Your website should do as much work as possible for you via the use of automated software tools. There are numerous software companies that focus on specific industries and design time hacks to help businesses in that industry automate areas such as bookings, sales, and distribution.
In this blog, we are going to focus on WordPress booking plugins, which are basically pieces of software code that can be injected into a website so the website can automatically take online bookings. For example, a travel company offering accommodation would save time if they had an automated online booking system.
The system should give website visitors complete control over their booking. The very best booking plugins will give the user the ability to:
- Check availability
- Get an instant quote
- Make the booking
- Avoid double books
- Take payments
- Select add-ons
- Email system to confirm bookings
You could very easily compare the needs of a booking plugin with an eCommerce store. The online shopper needs to know the item is in stock, they need to pay, as well as expect email confirmation of the purchase. Essentially, the steps customers need to take to make a booking are very similar to an eCommerce transaction.
We are going to take all these points into consideration and review what we believe are the top 5 WordPress Booking Plugins.
One of the best things about the Lodgify booking system is its sheer depth. From the get-go, when you start to use the Lodgify platform to take accommodation bookings, you know you are in good hands. The website builder offered by Lodgify already comes with a full booking system installed, and it literally covers all the above points made in regard to how the very best booking plugins should give your customers complete control.
Off the back of its website builder, Lodgify released its own WordPress reservation plugin.
WordPress site owners running vacation rental or property management websites can use the plugin to automate bookings as well as sync calendars across multiple websites.
Booking systems automatically process reservations and mark dates as ‘booked’ on the calendar. As the calendar records the booking information the Lodgify channel manager WordPress plugin then picks up the calendar’s new data and triggers a synchronization. The data is sent to a series of calendars on other websites listing the same accommodation.
The entire synchronization process is automated and allows the booking system to show the correct dates of availability with 100% accuracy thus helping to avoid double bookings. The next step is to take bookings for those available dates.
On top of the channel manager, the Lodgify WordPress booking system plugin allows websites to automatically accept bookings and take payment for them, which is arguably the most important area of the business.
A variety of accepted payment methods can be used giving both the business owner and customer flexibility.
The Lodgify reservation plugin system:
- Supports multiple currencies
- Support multiple payment methods (VISA/Mastercard, eWallets, etc…)
- Supports manual payment methods (Bank transfers, cheque, cash)
- Automates price changes according to customer’s selections
- Automates tax and VAT according to the region
- Sets fees automatically
- Supports promotional deals and coupons
- Automates price adjustments according to the length of stay
- Allows addons to enhance the customer’s stay
- Has a booking management dashboard
After payment has been taken, there is a built-in email system that will confirm the booking, and send useful information such as the house manual, damage deposit agreement, directions, as well as other useful information to help the customer begin his or her journey with the business’s brand as smoothly as possible.
Lastly, the Lodgify plugin comes with an army of customer support options. Learning how to use the software could not be easier, and perhaps this is the most daunting part of implementing a new system onto a website. As a result, Lodgify has a 24/7 live chat support team, FAQ sections, YouTube videos, and support pages on their website.
It is difficult to find any negatives aside from the fact that you have to pay for the pleasure of all this automation. For a single property, you can pay as little as $25.00 a month, for 5 properties $63.00, 15 properties $97.00 per month, and up to 100 properties for $271.00 per month. There is also a free trial for the first month so business owners can give it a test drive.
In short, this is number one on our list because you really cannot go wrong with this software.
Find out more here: WordPress reservation plugin
Woo Commerce Booking Plugin
The WooCommerce WordPress Booking Plugin is also a very effective piece of automated booking software. One of the reasons this tool is so popular is because it is free for 30 days, plus it comes with an array of extensions that allow the website owner to configure a variety of accepted payment options.
For a vacation rental business, this plugin is certainly worth its weight in gold. The booking extension allows you to set when a property is available and when it is booked. With both the booking and payment system working together, this creates a calendar management system and payment gateway for those looking to book a vacation home.
Vacation rental companies already using WooCommerce should only consider using the WooComm booking extension. There really is no need to look anywhere else in this instance. The extension is also perfect for sites that are not using the WooCommerce eComm plugin.
Newbies will be able to pick up this software for free and it will not take long to learn how to use it. There are numerous support channels out there from ‘how to’ blogs to YouTube videos by people that use and swear by the WooComm reservation plugin. Things are made easier by the fact that the design is simple and comes fully customizable features that can be adjusted via the website’s CSS.
You have options that allow you to add descriptions, titles, price ranges, as well as a calendar. You can also build a review system to help shape the brand’s rep.
The WooCommerce reservation plugin system:
- Support multiple payment methods
- Comes with an in-built calendar
- Has a booking management dashboard
- Supports limitation the number of people who book
One of the drawbacks of this system is that it relies on other plugins to a lot of the other work on its behalf. This is fine if you are already running a WooCommerce website because the plugin interacts perfectly in the environment it was designed to make use of. However, for business owners not using WooCommerce, to get all the features you need to automate the system would mean also installing other plugins.
Another downside is the fact that it does not have a channel manager, which is not ideal if you are listing the same properties for rent on other websites for the same dates. However, this can be easily fixed using the Lodgify channel manager plugin. Secondly, the WooCommerce Bookings extension starting price begins at $249.
It is a one-off fee, but if you also want support and updates, you will need to pay a small monthly fee on top of this. However, the 30-day free trial gives business owners the chance to test the plugin in which the entire fee will be returned should the company decide not to use it.
Find out more here: WooCommerce booking extension
Hotel Booking Plugin
Another great WordPress plugin for your vacation rental website is the Hotel Booking plugin from Motopress. This plugin will provide your website with the functionality to automatically accept online reservations, handle online payments, and prevent double bookings by synchronizing with other online travel agencies that are listing your property.
Each vacation rental can be customized to your liking to include an image, a description, capacity, facilities, and any other information of your choosing. You can also set minimum and maximum lengths of stays or offer lower rates for children. You can even offer numerous rates depending on whether the guest would like additional services or the use of other facilities.
Taking this further is the plugin’s ability to allow you to offer reduced rates for longer stays. Also, if you have different rates for different seasons, you can have the plugin to automatically know when a new season has begun.
In terms of managing your bookings from one place, the Hotel Booking plugin makes this easy. The plugins booking calendar will allow you to view all of your properties and their bookings clearly and in one place. For those with numerous properties or rooms, this information can even be further broken down into booked, pending, or available.
Payment options are a little limited although they do claim that more are on their way. At the moment, the Hotel Booking plugin can accept payments through built-in PayPal, 2Checkout, Braintree, Stripe, and Beanstream payment gateways. With full integration with the WooCommerce Payments add-on, you can instantly get access to a number of additional payment gateways anyway.
The Hotel Booking Reservation Plugin System:
- Automatically synchronizes with external booking platforms/calendars
- Email notifications of all booking confirmations/cancellations
- Fully customizable accommodation details
- Multi-language support (14 Languages available)
- Highly variable booking options possible
If you wanted to create a one-off promotion, Hotel Booking makes this possible too. With a coupon creation feature, you could send off coupon codes to previous guests for a percentage off their next stay.
Another positive for the Hotel Booking plugin is the price as it costs an initial $69 for a single website. There is an annual fee of $49 to cover updates and support but even if not paid, the product will still function, just you will not have an updated product or be able to call on support. A slight downside is that there is no free trial here.
Find out more here: Hotel booking plugin