Why you need an online booking engine

No matter the size of your bed and breakfast, bach, apartment, motel, hotel or camping ground, you need to allow guests to book rooms online if you want to remain competitive.

Research shows that most guests will look at both OTAs (online travel agencies) and the property website before they make their minds up. OTAs are a great way of getting your name out there. Your property shows up on search results for your area, and guests find your presence there trustworthy. By then presenting an easy way for travellers to book right on your page, you increase the chances that they will. No commission: direct bookings have a big impact on your bottom line.

Talk to our Geekfree team about adding an accommodation booking engine to your business’ WordPress website.

Accommodation booking engines – things to consider

We’ve been asked to advise on booking systems for accommodation businesses built on WordPress websites. Although it is relatively simple to display an availability calendar and take bookings through a reservation form, a booking system which can handle the communication with the guests, through to dealing with multi-rooms, seasons, payments, discounts and offers require a little more thought. If you need a reservation plugin for WordPress we can help. Simply ask; we’ve done the legwork for you.

Benefits of an internet reservation engine

  • Guests can easily check which rooms are available when, and for how much, 24/7.
  • No manual entries and no double bookings. The booking engine can be synced with Agoda, Expedia, Airbnb, HolidayHouses, Booking.com and your Facebook page. This means guests can book your rooms and your availabilities can be automatically updated across those OTAs.
  • Guests trust online booking.
  • Guests look for direct booking perks and will head to your website in the hopes they’ll get something a little extra added to their stay.
  • It gives more credibility – guests will be surprised if they can’t book online on your site and they’ll end up booking another property.
  • You have a direct relationship with guests. You own all the data and you own the relationship. With an OTA, this can’t happen.

hotel booking engine wordpressFeatures to look for in a reservation system

When working with our client, the first step was to define the features we did want from a booking system and identify some of the things we wanted to avoid.

What we don’t want from an online booking plugin

  • Monthly fees
  • iFrames which break site layout
  • Too many unneeded features
  • Expensive
  • Manual updating of OTAs

What we absolutely do want from an online booking plugin

  • Ability to accept credit card payments
  • Reservation dates selectable through the calendar
  • Ability to block out dates
  • Calendar synchronised across OTAs
  • Instant price calculation
  • Flexible pricing
  • Handling of optional extras
  • Ability to offer discounts
  • Handling of multiple rooms
  • Sending of emails
  • Easy integration

Which reservation plugin for WordPress ticked our boxes?

HBook did. It is versatile enough to work for many types of accommodation, including hotels, B&Bs, campsites, baches and apartments. This powerful plugin makes it easy for your guests to book rooms from your WordPress website.

Why we liked the HBook plugin

  • HBook has a one-off purchase price; no monthly fees.
  • It is an easily customisable reservation plugin for WordPress that can handle the hotel room booking process from start to finish with a user-friendly dashboard for your visitors and a well-designed admin interface.
  • The flexible iCal synchronization lets you seamlessly work with OTAs such as Agoda, Expedia, Airbnb, HolidayHouses, Booking.com and your Facebook page. Guests can book your rooms and your availabilities can be automatically updated on those OTAs. Bookings received from each of the OTAs will also be updated on your site and therefore the other OTAs you are linked with.
  • You can accept online payments through PayPal and Stripe (no monthly fees).
  • Customising your pricing structure, and providing your customers with multi-night discounts, add-ons and vouchers are easy, really! You can create multiple seasons, each with their own start and end dates. You can then use the rates feature to set the prices for those seasons. No forgetting to alter the prices for long weekends!
  • When it comes to collecting payments, HBook lets you accept payment on arrival, request a deposit beforehand if you wish, and save their card payment details on your site or payment engine.

In our research, HBook was not the only reservation plugin for WordPress to be evaluated, but they nearly all the other accommodation booking systems had one major drawback for our client: too expensive or the monthly fees were simply too high.

For the little guys in the accommodation business, paying a high price for room booking systems is simply too much to ask. In addition, we found they had too many features and just became unwieldy.

An online accommodation booking system to suit

So you can stay a step ahead of your competitors and attract more customers, your accommodation business does need an online hotel booking system.

A customised online booking tool streamlines the process for you and your guests, and you don’t get pinged those hefty commissions.

If you want to see HBook in action before making a decision about your accommodation website, we have online demos that do a very good job of showing what this plugin can do for your accommodation business. Simply get in touch.

Talk to the Geekfree team

Call 0800 686 237. We’re a team of professional, experienced Auckland web developers, copywriters and internet marketers who help New Zealand accommodation providers, like you, achieve big results in an affordable, easy way.