How To: Manage Restaurant Reservations Online with Free WordPress Plugins
WordPress has well and truly surpassed its origins as a blogging platform. Although still the option of choice for many bloggers, the range of different types of sites using WP seems to be growing every day. With more and more themes and specialist plugins entering the marketplace, using WordPress for your site has never been a better idea.
Once such type of site which has been well served by the community are those for restaurants. With a great selection of themes designed especially for building this type of website, along with a range of useful plugins for restaurants, now has never been a better time to build, or overhaul your business website in order to take advantage of the latest affordable functionality on offer.
Plugins for Managing Restaurant Reservations
At WP Lift, we’ve already taken a look at a selection of restaurant-centric plugins, as well as some plugins for general food blogs and recipe sites. However, we’ve not yet covered the options available for anyone wishing to accept and manage restaurant reservations using a WordPress site. By using one of the plugins below, you can take your restaurant bookings online, making them more efficient and easy to manage, for your staff and customers.
ReDi Restaurant Reservation
This reservation plugin for WordPress comes in a free and premium version, which is available via a monthly €5 payment. With this restaurant plugin installed, your customers can view the available tables at your establishment, then make a reservation.
Setup of the Redi plugin is very easy and only really requires you to enter the number of tables, amount of persons who can be accommodated per time slot and your opening hours. The free plugin has been translated into a number of languages for international usage.
The monthly subscription version allows you to view your restaurant’s reservations from a smartphone, making it easy to handle and manage reservations at the restaurant itself, by the waiting staff. The premium version also allows you to set a maximum number of persons that can be accommodated for each day of the week, allowing you to set different levels of capacities, depending on the day.
This is quite a no frills plugin, but it does what it sets out to do well, and comes with enough features to make your online restaurant reservation ambitions a reality.
This is another restaurant reservations plugin with free and premium options. It’s been designed as more of a general online reservation taking tool for WordPress. However, it can be used for eating establishments.
Once installed, you can begin displaying reservation forms on your website. easyReservations includes a form builder for ensuring the booking system you make available, matches the requirements of your business. The plugin also includes a very easy to read availability calendar which will help you to stay on top of your reservations. There is even a statistics module included which allows you to view data about your reservations in order to better monitor your business.
The premium modules for this plugin include the abilities to accept payments, synchronise with WooCommerce, display availability on an hourly scale and accept discount coupons. You can compare the features of the free and premium version here.
This is a good all-purpose option for taking bookings and one that can be easily setup to handle restaurant reservations.
Booking System PRO
This is a premium only solution for taking reservations at a range of services, including restaurants. The plugin is available from Code Canyon, so it’s an affordable option that should pay for itself once you take your first online dinner booking.
Of the many features on offer here, the ones that will most appeal to restaurateurs include the ability to book by the hour, view an availability calendar, set a number of items (tables) that can be booked per timeslot and create your own custom booking forms.
The design of the plugin is responsive to ensure its works perfectly on a wide range of devices including smartphones and tablets. This will enable your front of house staff to manage bookings from anywhere in the restaurant, without the need to access a computer.
Other useful features include the ability to auto accept reservations or approve them manually, accept deposit payments from credit cards via PayPal and edit the appearance of the front-end, customer facing calendar using your own CSS templates.
Booking System Pro is a feature rich, affordable and easy to use reservation plugin for WordPress that can be suitably setup for restaurant use.
WP Booking Calendar
WP Booking Calendar is available at a number of price points including a free version. This online booking and availability checking plugin is great for restaurateurs who want to enable online reservations. It uses a self-service approach to let your customers make the bookings themselves, while it still being possible to enter bookings manually on a customer’s behalf. Reservations can be made for a whole host of services but restaurants are well catered for.
As this is a multipurpose booking system it will need to be setup to match your business, but the option pages are easy to navigate. The plugin is able to send email notification to keep you up to date with the current availability status of your establishment.
The front end of the plugin, which includes the calendar and reservation making forms, is fully responsive for use on a range of devices, including mobile, small-screen devices. To suit multi-table restaurants, the plugin can accept a predetermined number of bookings for the same time slot. The full list of features is pretty large, with lots that will be useful to anyone building a restaurant website with WordPress.
Bookings (Zingiri for WordPress)
The Bookings plugin allows you to connect your site to the Zingiri online booking service. An account is needed with the service, but there is a free option available to help you get started.
The Bookings plugin and the Zingiri service allow you to manage the bookings of many different types of establishments, rather than being a purpose built restaurant reservation plugin for WordPress. Of the features that will be of interest to restaurateurs, are the ability to set a reservation limit per resource (i.e. table) and the ability to search for vacancies and existing reservations.
The free version is limited to just one schedule and 25 bookings per month, so might not be suitable for a busy restaurants. For those seeking a more accommodating solution, the Pro and Expert versions of the plugin accepts unlimited schedules and bookings.
The premium versions also allow syncing with mobile devices using the Apple iOS and Android operating systems, allowing your front of house and waiting staff to be kept up to date with bookings as the evening progresses.
By using one of these free or premium plugins you should be able to easily solve the problem of taking and managing online restaurant reservations via a website. While most of the plugins are built for handling general reservations and bookings, they can all be easily setup, using the plugin options, to handle restaurant reservations and their unique requirements.
With many of these plugins being responsive and optimised for use on mobile devices, it makes keeping track of your reservations from anywhere in your establishment a breeze.