The time has come. You’re diving in and creating a direct booking site, but first, you need to ensure it functions properly with Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com and will work seamlessly with your property management software (PMS).
This article will share our top 5 WordPress Plug-ins for vacation rental direct bookings to help you increase reservations, referrals, and repeat guests.
Technical terms explained
As a vacation property management company or vacation rental property owner, there’s a chance you may not have experience with building websites or the technical jargon that goes along with building your WordPress website. So, before moving on to our top WordPress booking plugins, let’s discuss some of the technical terms involved in creating a booking site.
What does it mean to have a WordPress vacation rental site?
As a vacation rental operator, you have a few option when it comes to creating a site. You can use the pre-built one that comes with your property management system (PMS). However the pre-built sites aren’t customizable and may not fit your overall brand guidelines. So you then have the option of using website builders.
This is where WordPress comes in.
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system for building and publishing websites. The success of WordPress can be directly linked to how accessible, customizable and easy it is to use with tons of options for free WordPress booking plugins and booking widgets.
What’s a plugin for a vacation rental site?
A plugin is a piece of software that can be “plugged in” to the back end of your WordPress site as an add-on to increase functionality. WordPress vacation rental plugins can be found in the WordPress library. These have been made available to help you optimize your booking site’s functionality and improve the guest experience.
How does it work?
With Hostfully’s WordPress plugin, for example, your channel management, payment details, and availability calendar will automatically be synced with your site. What the site visitor will see are prices synced with your site. If the visitor wants to book, the widget automatically look at your central calendar and provide open dates. And finally, if you have Stripe or PayPal enabled to accept payments from listing sites or OTAs, that option will be available for the guest (no need to handle credit card payments).
The ability to sync your property management software features with your direct booking site is critical in helping you scale your property rental business quicker and more efficiently. Syncing this information will enable you to keep track of credit card payments through Stripe and Paypal and keep track of online reservations and the number of guests who make online bookings through your site without double booking.
Other WordPress plugins are also available for adding booking functionality like booking calendars and booking forms to your direct booking site. However, if you are a Hostfully customer or plan to use property management software to manage your business, using the plugin that works seamlessly with your PMS, is ideal.
What is a widget?
A widget is a feature included with your vacation rental WordPress theme. Many themes are also listed as widget ready, meaning that additional widgets can be added. These features are on the front-end of your booking site and typically found in the header, sidebar, or footer.
How does it work?
Standard widgets that you’ll find included in a WordPress vacation rental theme would be an availability calendar, navigation menu, recent posts list and search bar. Essentially, most PMS plugins make it easy for you to capture reservations automatically. Here’s what a typical WordPress plugin looks like on a real vacation rental direct booking (bottom right of the image):
Many WordPress vacation rental plugins come with widgets that can be customized to fit the branding of your vacation rental direct booking site.
5 WordPress plugins for vacation rental property managers
If you’re looking for ways to enhance your site and provide guests with a great user experience, these plugins we’ve chosen will help convert browsers into bookers and make your life easier. We’ve also included free plugins and the pricing for their upgraded plans.
1. Ultimate FAQ
This plugin is the perfect addition to a vacation rental website or a multi-property direct booking site. Adding Ultimate FAQ allows you to proactively answer questions your guests may have in real-time, freeing you from repeatedly answering the same questions and helping your guests access the information they need quickly.
- Great way to add content to your site for increased SEO (search engine optimization)
- Easy to integrate with WordPress vacation rental themes
- Works well on mobile devices
- Offers a search function to help guests easily find the questions they need to be answered
- A stats report is available to show you which questions are asked most.
- FAQ Shortcode
- Insert CSS to style your FAQ layout
Premium Plan Features:
- FAQ search with autocomplete for question titles
- Additional FAQ display styles
- Choose from 15 toggle icon sets for your frequently asked questions
- WP Forms Integration
- Share FAQs on social media
- Select animation options
- Drag and drop precise re-ordering of FAQs and more
- Mobile view of your FAQs optimized for any device
Ultimate FAQ is an exciting add-on to any site and has been acknowledged as one of the best free WordPress Plugins.
Pricing: Free or $47 for the premium version for a single license
This plugin won a 2020 VrTech Awards. It’s one of the best WordPress booking plugins specifically made for collecting and displaying your hard-earned reviews from online travel agency sites, like Airbnb, Vrbo, Google reviews, TripAdvisor and Facebook. This plugin will give you ownership of your reviews, help you build social credit on your direct booking site, and help increase reservations. Revyoos works well alongside other WordPress booking plugins. Here’s what it looks like on a demo vacation rental site:
- Helps build trust and credibility
- Automatic review collection
- Direct review request to ask guests for reviews
- Property review widget & customization
- Review backup
Business Plan Features:
- Massive property upload
- Rich snippet for increasing ranking in Google
- API connection that gives you full functionality to use the plugin without the widget
- “Review upload” allows you to upload reviews from OTA’s that aren’t supported manually
Pricing: 63€ / year for the premium plan and 108€ / year for the business plan
3. Rank Math
Everyone knows that search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role in being seen and getting traffic to your site. Rank Math is designed to simplify SEO for their clients and help them have the tools to optimize their site.
- Easy to follow set-up
- Optimize unlimited keywords
- Use of AI to write SEO rich content
- Smart link suggestions
- Track your keyword rankings in Google
- Helps local businesses stand out in their area to drive local business
- Lightweight code, so it doesn’t slow down your site
- Google Analytics integration
- Image SEO Pro
- Track top 5 winning keywords
- Automate image captions…..and so much more
- This is one of the best free booking WordPress plugins
Pricing: Free, Pro – $59/year, Business – $199/year, Agency – $499/year
Photos are EVERYTHING for an online travel agency or direct booking site. When clients visit your site, it’s essential that the images of your property load quickly. If the load time takes too long, chances are they’ll move on to the next site. Smush fixes that problem by resizing, compressing and increasing your page speed.
- Ability to compress images without losing quality
- Image resizing
- Detect images that are slowing down your site
- Will process PNG, JPEG, and GIF files for optimum results
Pricing: Free, without monthly limits, photos up to 5MB in size
5. All In One WP Security & Firewall
A key factor to having a great site is having a secure site. While WordPress is a very secure platform adding an extra layer of protection for your site and guests is essential. All In One WP Security & Firewall has over 1 million users and is designed to be easy to use without slowing down your site.
- Password strength tool
- User accounts security to help prevent hacking and fraud
- User log in security
- Provide a list of “locked out” users due to too many failed login attempts
- Ability to see a list of users currently logged in to your site
- User registration security
- Schedule site backups and perform backups with one click
- File system security
- Comment spam security……and more
Pricing: Free WordPress plugin
Feeling a little overwhelmed? We’ve got you.
We understand if you’re unsure where to start when creating your company’s vacation rental site. Building the business of your dreams means implementing systems and processes you’ve never dealt with before. Instead of doing everything yourself and risking burnout, we recommend leaning on the experts. We’ve enjoyed working with two great companies that have exceptional insight into direct booking and wanted to share their knowledge and experience with you.
Named one of the top consultants in the rental industry, Mark Simpson will help you cut your dependency on online travel agencies and provide you with a roadmap to successfully booking your own guests.
His site is also loaded with easy-to-understand, free tutorials that will help you on your way to marketing your rental business. He also offers services in content creation to boost your visibility, website design for creating a direct booking engine, and his Boostly Academy that will teach you the marketing skills you need to take your business to the next level.
Hudson Creative Studio
This web and branding creative agency focuses on helping people in the hospitality, and vacation rental industry meet and exceed their direct booking goals. Eli Pritykin, founder and CEO, has taken his years in tech and creative design to build the most incredible direct booking sites for vacation rental property owners and vacation rental property management companies.
With his years of experience, he’ll be able to recommend the best WordPress plugins for booking forms and availability calendars while ensuring that everything syncs with your property management software. He’s also an expert in using our API and Hostfully integrations.
Our take on vacation rental site design agencies
We highly recommend working with a web designer who understands the industry and the functionality that a direct booking site needs. Just like any other type of contractor, it’s good best to hire industry specialists rather than jacks of all trades. Eli and Mark are vacation rental site experts and will help you get those valuable direct bookings.
The final say on WordPress plugins for your direct booking site
Direct booking sites offer vacation rental property managers an exciting opportunity to scale their business. If you choose to use a WordPress vacation rental theme, there are endless plugins and booking widgets to help you create a website that can turn your site into a booking machine.