The first question you might ask: seriously? Can WordPress handle a property booking website at the scale of the proprietary cloud-based reservation software? This is the question for you to answer after reading this article. Be patient!
In this walk-through, I’ll show you how to build an apartment rental or a hotel booking WordPress website bit by bit. It’s going to be a long tutorial, so make sure you have your cup of tea.
First things first, I suppose you already know that you need to install a free WordPress software onto your hosting space to prepare a foundation for maintaining functionality and design aspects (those I’m going to cover in this article).
After all, this is set up, you need a WordPress theme (any) and a plugin (a booking engine).
Now, let’s get closer to those exact tools.
There are several decent alternatives to the hotel booking WordPress systems. In the effort to rationalize your workflow, they are much more efficient options compared to the average multipurpose booking plugins. Why? They are micro-niche, that is, are fully focused on the hotel and rental property needs.
For our guide, I’ll be using one of the most popular solutions – WordPress Hotel Booking plugin by MotoPress. It’s a lodging business dedicated premium plugin, which has been hosting numerous hospitality business websites since its launch three years ago as of writing this.
Let’s begin with a brief look at this plugin.
It doesn’t really matter which type of a lodging establishment you operate (bed and breakfast, hotel, apartment, holiday home, condo, etc.), the plugin will take care of any since it allows you to add unlimited rental units and accept unlimited bookings, without any extra commision. It’s perfectly suitable for long and short-term rentals.
The whole plugin infrastructure includes (a bird’s-eye view):
- Full-blown property management system
- Real-time bookings
- Accounting tools
- Flexible pricing (seasons, weekly / monthly rates, etc.)
- Built-in payment gateways
- Taxes and fees management
- Tools to build long-term customer value
- Automatic email notifications
- Client database
- Handling bookings.
- Localized into 14 languages, etc.
This makes managing different parts of a hotel website easy, basically because you run almost everything under one roof (and at a low cost, needless to say). All pricing, availability, minimum booking requirements and other settings that directly affect the increase in revenue are under your control.
Moreover, running a brand WordPress hotel website doesn’t mean ditching OTAs like Airbnb. If you’re an Airbnb host or a Booking user, for example, the MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin allows you to sync bookings automatically by means of iCal (more on this later).
As to the theme, you can use any with this plugin. But if you possess vanilla design skills and aim at the maximum out-of-the-box solution, you might be interested in turnkey rental property WordPress themes for different cases with this plugin included… for free. That’s a money-saving sweet spot, I must say.
To start, install and activate the theme and then follow the next steps.
Import Sample Data
With Alpenhouse, you are provided with an awesome way to get started without a headache: simply run the one-click demo data importer, automatically install all required plugins and – voila! You get a professional hotel design like in the demo that is ready to be customized.
All system pages related to the booking engine will also be installed, so you don’t need to go through them manually.
If you are using any other WordPress theme, keep in mind that such a utility might not be provided. In this scenario, you’ll need to follow the plugin documentation to set up all needed pages (not techy at all but might be a bit time-consuming for novices).
Add Accommodation Types
First of all, you need to add accommodation types – those units you are going to rent out. That’s where the plugin comes in.
You can add any number of rentals and create different categories of accommodation types, meaning it’s easy to have guest houses, villas, apartments and the like listed on one website.
With Alpenhouse, I can simply start editing the already existing sample accommodation types as well as add any from scratch.
The process is very handy since you can add the major description and images, tick all boxes that refer to pets, amenities, etc.
Let’s organize all your options for crafting an accommodation description in a list:
- Text description
- Rental unit categories (double, delux, long-term, etc.)
- In-room amenities (you can add all of them from this screen or via the dedicated menu)
- Accommodation tags (discount, special, etc.)
- Featured image and a catchy photo gallery
- Designate max accommodation occupancy (adults, children)
- Accommodation size
- Bed types available
- Extra attributes (advanced search options guest can use as sorting parameters) – you can add any custom details here like location, sleeps, etc.
- Select bookable services available for this accommodation type (these are extra services you can offer that need to be added in advance).
For each of these types, you can generate any number of physical accommodations. You can list all of them or just specific ones by IDs on any page. Here is an example of a small directory (it’s up to you which info to include / exclude).
It’s worth to mention that with Alpenhouse, you are offered several front page alternatives (with a different number of columns and styles) for the accommodations directory. So it’s easy to get creative and build stylish, unique layouts.
An individual accommodation page can also contain an availability calendar and a reservation form:
If the days are booked, they will be marked appropriately in the calendar:
These are the major settings that don’t require any tech expertise, as you see. Even homeowners can deal with them pretty fast. Now you need to enable guests to search through all rentals. For this, add and customize the search availability form.
Set Up The Property Search Form
You may get it either simple or complex. The default real-time search availability form includes four fields: arrival date, departure date, the number of adults and the number of children. You can easily shorten it to the bare minimum, so there are mere arrival and departure dates, for example.
Here is how you can modify it:
- State the age of children (will be displayed in the form).
- Leave only “Check-in” / “Check-out” fields (perfect for a single accommodation or specific rental types).
- Remove “Children” field completely.
- Use “Guests” title instead of “Adults”.
- Add extra fields for advanced search.
Let’s elaborate a bit on the last approach. Remember those attributes you can assign to accommodation types? The same attributes can function as the search form fields, so you should simply make sure to include them into the shortcode (each of them will have a unique slug).
In Elementor bundled with Alpenhouse, you can add all those slugs in a visual mode:
If needed, prepopulate the fields with max and min number for adults and children. You can also change a color scheme of the calendar to be a better fit for your WordPress theme.
If you turn on the “Recommendation” option, the plugin will recommend the best accommodation (or a set of rooms) based on the number of guests and selected dates.
Unlike other similar plugin, the WordPress booking system by MotoPress enables one guest to book any number of accommodations (within one invoice).
I’m also pretty lucky with Alpnehouse since it allows to use any of four pre-made professional front pages, where each comes with a different search form layout: vertical, horizontal, wide, compact, etc.
Once all content related to accommodations and the search form is added, you can proceed with the front page configuration.
Fine-Tune Your Theme
It’s a no-big-deal task in my case since I can use Elementor with Alpenhouse. So it’s easy to update all content modules – galleries, descriptions, stats, etc. visually.
If you use any other theme, you’ll most likely need to edit shortcodes related to Hotel Booking plugin and modify theme-generated content elements. It may be easy if you use a professional theme with a popular page builder.
By the way, so far MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin is optimized for direct support for Divi and Elementor-powered themes via free add-ons. So if you are a lucky user of any of such themes, you’ll be able to configure it without a hassle.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the pricing system and what it’s capable of.
Set Up Dynamic Prices and Property Rates
Of course, you most likely need an easy way to handle tiered pricing based on different conditions. The Hotel Booking plugin for WordPress brings a decent level of flexibility for any scenario.
Here is how far you can go:
- Add unlimited rates based on what’s included beyond the base property rental price: breakfast inclusion, refundability, extra in-room amenities, etc.
- Diversify prices based on the season: weekends, holidays, high season, etc.
- Make prices dynamic based on the length of stay: dynamic discounts for a longer stay.
- Make prices vary dynamically based on the number of travellers.
Overall, the pricing system of this plugin addresses the most common concerns of homeowners by providing a clever and flexible pricing and discount setup mechanism.
Booking Rules: Block Rooms and Dates
In the “Booking rules” screen, you can designate the basic settings like available check-in and check-out days, minimum and maximum possible days to stay as well as disable booking option for selected properties for a certain time frame.
Include Taxes and Fees Into The Accommodation Price
If your policy requires to include taxes and fees charges, you can do that via the “Taxes and fees” screen – there are different types of them.
For example, you can charge per accommodation or per person and exclude some properties from being charged.
Travelers will see details of all charges on the checkout page, so you don’t need to explain the details all the time.
Win loyalty from frequent travelers by providing them with discount coupons. Moreover, you can generate any number of coupons and utilize them in marketing campaigns. There are lots of tools to make coupons serve your business case:
Accept Bookings Online Through Your WordPress Site
Would you like to make reservations online?
If not, simply disable automatic bookings via the plugin settings. In this case, you’ll just create a beautiful directory for all your properties so that people can send enquiries via the contact form or call your hotel.
However, don’t forget it’s almost 19. People expect you to be digitally enabled. Travelers love to book on the go, via mobile phones, and with minimum interaction.
If you are ready to set the bookings on autopilot (guests really enjoy it!), you need to select the booking confirmation mode first. Your options are:
- Going manually through each booking to confirm it.
- Let guests confirm their reservations by clicking on the confirmation link in the email.
- Confirm bookings automatically upon a payment (full or deposit, which can be either fixed or percentage).
Some of the most recognized payment gateways are built right into the base plugin (no extra charge) – PayPal, 2Checkout, Braintree, Stripe and Beanstream/Bambora.
After you configure basic hook-up settings, guests will see the chosen ones on the checkout page as payment options. All processed payments will be recorded automatically.
Since one booking plugin can’t keep pace with all sorts of specialist tools, it gives you an opportunity to connect your website to external dedicated plugins, such as WooCommerce.
This is the most popular, tried and trusted plugin to utilize region-specific payment gateways, implement marketing extensions and all the things related.
To make this integration smooth, MotoPress developers released a premium joint WooCommerce add-on designed specifically for MotoPress Hotel Booking.
So if you are okay with default gateways, you can get by without WooCommerce. But if there is any specific gateway you need to connect, WooCommerce add-on will allow you to do that without any tech help, via a handy interface.
By the way, another bonus of using this WooCommerce extension is that you can also sell any other stuff via this plugin (equipment, souvenirs, food hampers, etc.)
As a website administrator, you’ll be able to track Payment history and all logged actions of each booking. If you accept deposit payments, for example, you’ll be able to add the remaining balance manually or connect a specialist MotoPress Payment Request add-on to send an automatic payment due reminder so that guests can pay the balance through your website.
It’s also possible to add new bookings via the system manually if a guest is making a booking over the phone, for example.
Moreover, you can check all upcoming bookings via a handy calendar:
Sync WordPress Bookings to External OTAs (optional)
If you don’t want to leg behind in your local competition, you can accept online bookings on multiple online travel agents like Airbnb and sync them with those that are confirmed through your WordPress hotel booking website.
A concierge service to set up this connection is built into the MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin using iCal file format. You may need to contact the platforms that you are interested in to make sure that the iCal feature is supported and available in your accounts.
The synchronization process is automatic – the plugin will download bookings from external platforms minimum once an hour. Here is a video guide for your reference.
If you are a developer building rental property WordPress websites for clients, you have a lot of options to use this popular booking plugin along with themes. Thanks to an affordable MotoPress Membership program, anyone can get access to all premium products to use on an unlimited number of websites.
Free Trial Account
It’s great to see that to get a better feeling and understanding of how this plugin works for your specific case, you can register a free backend account for a test-drive.
If your budget is really tiny, you might be interested in Palmeria free Hotel Booking WordPress theme – it’s a beautiful Gutenberg-ready theme with the limited MotoPress Hotel Booking functionality.
So, let’s get back to the question at the beginning. Can WordPress handle a property booking website at scale of the proprietary reservation software? My answer is definitely yes.
And, what’s more important, many homeowners and hoteliers who have already built their websites with the solutions like WordPress Hotel Booking plugin, successfully operate their businesses with less risk and less cost.
Now it’s your turn. Share your thoughts and questions – we’ll keep an eye on them!