This post was most recently updated on February 11th, 2023
Are you going to integrate an online booking system into your WordPress website? This article has got you covered! You’ll find the advantages it has for website owners and step-by-step guides for hotel and appointment booking systems. We will use first-in-the-class solutions that work for multiple niches. Let’s get started!
Online Booking System: Top Benefits
First of all, let’s discuss whether an online booking system is handy. We would include such benefits in the top list:
- Direct bookings: if you have a reservation system on your website, visitors won’t need to leave it to submit a booking.
- No commissions: you pay no per booking commissions as you may do on third-party platforms.
- Full control: an on-site booking system enables you to manage bookings, rates, services, rules, and other settings.
- Round-the-clock access: customers can make an online reservation without calling a manager.
Choosing the Best Booking Plugin for WordPress
WordPress is the most popular website-building platform used by developers all over the world. It’s open-source and secure. There are well-developed themes to choose the most suitable design. The most important thing is that WordPress provides reliable and feature-rich plugins to arrange online bookings on a website.
So, how to find the best booking plugin for WordPress?
First things first, you should look for a plugin dedicated to your niche because a toolkit may vary according to it.
For example, if you create a hotel or vacation rental website, you need a plugin for per-night reservations. In case you run a service-related business, you’ll benefit from the appointment booking plugin working with hourly-based bookings. Meanwhile, an event booking system requires ticket options.
However, there are some features essential for any top-notch WordPress booking plugin, including:
- Any number of properties/services/events;
- Different payment methods;
- Mobile-friendly layouts;
- Availability calendars;
- Notification system;
- Booking management options;
- Synchronization and/or integration with third-party tools.
What are the Best WordPress Booking Plugins?
We’ve divided the guide into two parts. The first part deals with a reservation system on a WordPress vacation rental website, while the second covers a WordPress website for the appointment booking business. What tools do we choose?
MotoPress develops well-known booking solutions for WordPress. We are going to use them for our step-by-step guides.
The WordPress Hotel Booking plugin by MotoPress offers such features as:
- Synchronization with OTAs (Booking.com, Airbnb, and others);
- Seasonal pricing and dynamic rates;
- Online and offline payment gateways;
- Flexible booking rules;
- Different user roles;
- Customers’ accounts;
- Hotel Booking REST API;
- Hotel Booking addons;
- Hotel Booking mobile application.
With the MotoPress WordPress Appointment Booking plugin, you can:
- Add any number of services and employees;
- Create personal timetables;
- Provide discounts;
- Accept online or after-arrival payments;
- Set up reminders and notifications;
- Manage and view appointments in a calendar from the dashboard;
- Allow multiple services booking and appointments for groups.
How to Enable an Online Booking System on a Vacation Rental Website?
The first step is to install and activate the plugin. You have two options:
1. Find a WordPress booking plugin and integrate it into your WordPress theme.
2. Search for the theme that comes bundled with a booking plugin. In this case, you get an already adjusted design.
After the MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin is activated, the ‘Accommodation’ and ‘Bookings’ menus should appear on the dashboard.
Add accommodation types and their details: a title, description, and image.
So, navigate to Accommodation > Accommodation Types to:
- Select accommodation category;
- Add tags;
- Specify available amenities;
- Choose bed types;
- Set capacity (the number of adults/children).
The plugin lets you add extra services and packages (free and paid).
You should go to Accommodation > Seasons to add season information: start & end date and days. For example, the main season, winter, Christmas, etc.
You need the ‘Rates’ subtab to set up dynamic rates. They can depend on the season, extra services, the number of guests, and stay length.
If necessary, you can add coupon codes via Bookings > Coupons.
With the MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin, it’s possible to add taxes and fees to be visible at the checkout and exclude accommodations from being charged.
If you go to the General Settings, you’ll be able to set up:
- Booking confirmation and cancelation;
- Search options;
- Booking disabling;
- iCal synchronization.
The MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin comes with ready email templates for admins and customers. In Settings, you can set up email notifications, including
- Admin emails (when a booking is pending/approved/canceled/approved via payment);
- Customer emails (when a reservation is canceled/new (confirmed by admin)/new (confirmed by user)/approved);
Email settings involve sender info and email style.
Go to Accommodation > Settings > Payment Gateways to enable different payment methods. The plugin supports pay-on-arrival, direct bank transfer, PayPal, 2Checkout, Stripe, Braintree, and Beanstream/Bambora gateways.
If you want to extend the plugin’s functionality, consider a set of Hotel Booking addons. They help you integrate WooCommerce payment gateways, generate PDF invoices, integrate multicurrency options, and more. You can set them up in the Hotel Booking Extensions menu.
Finally, you are at the step of adding booking functionality to your vacation rental website.
You can go with one of the options:
By default, the WordPress Hotel Booking plugin comes with such shortcodes as:
- Availability search forms;
- Availability calendar;
- Availability search results;
- Accommodation types listing;
- Services listing;
- Single accommodation types;
- Checkout & booking forms;
- Accommodation rates list;
- Booking confirmation;
- Booking cancellation.
So, you should copy and paste them into the pages with the corresponding names.
2. Gutenberg Blocks
In the WordPress Block editor, click the Plus icon and type the name of the required block.
For example, an availability calendar and a booking form:
Now, you can easily manage bookings from the admin dashboard. The MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin allows you to:
- View payment history and each booking;
- Add new bookings manually;
- See bookings and payments in a centralized calendar;
- Use a free Hotel Booking mobile application available on Google Play and App Store.
How to Accept Appointment Bookings on a WordPress Website?
Install and activate
Similarly to the vacation rental booking system, you can choose either an appointment booking plugin or find a theme packed with this plugin for free.
Once the plugin is activated, there is an ‘Appointments’ tab on the dashboard.
Customize general settings, including:
- default time step;
- confirmation mode (automatically, by admin manually, or upon payment);
- multibooking option;
- booking cancelation;
- currency options.
Also, you can allow coupons at this step. To add them, you should go to Appointments > Coupons.
Go to Appointments > Settings > Emails to manage branded admin and customer emails.
Payment methods by MotoPress Appointment Booking plugin include PayPal, Stripe, a direct bank transfer, and payments after arrival.
You should navigate to Appointments > Services to add the provided services and details:
- Title and description;
- Service duration;
- Service price;
- Buffer time before and after the booking;
- Time before booking;
- Minimum & maximum capacity;
- A deposit (fixed/percentage);
- Notification notices.
Furthermore, you’re allowed to assign eligible employees.
You can add employees and their profiles with their names, images, bio, expertise, contacts, etc.
Add locations via Appointments > Locations.
Create schedules that involve working hours, weekends, holidays, lunch breaks, etc.
Add appointment booking functionality to your website:
1. The MotoPress Appointment Booking plugin has shortcodes for:
- appointment form;
- employees list;
- locations list;
- services list;
- service categories.
2. The plugin works with Gutenberg, Elementor, and Divi builders. So you can use them to insert the necessary sections. For example, these are the Appointment Booking Elementor widgets:
And an Elementor Appointment Form:
So, this was our guide on how to add an online booking system to a WordPress website. As it was mentioned before, it brings many benefits for both site owners and customers. You can enable this system via dedicated WordPress booking plugins.
We’ve highlighted the first steps to get started with the leading solutions from the WordPress repository. Hopefully, this article will be helpful for you!