booking platforms have responded to brickbats from consumers and merchants, The Business Times has learnt.
Despite teething problems when the domestic tourism credit scheme went live in December, BT understands that the Singapore Tourism Board has since worked with booking platforms to iron out the kinks and enhance the customer experience.
Citizens can redeem their S$100 in SRV credits by making purchases through five appointed online vendors: Changi Travel Services, GlobalTix, Klook, Traveloka and Trip.com.
Yet homegrown GlobalTix has already integrated its platform with more than 50 merchants. Users can now complete SRV bookings directly on the websites for attractions, such as Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Gardens by the Bay and ArtScience Museum, and hotel and tour operators.
"Merchants can digitalise their business, enable redemption of SRV on their website, manage their capacity, and drive direct traffic to their own channels," said GlobalTix chief commercial officer Leslie Ng.
Similarly, Klook has worked to integrate its software with the booking system of merchants such as AJ Hackett, Big Bus Tours, and Madame Tussauds.
Such a process "enables our customers to have a more efficient, faster experience, from booking through to redemption", according to country general manager Sarah Wan.
These value-added features build on a suggestion from Clive Choo, senior lecturer at Nanyang Business School (NBS) - that platforms allow their digital gateways to be integrated with merchants' own sales portals.
Merchants earlier felt thwarted by the friction in redirecting customers from their websites to the SRV platforms to complete transactions.
Tribe Tours co-founder Jason Loe told BT in early February that some would-be customers end up calling for help when they try to pay on the tour operator's website, which supports only conventional payment modes such as bank transfers.
His staff will have to point users to booking partner Klook instead, said Mr Loe, noting that he would consider adding hyperlinks to Tribe's website.
Kathryn Loh, general manager at SingExpress Travel DMC, also called for more flexibility in SRV redemption modes. She added: "While we appreciate the SRV initiative and understand the logic of limiting the SRV claim through the five platforms, we don't see much of the sales generated from the selected channel platform."
About 40 per cent of tour sales come from SRV redemption, but most sales are generated through the firm's own marketing efforts, Ms Loh said.
Even before the platforms stepped in, though, NBS lecturer Wong King Yin, who specialises in tourism and marketing, said that merchants "need to understand the purchase journey... to help customers to complete their purchase as seamlessly as possible".
Help could be a simple referral link to the correct booking page, or having mobile devices on hand at offline transaction points, she noted.
Meanwhile, consumers were also plagued at the outset by the need to book time slots before visiting popular attractions. Some, unaware of the crowd-control requirement, faced difficulties when they just showed up.
But all five booking platforms' websites now feature reminders about the time-slot rule, the firms told BT.
Trip.com can even automatically close the bookings for a venue once the take-up hits a pre-set capacity limit, according to a spokesperson.
She noted: "Most of our merchants have access to our system which is designed to provide real-time capacity and inventory management."
The platforms also said they were working with the STB to improve user experiences in response to feedback. Some other changes include reminders about automatic child discounts.