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BOOKING SOLUTIONS 202x

This is my take on a subset of booking, appointment, PMS or reservation solutions for WordPress.

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 :)

  1. 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 ;)
  2. Has a solid standing in the community.
  3. Has been around longer than 6 months.
  4. Has a real set of developers behind it, that work on new features.
  5. Has a support or community forum, where actual help can be found.
  6. Has documentation for the future administrator of the plugin.
  7. Has documentation for developers, helping to make it work for their clients. Extendability is always a plus.
  8. Has good theme or framework support.
  9. Has a good feature to price ratio.
  10. Has multi-language support (WPML)
  11. 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.

Like Checkfront for example and their WordPress integration.
You pay a monthly fee, depending on your yearly requirements.

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.

The 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.

Lets prepare some initial questions for you!

Before choosing anything you should really pinpoint your own requirements.

  1. What is my current budget? What I am willing to pay for updates or on a regular basis?
  2. When do I plan to start? (development timeframe)
  3. Which features do I need right now?
  4. Which features do I need in the coming 6 months?
  5. Which features are nice to have?
  6. Which features are a must-have?
  7. Will I do the required updating and support for the system myself?
  8. Do I want to be responsible for security and the handling of personal data?
  9. Will I use my own theme, a framework or premium theme?
  10. Do I require or need WooCommerce integrated?
  11. Do I need multi-language support ( WPML )?

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.

#1 Vik Booking (E4J)

One of the most complete / reliable systems on the market in my eyes. Not many websites talk about it, but it has an amazing feature-set at a pretty descent price for the Pro version.

This plugin has no WooCommerce support and relies solely on their own payment integrations. They offer full PCI-DSS compliance for their payment gateways.

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. “

They have a whole suite of plugins that complement each other nicely and will allow you to expand depending on your needs.

For me they are the poster-child of a booking software solution done right.

Vik Booking

Certified booking system and PMS Plugin for Hotels, B&B, Villas and Apartments.

They offer a free and pro version, with the free version already having a good set of features.

One of the biggest benefits of the Pro Version is the possible integration of the channel manager, which allows you to sync your bookings with other external services (booking.com, airbnb …)

And if PMS features are important to you, the Pro version is the right plugin for you.

The price can quickly accumulate, depending on the payment gateways needed, which is not so much different to WooCommerce ;) You also have to calculate in the Channel Manager, if you want to sync with external service providers.

To get you started

A Vik Theme – Plaza – LINK

Appointment Manager – LINK

Documentation – LINK

Frontend Demo – LINK

Admin Demo- LINK

Price Range

FREE (Limited Payment Gateways / No Channel Manager)

or

PRO – 140 EUR (≈ $165) + Channel Manager: 79 EUR (≈ $93)

#2 Pinpoint – Booking System Pro ( Pinpoint World LLC )

Pinpoint Booking System comes with a clean interface, a multipurpose functionality and an amazing range of booking features.

Suitable for businesses such as hotel accommodation, guesthouses rentals, appointments, scheduling conferences, and meetings or rental businesses to simplify the booking process for their customers.

  • Booking calendar – Demo
  • Book days
  • Book hours/minutes
  • WooCommerce support
  • Multi-language support
  • Reservations
  • Booking rules
  • Discounts
  • Coupons & vouchers
  • iCal support for export & import
  • More here

To get you started

Documentation – LINK

Extensions – LINK

WooCommerce Support – LINK

Price Range

Booking: FREE or PRO – $70

#3 MotoPress – Hotel Booking Plugin ( Jetimpex )

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.

To get you started

Demo – LINK

Documentation – LINK

Forum – LINK

Addons – LINK

Price Range

Booking: PRO – $89

#4 WooCommerce Bookings and Appointments ( PluginHive )

Another plugin that has been around for a long time and grown in popularity as well as features.

  • Offer Bookings in Minutes, Hours, Days or Months
  • Allow users to book Multiple Days or Multiple Appointments at a time
  • Offer Multiple Bookings for the same time slot
  • Set a Minimum and Maximum Booking duration – For Eg: Users can book Minimum of 2 days up to 8 days
  • Allow Booking Cancellations—Set a Time Limit until which Cancellations can be accepted before the booking starts
  • Enable Booking Approvals/Confirmations from the Admin
  • Convert your bookings calendar into Accommodation bookings.
  • Allow per night bookings and display the Check-In and Check-Out date
  • Email notifications to users and admin for a New Booking, Confirmations, and Cancellations
  • Email Reminders to users for upcoming bookings
  • Dynamic total Booking Cost calculation based on number of days or time slots selected
  • Capture Additional information from the users by enabling the Booking Notes field
  • Allow Buffer or Padding time between Bookings(Flexible Buffer After/Before a Booking)
  • Change the Calendar Color to suit your Website Design/Theme
  • Google Calendar Sync
  • Staff Management–Add any number of Staff | Manage Staff Availability | Manage Prices | Manage Leaves
  • WPML support
  • More

To get you started

Demo Frontend – LINK

Demo Backend – LINK

Documentation – LINK

Price Range

Booking: PRO – $99

#5 JETbooking for Elementor ( crocoblock )

“JetBooking plugin is a unique addon developed by the Crocoblock team specifically for rent and booking services, such as vehicles, dresses, apartments, etc.” – Introduction

If you love the possibilities and concept of Elementor, JetBooking could be of interest for you. The extension provides a different approach with similar features or better than those above.

Check their feature comparison here.

I have not played with JETbooking yet, but have worked with almost all their other extensions so far!
Love their style and integration with Elementor.

crocoblock offers a whole suite of plugins that enhance Elementor.
Really high quality extensions, with an amazing detail to design and functionality.

Feature highlights

  • Custom booking post-type & setup
  • Custom Booking Forms and fields
  • Single-page booking
  • WooCommerce integration
  • Neat filter system
  • Google Calendar / Integromat / Zapier / iCal synchronization

To get you started

Demo – LINK

Documentation – LINK

REST API – LINK

JETengine – LINK

JETsmartfilters – LINK

Free Kava Theme – LINK

Dynamic Templates – LINK

JETThemeCore – LINK

crocoblock JETPlugins – LINK

Price Range

JETbooking $19 + JETengine $26 + JETsmartfilters $24 or JET Bundle $130

Conclusion

These are just some possible solutions. Hope this gives you a little jump-start.
D’ont just use the first best thing, even if it looks impressive on first glance!


I will adjust and tweak this article, as new things come up.

Enjoy coding ….

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What’s new / What changed ?

Admin Enhancer is the first free plugin released under the cubicFUSION brand. The plugin is still work in progress, but a tool that is already used within some of my client projects. I am using this  plugin to centralise things I love & need, when sending out a finished website or project.

NEW: DASHBOARD GUTENBERG / DASHBOARD TEMPLATES
NEW: ADMIN TOOLBAR
UPDATE: SHORTCODES

Addons included …

This version includes a new addon “GUTENBERG DASHBOARD“, that allows you to build a White-Label Admin Dashboards using the Gutenberg Editor.

It integrates with the SHORTCODES addon and allows to drop in the dashboard widgets via its own Gutenberg Block.

The Block provides settings to overwrite CSS from the admin widgets, allowing you tweak them a bit — for better visual integration. The Dashboard template itself can be tweaked using CSS and Sass via SCSS now 😉

I am also releasing the first integration of the “ADMIN TOOLBAR” addon, which allows you to tweak some of the admin toolbar and footer options (Hide WP Logo, Hide Toolbar on Frontend, Hide Menu Items ..)

Already working on 0.3 … ENJOY!

cubicFUSION – Admin Enhancer
WordPress Repository

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Visual Composer shortcodes are normally not converted within the WordPress REST API rendered output.

This can be accomplished by calling WPBMap::addAllMappedShortcodes();

 

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Simple way to do some Visual Composer Grid cleanup, when you are using Bootstrap within your theme. This removes and cleans up classes.

Visual Composer for WordPress
Bootstrap / Bootstrap Sass

Enjoy coding …

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Really neat solution, that allows you to build a quick viewport based layout, without relying on the still buggy CSS units.

Also works nicely in combination with Visual Composer for WordPress :)

vUnit @ Github

Enjoy coding …

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When using Fullpage.js, overflowing section / slide content will be made scrollable with Slimscroll. If you want to use addons that rely on the natural scroll event, these will fail with Slimscroll. One of the candidates breaking is Scrollreveal.js for example.

I decided to work around that, to allow animations to be triggered when elements become visible or invisible  to the viewport.

ADDITIONAL PLUGINS

You could code the viewport visibility check yourself or use the “visible” jquery plugin.

“This is a jQuery plugin which allows us to quickly check if an element is within the browsers visual viewport, regardless of the scroll position. If a user can see this element, the function will return true.” jquery-visible on Github

EXTENDING SLIMSCROLL WITHIN FULLPAGE.JS

The idea was to extend or hook into slimscroll without touching the fullpage.js codebase. Fullpage.js wraps overflowing content within a fp-scrollable container. Slimscroll itself provides events to track your position within the scrollable area in pixels or when top / bottom have been reached.

TRACK TOP / BOTTOM

TRACK POSITION

MAIN GOAL

  1. Hook into fullpage.js
  2. Track viewport & visible elements (jquery-visible)
  3. Track direction of scroll
  4. Get current position
  5. Assign classes to elements to trigger animations

MY SOLUTION

This is just a crude and simple starting point, but should give you the basic idea. This still needs some throttling, so that its not called on every scroll position.

HTML EXAMPLE

CSS EXAMPLE

Very basic idea to get some transitions working.

Hopefully Fullpage.js will be switching to iScroll natively in the future, as it provides far more options to handle scrollable areas. You can use iScroll now, but you have to disable the scrolling feature within Fullpage.js and call iScroll yourself. Not that difficult to do :)

There is also a WordPress Plugin that wraps Fullpage.js natively with a nice interface (WP_Fullpage) and my upcoming Visual Composer integration, which already uses iScroll :)

Enjoy coding ….

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When mapping shortcodes using vc_map, you can assign icons to your new Visual Composer element.

If you created a container element, that wraps around other  elements, the child element icon will currently be overwritten with the parent icon. A fix is apparently on its way :)

Currently the only way is to skip the icon option completely and use pure CSS for that.

You can enqueue a CSSs file for the admin through a vc_map option “admin_enqueue_css“.

The CSS targets the icon of the displayed element in the editor and the icon when adding new elements to the layout.

Enjoy coding …

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This video should give you a good idea what the addon can actually do.

In my last article I gave you a rough overview of the features & requirements. Here some more details and additions:

  1. Added the fixed header & footer container to the admin interface. You can add special padding, to the top and bottom, through the fullpage settings and make room for them. These are standard content containers, that can hold any Visual Composer content or row setup.
  2. Added automatic menu, which adds links to each section as they are created. Link title matches the section title.
  3. Define section and slide anchors, which are reflected in the browser history.
  4. Sections and Slides can have different backgrounds, providing nice effect options. I added an image background to Section 1 and semi-transparent background colors to the Slides.
  5. Fullpage.js configuration is fully integrated and working. The system sets defaults for a quick start.
  6. Fullpage.js CSS override has been added, but is not complete yet. Added code editor.
  7. Fullpage.js Events have been added and are fully functional. These events are triggered after load, after slide load, after leaving a slide and other events.
  8. iScroll can be seen in Section 2. Added resize handling and configuration options. Still need to do some minor tweaks.
  9. iScroll custom scrollbars are on my list, but not sure I will add these yet.
  10. Prebuild Templates will be added, so that you can quickstart your design. Visual Composer 4.5+ provides some nice new options.
  11. Visual Composer requirement will be 4.5+.
  12. The admin provides a nice color separation for all components and count for slides & sections.

The addon is mostly done. I am finalizing the main admin area this week and will do a final cleanup next week, for the first beta release.

Many people have asked me for a release date. I currently plan to have a fully working Beta in the next 2-3 weeks. Will offer the Addon to a small closed group of customers first, before I think about other release options. I think I will offer between 20-30 slots for the beta run. If you are interested let me know.

Regards
Alexander

Updates

  1. Quickly choose which section / slide to load, when the page is opened.
    cubicFusion_VC_Fullpage_Bchoose
  2. The addon is injecting its own page template, to make sure that the main container is clear of any theme related margins or padding. As soon as the Fullpage container is added to the layout, the template gets selected dynamically.
  3. 21.06.2015 – updating to latest fullPage.js version (2.6.6) and adding new options and changes
  4. 13.08.2015
    – beta has been delayed due to my vacation & an accident I am recovering from. This is still just a side project ;)
    – updating to latest fullPage.js version and adding new options to admin
    – updating to latest Visual Composer version
  5. 03.09.2015
    – moving to Visual Composer 4.7
    – finalizing the admin area
  6. 14.01.2016
    – moving to Visual Composer 4.9x
    – fullpage.js version update
    – iScroll update
    – admin /front-end cleanup … getting close :)
  7. 17.02.2016
    – works pretty flawless by now
    – plugins are updated
    – admin complete, working on some minor cosmetics
    – not sure yet about distribution :) … my current projects come first!
  8. 07.03.2016
    – adding version / requirement checks for all linked libs
    – moved to VisualComposer 4.10
    – fullPage.js version bumped to 2.7.8
    – final cleanup of all areas on the way

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Update: Video Preview

I am still busy finalizing the Fullpage.js Addon for Visual Composer. Hope to have some more images or even a video next week :)

Some requirements for the Visual Composer Addon:

  1. PHP 5.4+, as I am using traits and advanced autoloading.
  2. Timber (TWIG for WordPress), for current and future templating. Currently mostly used for the main administration of the core module handler.
  3. iScroller for overflowing content (will be part of the package)
  4. Otherwise the default Fullpage.js restrictions apply

The Addon will ease Fullpage.js integration immensely, but for a more advanced integration some CSS / JavaScript knowledge will always be needed. Do checkout the main Fullpage.js documentation for more information.

Many people have asked me for a release date. I currently plan to have a fully working Beta in the next 2-3 weeks. Will offer the Addon to a small closed group of customers first, before I think about other release options. I think I will offer between 20-30 slots for the beta run. If you are interested let me know.

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I have been working on a full integration of fullpage.js into Visual Composer for WordPress. This allows to easily build fullpage layouts, with different pages and full slide capabilities. Also added iScroller functionality, to allow overflow content to work nicely on certain pages. All  of this is working with simple drag & drop :) and can be used by any unexperienced user.

I am currently cleaning up the addon, but I am not sure yet if I will offer it as a commercial addon or keep it for my internal projects only :)

Will post a video later this week.

Cheers
Alex

Visual Composer for WordPress
fullpage.js
iScroller

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