How to set up a website for a holiday rental / accommodation business
Do you own a cottage in the countryside, a caravan on the coast, several city apartments or a boutique hotel that you want to advertise for a holiday let? The majority of holiday rental owners, make sure that their properties have some form of online presence. One way of doing this is by registering properties on holiday let websites where thousands of hotels, villas, cottages etc are advertised.
Another way of promoting a property online is by having your own website where you will have lots of space to show your property off and where online booking systems / calendars can be incorporated.
There are various content management systems that you can use to create a holiday let website which we will outline below. All of the systems in this blog are open source (free) and are easy to install by using our 1 click install system. Any additional modules that may be required, will be clearly marked as 'paid' or 'free'.
Being the most popular CMS system available, Wordpress offers a wealth of plugins and themes for holiday rental websites. Here are a few below:
WP Simple Booking Calendar - Free
This free plugin allows the website owner to show visitors up to date availability for their property.
Having your availability easily accessible to visitors saves a lot of time as people will instantly know if the dates that they want to stay are available. This should cut down on wasted email enquiries / phone calls.
This plugin is easy to install within a few minutes and can be upgraded to a premium version if you require more features. You can find the booking calendar plugin in the Wordpress plugin directory.
BedBooking - booking calendar & reservation system- Free
BedBooking is another free widget that shows availability of your holiday let to those viewing your website. However, it also allows visitors to make an online booking.
Using Paypal, visitors can book and purchase their holiday via your website.
You will be immediately notified about any bookings made via your site.
To use the plugin, you will need to create a BedBooking account which involves downloading their mobile app.
The widget can be found within the Wordpress plugin directory.
Booking Calendar - Free
Not to be confused with the earlier mentiond 'WP Simple Booking Calendar', this is another free plugin for Wordpress.
With this plugin, availability can be checked and bookings can be made.
You will receive notification of new bookings and will be able to accept or decline them as they come in.
The Booking calendar is designed to be set up quickly by adding some code to your site.
For a free plugin, this actually has alot of features. These can all be found on the plugin's page in the Wordpress plugin directory.
WP Rentals - Booking Accommodation WordPress Theme - $54
This sophisticated theme can be purchased on the Theme Forest website.
The theme not only offers a professional look for your website but also incorporates lots of useful admin features for bookings.
WP Rentals is responsive and will work on all platforms (mobile etc).
This theme would also be ideal if you would like to run your own property website whereby users can upload their own holiday lets as there are capabilities for this within this theme.
This theme supports Paypal payments and would be ideal for those requiring an all in one solution and not just a plugin.
Detailed information, manuals and video tutorials can be found on Theme Forest.
Like Wordpress, Joomla offers a great opportunity to build a holiday rental website as it supports both free and paid plugins and themes for bookings.
Below are four that stand out.
CloudHotelier - Free or from 69 Euros for pro
CloudHotelier is a booking system for Joomla with several price plans including a free version.
The CloudHotelier control panel will allow you to access and manage bookings, availability and rates as well as numerous other features.
CloudHotelier includes payment platform integration, multi language support and offers the option to use free or paid themes that combine with the management panel to complement your site.
Booking Calendar - $29
The booking calendar for Joomla is an extension that allows visitors to see your property's availability as well as make a reservation. The Booking calendar can be purchased via a one off payment so no monthly fees are involved.
This extension supports multiple calendars (if you have more than one property) and is multi-lingual.
There are also multiple customisation features for your calendars such as changing the 'first' day of the week etc.
You can view more details in the Joomla Extensions Directory.
Jomres - Free
Jomres is a free extension that you can find in the Joomla Extensions Directory.
However, you do have the option to upgrade if you require more functionality.
The free core package includes a bookings and reservations system with drag and click functions in the admin dashboard. It also includes reviews, invoicing, google maps support and QR codes.
Jomres is a plugin that can be combined with holiday lettings themes such as the one below.
JSN Sky Theme, can be used with Jomres $48
JSN Sky is a theme that is designed to integrate with Jomres. You can find this theme on Theme Forest.
The layout is responsive so it will work on any device. It includes an advanced search if you have more than one property, featured property and reviews (if integrated with Jomres).
Incorporating Jomres means that you have a back end booking system with a clean design that showcases your properties in a professional manner.
With this theme, you can choose from 6 different colours and multiple module styles / icon styles.
As with the previous two CMS', Drupal is very popular, well supported and offers multiple plugins and themes that are ideal for creating a holiday / vacation rental website.
Rooms for Drupal - Free
This plugin can be found in the Drupal 'Download and Extend' section.
The plugin shows the availability of properties and allows the creation of bookings.
Pricing can be set for different times of year and fees can be set to per person or per night.
Discounts and room add-ons are also supported as well as multiple payment gateways.
Bookit - Free
Bookit is a free booking system that can be found in Drupal's plugin directory.
Using Bookit, availability can be easily assessed / managed by viewing the colour coded calendar. Red areas mean that a booking can't be made on that date. Green shows that the room / accommodation is available to be booked on that day. This will be viewable to yourself and you can enable and disable available dates as you please.
Visitors will be able to search for the dates that they require and will only be shown rooms / be able to book if the accommodation is available on the dates that they search for.
This plugin is fully integrated with Drupal Commerce meaning that you could take payments and bookings via your site.
Hotel Theme - Free
Hotel is a free Drupal Theme that is available via their 'Download & Extend' section.
It has three colours and styles to choose from and supports Google maps and availability search.
You can also take payments and bookings if you incorporate UberCart.
All recommended modules for this theme are listed on its plugin page within the Drupal Extensions Directory'.
You will require the Nucleus base theme to run this theme.
FlawlesHotel Theme -$58
Flawles Hotel is available as a theme for both Drupal and Wordpress via Theme Forest.
The theme is fully responsive, incorporates a full width slider on the home page and features an online booking diary.
Pricing can be controlled for specific dates or seasons and visitors can search for availability by date and room / accommodation type.
Rooms / accommodation can be customised with add ons that visitors can choose when booking their room. The module 'Rooms' runs all of the room management features and is included with the theme.
Disclaimer: none of the plugins / themes mentioned in this post are affiliated with Squirrel Hosting. Please read reviews and full details of any software before purchasing / installing.
The examples above are just some of the solutions that you could use to get your site online but there are many more out there so it's worth browsing theme sites and plugin directories if you can't find what you want above.
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