BOOKING SOLUTIONS 202x
This is my take on a subset of booking, appointment, PMS or reservation solutions for WordPress.
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.
Those currently on board:
- Crocoblocks / JETPlugins: First in line will be crocoblock with JETbooking / JETappointment. Thanks goes out to crocoblock for helping out and making this review possible :) More about this soon …
- 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.
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.
The plugins target audience is more single properties or appartment complexes.
To get you started
A Vik Theme – Plaza – LINK
Appointment Manager – LINK
Documentation – LINK
Frontend Demo – LINK
Admin Demo- LINK
FREE (Limited Payment Gateways / No Channel Manager)
PRO – 140 EUR (≈ $165) + Channel Manager: 79 EUR (≈ $93)
What is missing?
A merged use of the booking plugin, appointment plugin, item rent plugin is not possible. There is no shared shopping basket.
#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
- Booking rules
- Coupons & vouchers
- iCal support for export & import
- More here
#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.
#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
#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.
- 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
JETbooking $19 + JETengine $26 + JETsmartfilters $24 or JET Bundle $130
What is missing?
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.
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.