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Why have a booking system on your accommodation website?

If you have an accommodation business, a visitor should be able to book online direct from your website if you want to remain competitive. Weve researched and integrated lots of booking systems over the years; this is how we see it. It doesn’t matter what size your business is, the same principles apply. If you have a bed and breakfast or a hotel—the ability to book right there and then is essential. If you have a WordPress website, you’re going to need a reservation plugin.

Many guests find that you’re listed on the big OTAs like Agoda or Airbnb reassuring. However, guests will often look at both OTAs (online travel agencies) and the actual accommodation website before deciding if they will book. That’s why OTAs are a great way of getting traction in your business. They pay big money to get that business. Your accommodation can then be found in search results for your area. 

As a bonus, your business is usually added to the OTA directory including a link to your website. This is a back-linking opportunity that can increase your site’s health and credibility, check out what backlinks are here. It’s an easy way for travellers to book right on your page, and they will likely assume they can get a better deal direct. Ultimately direct bookings without OTA commissions make a difference to your profit.

accommodation booking plugin

Accommodation booking and the things to consider

We research integrating systems of all kinds reasonably often for clients. Booking systems included, and they’re certainly not all created equal. Some can be cumbersome for clients to manage, and some aren’t flexible enough. Others are very flexible and are way too expensive.

Booking systems for WordPress and accommodation businesses vary quite a bit cost and functionality-wise. So what are the things you need to consider when you decide?

We asked our clients what would be useful in a booking or reservation plugin  

  1. It would help if you had an availability calendar. 
  2. Be able to take bookings through a form. 
  3. Smooth communication with guests. 
  4. A system covering multi-rooms, seasons, payments and discounts. 
  5. Integration with OTAs like Agoda, Expedia, Airbnb, HolidayHouses, and Booking.com so that availability can be automatically updated across all sites when guests book.

Benefits of having a booking system on your website 

  1. Ease of checking which rooms are available when, and for what cost 
  2. No manual entries mean no double bookings. 
  3. Guests trust online booking.
  4. More credibility – guests are less inclined to book if they are redirected to an external (not on your site) booking system. It makes them nervous. They may even end up booking elsewhere instead.
  5. Direct relationship with guests. Hospitality is all about relationships and experience. You have the contact information, and you have the connection. 

What features to look for in a booking system

The first step is to define the features you want from a booking or reservation system. The second step is to identify the things you’d rather not have.

What we do want from an online booking plugin in most cases

  • Credit card payments
  • Reservation dates are selectable through the calendar
  • Ability to block out dates
  • Calendar synchronised across OTAs
  • Ability to offer specials or discounts
  • Handling of multiple rooms or venues
  • Sending of emails
  • Easy integration
  • Instant price calculation
  • Flexible pricing
  • Optional extras

Things we really don’t want from a reservation system

  • Monthly fees
  • iFrames which break site layout
  • Lots of unnecessary features
  • High costs
  • Manual updating of OTAs
wordpress booking plugin

Which reservation plugin ticked all our boxes?

The HBook plugin did. It’s very versatile; it can be used on all types of accommodation, including hotels, motels, baches or cribs, B&Bs, campsites, apartments and event glamping tents if that’s your biz. This powerful plugin is well supported and has excellent reviews. More importantly, it makes it easy for your guests to book rooms directly from your WordPress website.

And… it is very cost-effective.

Why we love the HBook reservation plugin 

  • No monthly fees! HBook has a one-off purchase price of $65US+gst at the time of publication.
  • It can handle the booking process from start to finish with a user-friendly dashboard for your visitors and a well-designed admin interface.
  • iCal synchronisation lets you work with OTAs such as Agoda, Expedia, Airbnb, HolidayHouses, Booking.com and your Facebook. Guests can book, and availabilities can be automatically updated on those OTAs. Bookings received from each OTA will also be updated on your site and, therefore, the other OTAs you are linked with.
  • Online payments can be accepted through PayPal and Stripe (no monthly fees, YAY!).
  • You can customise your pricing and provide customers with multi-night discounts, add-ons and vouchers. You can create multiple seasons, each with start and end dates. You can then use the rates feature to set the prices for those seasons and long weekends!
  • Book lets you take charge on arrival, request a deposit beforehand, and save their card payment details on your site or payment engine when collecting payment.

HBook isn’t the only WordPress reservation plugin we’ve looked into or in fact used. However, most other accommodation booking systems had one major drawback for our client. The initial expense and or the monthly fees were just too high. 

For small to medium businesses in the accommodation industry, paying a high price for a booking system is not a viable option.

HBook booking plugin

Accommodation reservation plugin that suits your business 

To stay ahead of your competitors, your accommodation business needs an onsite and online booking system. A customised booking tool can streamline the process for you and your guests without those commissions that hurt the pocket.

If you’ve been thinking of adding a booking system for your accommodation website, get in touch with Woodswork Web. If you’d like to see HBook in action we can arrange that. Get in touch with us.

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