This is my take on a subset of booking, appointment, PMS or reservation solutions for WordPress.
Update 11.10. Moving down the rabbit hole again :) Will be diving a bit deeper into some the solutions and their feature-set. Might split this up into multiple posts :) Will see, which of the developers is interested in an open review or not.
PluginHive: Will be sticking to the base information provided by PluginHive and their test setups. This means that I am not currently deep testing their solution.
MotoPress: waiting for an answer :)
PinPoint: waiting for an answer :)
YITH: Will be taking a closer look at Yith as it combines booking & appointments.
WooCommerce Booking: Will setup the plugin and look at this again, but pretty undecided right now. Had my problems with it in the past.
VikWP: I might be looking at it a bit closer in the future, but currently not a right fit to compare, as its target audience is the single property owner. But I still think it belongs into the list ;)
Some rules … before I start!
There are so many booking / appointment solutions out there, that its really hard to decide, which solution is the right one for your specific project and needs.
I will only list those that fit my own internal criteria. Not all of them will always match, but it should be as close as possible :)
Its not just a cheap theme bundle or addon. There are 100s of solutions out there, that claim to be free and just sell / promote their PREMIUM themes with a nice little addon. Might be enough for you, but not for me ;)
Has a solid standing in the community.
Has been around longer than 6 months.
Has a real set of developers behind it, that work on new features.
Has a support or community forum, where actual help can be found.
Has documentation for the future administrator of the plugin.
Has documentation for developers, helping to make it work for their clients. Extendability is always a plus.
Has good theme or framework support.
Has a good feature to price ratio.
Has multi-language support (WPML)
Makes me want to use it myself or promote it to my clients.
Just to be clear, this is highly opinionated, as is every other list claiming to have the best available solutions for you ;) But this is how I would approach it together with my clients!
Property Management System ( PMS )?
A Property Management System ( PMS ) or Hotel Operating System ( HOS ) is an overkill for most projects, but provides booking, reservations, appointment logic, logistics, accounting and many other features.
My main focus is not the PMS market, but its always nice to have the option to extend a setup in the future, if additional requirements come up.
SaaS ( Software as a Service)
This is about full WordPress solutions, but there are also solutions that integrate with WordPress, but are hosted externally.
The problem with a SaaS, is that you are limited to their feature set. If you want to integrate your own features and develop a specific extension for them, it is not always possible.
Some provide API access for extendability, but extending upon that can be pricey. And often its hard to decide, which service will really stick around and not vanish at some point.
But they are a nice quick solution, to get you started.
Bundled Theme / Theme Framework / Your Own Theme
This is where many offers try to lure you in. They offer premium themes that look amazing with demo content, bundled with a basic addon that features common functionality for the hotel booking market.
Some are pretty basic, some of these addons go pretty far.
For a B&B or hotel owner, it is pretty difficult to decide, which is the right one to choose.
You just see pretty pictures, perfect matching text and a workflow of many things, that just seem to work.
But does it really work for your feature-set? How good is the documentation for the booking addon? Do they provide a community forum to help with adjustments?
If none of the above is satisfying, please RUN :)
Don’t waste your money and stay away from frustration!
Most of the booking solutions are based around WooCommerce and there are 1000s of themes that are compatible.
There is no reason to bundle theme and booking addons, unless you really have a feature-set, that perfectly matches and will not grow in the future!
Choose a theme that is well supported, uses the framework of your choice and liking OR find someone to build a unique theme for you.
OTA (Over-The-Air) Channel Manager
A Channel Manager is a module that allows you to connect & synchronize your OTA channels (such as Booking.com, AirBnB, Expedia, Hotels.com, HomeAway, Trip Advisor, etc.).
The goal is to have no overbooking, just one calendar to manage all reservations, rates & availability.
This is a big topic and complicated in many ways. Some solutions offer some kind of 1-way or 2-way sync via iCal.
You can also use external services like Syncbnb or OTA Sync. This alone is a rabbit-hole of its own :) Not going there yet …. But it is an important question, if you plan to offer your bookings externally and do not wish to sync availability / reservations manually.
Lets prepare some initial questions for you!
Before choosing anything you should really pinpoint your own requirements.
What is my current budget? What I am willing to pay for updates or on a regular basis?
When do I plan to start? (development timeframe)
Which features do I need right now?
Which features do I need in the coming 6 months?
Which features are nice to have?
Which features are a must-have?
Will I do the required updating and support for the system myself?
Do I want to be responsible for security and the handling of personal data?
Will I use my own theme, a framework or premium theme?
Do I require or need WooCommerce integrated?
Do I need multi-language support ( WPML )?
Do I need an OTA Channel Manager to sync with Booking.com or any other external channel?
MY CURRENT PICKS
This is a starting list of solutions, that I handpicked following the rules I set myself. This list might grow in the future, depending on additional plugins I discover.
I have a new WPML client, that is starting fresh and already leaned on a theme based solution. He has some project requirements, that already leave him stuck in certain areas.
That is why I decided to take a deeper look at things currently available. I have touched many of these before, but taking a fresh look at them ;)
I am not comparing features, just presenting those that are good candidates to build a great booking setup.
You will need to do a feature matrix for your project and see which areas are covered by each plugin. No way around that :)
#1 Vik Booking (E4J)
Certified booking system and PMS Plugin for Hotels, B&B, Villas and Apartments.
E4J started with Joomla CMS integrations and added WordPress in 2018.
From their website: “The project VikWP – VikWordPress.com was born in 2018, it’s a newly born project, but it has more experience than ever by background. The company E4J has been one of the leading extensions development companies for Joomla since 2009. That’s how we started to get known with our software. “
Not many websites talk about it, but it has an amazing feature-set at a pretty descent price for the Pro version.
Motopress has been a go-to for many projects in the past. When you search for booking solutions, it will always come up.
“The MotoPress WordPress Hotel Booking plugin is an all-in-one property management suite for rental property websites. List unlimited accommodations and services, accept direct online reservations, synchronize all bookings across OTAs and more (no per-booking or per-property commission). This WordPress hotel booking plugin is perfect for running any hospitality business establishment regardless of the size, function or cost: a hotel, vacation rental, apartments agency, hostel and more.” – statement from their website.
Two-way auto-synchronization of iCal with external booking platforms to exchange booking calendar data and avoid overbooking.
Email notifications with booking details, booking confirmation / cancellation notes and other important messages for both admin and guests.
Reservation of an unlimited number of accommodations during one booking session.
Integration with the WooCommerce Payments add-on to get more payment gateways.
Categorization of your accommodations according to any parameters (e.g. location, price range, etc.), which enables an advanced search for them.
Creation of discount coupons with monetary value or percentage discount coupons.
Demo availability to test both the back-end management area and front-end performance.
Broad knowledge base with detailed and instructive video tutorials.
A channel manager to sync with Airbnb / Booking.com etc, is missing. They have a video tutorial up, that showcases synchronisation to Google Calendar via Zapier / Integromat. I am sure you could also use n8n.io, which you can host yourself ;)
#6 YITH Booking and appointment for WooCommerce
I totally forgot about YITH, even though they are the poster child for good WooCommerce solutions.
The plugin implements a booking/appointment system to manage booking of services, rooms, accommodation facilities and more.
It feels more expensive than those above, but it has a huge feature-set and includes bookings and appointments!
YITH shines, when it comes to their documentation.