Wineport Lodge is a luxury restaurant-with-rooms on the banks of Lough Ree, near Athlone.
Owners Ray Byrne and Jane English founded the business as a restaurant in 1993 and have since enhanced their offering with leisure activities, spa treatments, and 29 rooms and suites to serve a varied clientele.
Adding new services has placed extra importance on the business’ capacity to accept electronic payments. Visitors now expect to be able to settle up from several places within the destination, including the lounge, garden, formal restaurant and reception. Until recently, antiquated card readers and payment systems were preventing the lodge from meeting this requirement with its usual flair.
That all changed when Wineport Lodge switched to BOI Payment Acceptance. We spoke to owner Ray Byrne to learn how BOIPA turned payment acceptance from an expensive encumbrance into a cost effective customer service benefit.
Wineport Lodge has been taking card payments for years. Unfortunately, the facility wasn’t always as reliable as it is today.
“With our previous provider, connectivity was a problem,” says business owner Ray Byrne.
“Sometimes the machines would freeze or crash, and other times we couldn’t get a charge through because of the connection. This was causing embarrassment because the customer would just be standing there in this awkward situation, and they might have it in their mind that their payment has been declined,” he says.
These technical difficulties were becoming a bigger issue as public uptake of electronic payments grew.
“We’ve found in recent years that people want to pay with their smartphone or their smartwatch,” says Byrne.
“There’s also been a change from formal to casual dining, so people are now eating in the garden or the lounge area, as well as the restaurant for a formal lunch or dinner. This meant we required more versatility to fit the business.”
“It all comes down to service and communication”
The main drivers for switching to BOI payment acceptance were the needs for:
“What we required was more versatility, from a provider with a range of technology that would fit the business. That’s where we found we clicked with BOIPA’s cutting-edge tech, as opposed to their competitor’s older kit. We also wanted the sense we were dealing with people locally. It all comes down to service and communication.” – Ray Byrne, Owner, Wineport Lodge
For a busy hospitality business like Wineport Lodge, payments are only likely to be top of the agenda when they aren’t working properly.
“We always used to notice very quickly when there was a problem, and what I have noticed since switching to BOIPA is a lack of problems in dealing with payments.” says Byrne.
“With small amounts, customers can tap-and-go, and the machines are very quick with big amounts too.”
Quicker, more reliable payments have bolstered Wineport Lodge’s customer service and decreased productivity downtime, but Byrne says the key improvement BOIPA has brought has been cost-effectiveness.
“The rates, commissions and charges are lower, so switching has saved us thousands of euros,” he says.
“The biggest benefit of switching to BOIPA has been cost-effectiveness. It’s just better value to do business with them, and that has made us very happy and comfortable. There’s also been no service downtime, and that has been a big help.” – Ray Byrne
The Wineport Lodge team have been impressed with BOIPA’s customer service and their turnaround time on resolving queries.
“You’re building a relationship there because there’s consistency in the people you’re dealing with,” says Byrne.
“For example, when we look to speak to the same person as last time, there’s no issue getting through to them. Nothing is a problem, and you don’t have to explain about the business, because they know it.”
“We work at night time, so we might send an email late at night with a query, and before I wake in the morning, before the business day starts, I’ll have a response.”
BOIPA agents have helped Wineport Lodge with matters including foreign currency transactions, increasing the number of staff using the system, and crucially, training new staff.
“In our industry there’s an element of staff turnover in key areas like reception and the bar. Thankfully, we have found training new starters to use the system is very easy,” says Byrne.
“The machines are intuitive; if you can use a smartphone, you can use a BOIPA machine.”
“We bank with BOI, so I already had a good relationship with them and I was happy that BOIPA wouldn’t let me down. I knew once we switched, if BOIPA provided the same service as BOI do in day-to-day banking, we wouldn’t have any problems.” – Ray Byrne
Before switching to BOI Payment Acceptance, Wineport Lodge had an inefficient electronic payment system that damaged customer experience. Today, they can count on “cutting-edge” hardware that has had “zero downtime” since installation. Owner Ray Byrne has been impressed with BOIPA’s customer service, and the cost savings relative to their previous provider have had a major impact on the business.
“In the first 3 months of using BOIPA, our business would have been more than €1,000 better off thanks to the difference in pricing,” says Byrne.
“So, over a year you could be looking at a €4-5,000 difference, and that is increasing as we see more and more people paying electronically.”
“It’s the people that make the difference. The pricing is great, but I wouldn’t have switched on account of price if I didn’t feel I’d get the service I get with BOIPA, which is very important to our staff and guests. What I’d say to my peers considering the switch, is you’ll get a first-class service.” – Ray Byrne