Have you ever wondered how many hotel, vacation rental, or bed and breakfast WordPress websites are in existence? According to the latest research performed in 2017, WordPress powers a way more (almost 20%) hotel websites than any other “competitor”.
Sounds like a great motivation to start or to continue and improve your business, agree?
To begin building your vacation rental or B&B website with WordPress, you simply need to choose a preferable solution: WordPress plugin or WordPress theme. Opting for a theme, you still choose not just a design, but a booking system the theme is accompanied with. So, no matter what your choice is, the rental functionality goes with a plugin. The booking system itself deserves much more attention and we’ll focus on it in this post.
Let’s elaborate on the why, what and how of this approach.
The why. Benefits of building a vacation rental or B&B WordPress website with a booking plugin.
To be more precise, with the hotel industry dedicated reservation plugin, not just a multipurpose booking calendar.
- Rental business dedicated software: if choosing between a multipurpose booking calendar plugin and a dedicated rental software, the advantage of the latter is evident. A narrow niche software is more business focused and feature-rich. A backend toolkit is maximum dedicated to all nuances of rental business (e.g. on contrary to dedicated software, many multipurpose booking calendars don’t deal with a system of rates and seasons.)
- Forward-thinking approach: the plugin is a piece of functionality, it’s separate from design (if it’s created properly - and this is the only approach we are revising now). It means you can switch the theme any time, get a new website look and still keep your accommodations listing/booking system with all details safe and intact.
- User-friendly and flexible toolkit: no tech skills are required to set up the plugin and further work with the backoffice PMS (property management system.) Moreover, the open source nature of WordPress products gives you more flexibility in tweaking the plugin to your needs (without or minimum tech help).
- Streamlined property management: all bookings and payments are stored in one system (and even synchronized with online travel agents like Airbnb).
- Cost-effective solution: the yearly price of the average WordPress booking plugin (including support and updates) is the smallest one. Proprietary property rental software companies commonly charge exorbitant prices - much higher MONTHLY payments, often increasing the charge depending on a number of accommodations in your listing (google and check it).
Let’s now head over to the ready-made solution - a WordPress reservation plugin that will turn your property rental site into a booking powerhouse and, of course, profit!
The what. WordPress plugin to create and manage your property rental site - MotoPress Hotel Booking
You should know that there are several WordPress reservation plugins that might suit your needs. But to show you how to create a WordPress vacation rental website step by step and revise all backend tools, we need to choose one.
And that lucky one we’ll be using this time is a tried and trusted, widely used rental plugin - WordPress Hotel Booking by MotoPress, which despite a “hotel” in its brand name works perfect for all types of rentals - bed and breakfast, guest houses, hostels, hotels, boutique hotels, resorts, vacation rentals and similar establishments no matter the size of function. Don’t take my word for it, check out a list real websites powered by this plugin.
The plugin is suitable for a number of reasons, which are primarily its powerful functionality and flexibility, free backend trial, positive reviews, ultimate documentation, and adequate pricing. It’s worth mentioning that it is not just a booking app for online reservations, it’s a complete solution for presenting your rentals, services, images and everything connected to making your accommodation awesome online.
For those who don’t like long reads, you may have a look at the detailed video guide on how to build a property rental WordPress site.
Let’s list some major features of the MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin for you to make sure it meets your needs:
- You can add an unlimited number of accommodations with descriptions, amenities, galleries, available services (e.g. car rental) and a booking form.
- Real-time search availability form widget that lists all available accommodations according to user’s search parameters; additionally, you may switch on optional ‘‘Recommended accommodations’’ tool.
- The full-blown system of rates and seasons.
- Bookable services and activities to invent more reasons for your guest to visit your vacation rental.
- Major payment gateways for online instant bookings (full payment, deposit or book without a payment;) with constantly added new gateways.
- Coordinate all your bookings easily via the backoffice PMS: view, edit or delete payments info and guest details; add payments manually, check statuses of all upcoming bookings, etc.
- Flexible bookings rules: apply general booking rules like check-in and check-out days, minimum and maximum days to stay, block all or individual accommodations during a certain period of time, etc.
- Bookings synchronization with external booking platforms like Airbnb (via iCal) - automated or manually control the process of synchronization to avoid overbooking on all directories where your property is listed.
- Discount coupons for loyal guests or promotion campaigns.
- The plugin is translated into 14 languages and is custom translations/edits ready, saving your time and money.
If it feels like what you need, it’s time to move from the theory to practice!
The how. A step-by-step guide to creating your property rental WordPress site.
Once you activated and installed MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin, look for 2 new menus on your dashboard: Accommodation and Bookings.
- Start with adding categories and services. It’s not necessary to begin with them, but adding this info from the get-go, you’ll be able to add your rentals quicker later. Categories are added via a default WordPress functionality: Accommodation > Categories (set any needed ones like locations, etc.)
As for Services, you may add a whole list of free or paid ones, setting their price and periodicity:
- Now you may proceed with accommodation types. You are free to add an unlimited number of them. Go to Accommodation Types > Add new > add a description, a photo gallery, a featured image, amenities, categories, etc.
You can also set capacity, sleeping arrangements and tick all services available for this accommodation. If there are several physical rentals of this type, you just need to “generate” a needed number of accommodations of this accommodation type:
The listing of your rentals will suit your WordPress theme styles on the frontend. For example:
- Add seasons - the periods of time when the pricing for accommodations is different. These may include high and low seasons, weekends, holidays or any other custom periods of time (even one day or two). Go to Accommodation > Seasons to add them.
- Now you may set up prices through Rates menu. Rates feature similar accommodations with different benefits (e.g. refundable/non-refundable).
As you see, the prices of the rate are also tight to individual accommodations and seasons. Travellers will be able to opt for a preferable one on the checkout page (along with the services you set as available for chosen accommodation types):
When major content is added, it’s time to configure the settings.
- Add system pages manually according to documentation or just install them automatically (you’ll be offered to do so after activating the plugin). It’s a shortcode work. You’ll simply need to copy all needed shortcodes from Accommodation > Shortcodes and paste them (with preferable values) to all needed pages.
For example, you need to add a real-time search availability form to the page. To do this, you’ll need to just copy the appropriate shortcode labeled “Search Availability” and paste it to the page where you want it to appear. As it’s widgets ready, you can add it easily via Widgets as well (to the sidebar, for example):
- Let’s move on to the rest of the settings. Here is what flexibility you are offered.
- Measurement system
- Currency (and its position)
- Date format
- Check-in and check-out time
- Bed types
- Lowest accommodation price (best rate featuring if check-in and check-out dates are not set)
- Optional “Recommended accommodations” feature
- Optional “Discount coupon” field
- Terms and conditions
- “Disable booking” option if you don’t want travelers to pay online
- Booking confirmation modes (by customer, by site admin, by payment)
- Booking approval time for a user
- Required customer info fields
- Booking cancellation
- Max adults and children
- Image gallery settings
- Color schemes for a search availability calendar
- Email templates with ready-made macros and settings
Payment gateway settings:
- Full amount or deposit
- Fixed or percent of deposit payment
- Secure Checkout
- Default gateway
- Setting up the gateways: test payments, PayPal, 2Checkout, Stripe, Braintree, Beanstream (and other gateways via WooCommerce soon)
Set any of the 14 translations or add your custom edits and translations (perfectly compatible with WPML).
- To work with the property management system, go to Bookings menu. Here are some important options of this system:
- Custom booking rules: set custom check-in/check-out days and min/max stay-in days for all properties or individual accommodations. You can also block your rentals for a chosen period of time.
- Discount coupons: create custom coupons with any discount for any accommodation and provide your loyal clients with them or just promote publicly
- Synchronize your direct website bookings with OTAs: if you rent out your accommodations on multiple popular platforms like Airbnb or Expedia and plan to accept payments directly through your website, you can sync all your bookings across all platforms and the website, hence, avoid overbooking.
The process is based on exchanging calendars in iCal format. Many popular travel agents support this format, so you’ll need to simply copy/paste the appropriate calendars and import/export them across platforms. But remember to make sure that the platform where your property is listed supports iCal file format.
- Manage bookings: you can view and manage all incoming bookings (with or without a payments), check their statuses, logs, customer details, etc. in “All bookings” menu.
You may also view the payment history only or all bookings in a handy calendar format:
Here is an example of the rentals directory built with this reservation software for WordPress (Villagio theme):
If you’d like to experience the process yourself, you may move on and try the demo of the plugin to check whether it works for you.
That’s it! We hope this how-to was really useful. There is no more time to procrastinate, with such a complete DIY guide you can build a property rental or bed and breakfast WordPress website with minimum efforts.
To sum up
WordPress is undoubtedly a cost-effective and powerful solution even for such a complex business niche as hospitality business. With a highly-functional and user-friendly WordPress booking system like WordPress Reservation plugin, the process is really smooth and quick, even for those who only want to rent out an extra bedroom in their house.
If you got any idea or question, the comments section is all yours!