Can you Build a Hotel Website solely based on WordPress software (2)?


I believe you can, and actually I believe this is the only way a small hotel or Bed and Breakfast should do it!

I’ve seen it being done and I’m in the process of doing it myself, albeit in a more or less triple jumpy way.

I’ve announced this as My Main Project for 2010 already in January. Therefor this is number 2 in what will become a mini series.

However I had started a lot earlier with a post Haagsche Suites – At your service. That post didn’t come into existence than after various trial and errors with installing the WordPress Software, various updates and an unfortunate migration of the site to another server. If you like, you can read What is slowing down the Site Transition?.

The major jump forward (or should I say giant or quantum leap forward?) dates from last week and past weekend and is fourfold now:

  1. I use the booking engine of Hoteliers.com for guests to book my suites. Last week with their help I finally managed to take the main hurdle. I wanted availability viewable from every page on the hotel site. Now the widget opens in the main body of the site and is easy readable. However, the downside is that I cannot use any other widget than that, at least no other widget that uses an IFrame, because both wouldn’t work anymore.
    Nevertheless: I believe every hotel should consider using Hoteliers.com They provide very good value for money and are a good counter balance to the other parties on the web who (re)sell your hotel rooms on the commission model. They are awfully costly for the hoteliers. In addition I believe those commission based room (re) sellers are among the largest advertisers on Google who make the fat company fatter and fatter. But I will go deeper into this issue in a separate post
  2. With the release and installation of Thesis Theme version 1.7 of DIY Themes it is much easier to create drop down menus to make navigation of your site simpler for your site visitors. However, I do hope with version 2 they will come up with alternative navigation possibilities, as it is my experience that users do not always understand drop down menues.
  3. In addition Thesis version 1.7 is written for optimal speeding up the load time of your site or blog and there is no other theme alike for fine tuning your site for SEO.
  4. Darren Cronian of Travelrants pointed me again to the Nexgen Gallery plugin for WordPress by Alex Rabe. I had kicked it out earlier, because it didn’t go well with the PHP – MySQL version of my service provider. Now it works fine. I have played around with the size of the thumbnails extensively: As long as it took to get a balance between loading time and visibility of the thumbs, because I believe a homepage should not be packed with images and other stuff. It should be the easily navigable point of entry to my little empire.

Speed Matters
I’m proud the landing page Haagsche Suites takes only 1.43 seconds to load.
I measure the speed with a FireFox addon, Firebug 1.5.3, a nifty little tool every Blogger should have. Not only does it show speed, but it also gives errors. Firebug also tells me I should do away with all those widgets that load faces, little avatars of those who visit my sites. I love to put faces to the visitors of my sites, but “No” Firebus says “You should kick them out”.
Therefore I have taken away already several of such time consuming widgets from here like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog and some more I already forgot. Recently I found a nifty new widget on the BlogCatalog Site.
I have also taken away the Google Friends widget, in one way or another Google doesn’t succeed in being socially acceptable. Buzz Failed in my opinion and Google friends doesn’t do a lot either and takes tremendous amounts of time to load. Face Book on the contrary made a quantum leap forward wit it’s I’Like program, but the widgets I use here are also much to time consuming.

Final observation:
During the last couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting with another nice WordPress Plugin, Link Within which gives your readers suggestions for similar posts combined with little thumbs of those posts. My conclusion is that I will get rid of it again, as it costs too much time to load and isn’t as to the point as the similar posts plugin.

Update:
I thought to provide some good examples of blog based hotel sites for your consideration:

  • Chanters Lodge by @Richard Chanters does a good job with a self hosted blogspot based hotel site. He’s a frontrunner as he started out very early at the now closed Yahoo “platform”.
  • I mentioned the Witt Istanbul earlier here.Now they seem to have moved their blog part somewhere else. Curious to know why, but what a stylish site!
  • I found the Caro Hotel in Romania
  • Umi Hotels in Brighton, UK
  • Hotel Hana Maui

More will follow if and when you or I discover them.

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21 Responses to Can you Build a Hotel Website solely based on WordPress software (2)?

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Leigh Shulman, Guido vanden Elshout, Guido vanden Elshout, Pamela Jones, LucyWhittington and others. LucyWhittington said: RT @HappyHotelier: Can you Build a Hotel Website solely based on WordPress software (2)? http://bit.ly/9WDrrV <- of course. WP fab for sites [...]

  2. Dave Hyndman says:

    Hi Guido:

    I follow the blog and think you have a lot of great advice for small hoteliers, innkeepers, etc.

    I’m going to chime in and agree/disagree with where you’re going with this series (which I’m looking forward to).

    First, I am a big fan of WordPress. I run my company’s website on it (http://www.sitevalet.com) and I have run my personal (somewhat dormant) weblog (http://www.davehyndman.com) on it for years. It is very impressive software.

    However, I think WordPress is overly complex for most non-techie hoteliers/innkeepers (perhaps your main audience is the technically inclined). WordPress can be difficult to install and configure *properly* and it is so powerful, much of its functionality and UI can be overwhelming. I’ve used it for well over 5 years and I still feel like a newbie to it some days.

    Less obvious, it is difficult to maintain a running WordPress installation and keep it safe and secure. There was a meme running a while back about how few people and organizations are properly prepared (skills, processes, etc) to run a business-critical WordPress installation. I learned this myself the hard way. Soon after launching SiteValet, our hosting provider, MediaTemple (one of the better reputed hosts) were hacked. Passwords were compromised and our SiteValet website began serving links to porn sites (not a good post-launch impression). It took me 2-3 days of full-time effort to restore things to the way they were, and I was lucky to have full backups of all of the design assets and the database of pages and posts.

    I did see recently that Automattic, the company behind WordPress, are launching a new service called VaultPress (http://vaultpress.com) to help with this problem. Looks promising but not yet launched.

    These are some of the reasons we created SiteValet. SiteValet is a website building and management platform built specifically for accommodations businesses. I would love to have you take a look and let me know what you think (publicly or via email).

    Keep up the great posts, Guido.

    DAVE

  3. GJE says:

    Hi Dave
    Thank you for your elaborate comment.

    Yes you are right WordPress is actually a bit difficult. If you would have followed all the problems I went through, It is not for the faint hearted. However, there are many WordPress Savvy people out there who are able and willing to help.

    I didn’t know yet about Vault Press. Thank you for the pointer.

    It amazes me that Sitevalet doesn’t show a portfolio of sites in the system.

    I for instance wouldn’t easily sign in and rummage around, even if I have more than average knowledge of one and another.

    Cheers!

  4. Dave Hyndman says:

    Yeah, VaultPress looks great. Once it’s launched, I can’t imagine running a WordPress business site without it (assuming it lives up to the marketing message).

    I appreciate the suggestion of SiteValet showing a portfolio of customers’ websites. I couldn’t when we first launched, as I didn’t have a critical mass. Since then, have just been busy with many other things. But your advice will have me revisit this. Converting visitors to customers is still my #1 priority. Thanks!

    And I suspect that in general I need to show many of SiteValet’s benefits visually (screenshots and videos).

    In the meantime, here are a couple of my customers’ sites, just to give you an idea (and both nice properties from my corner of the world: Prince Edward Island, Canada): http://www.stanhopebeachresort.com and http://www.hillhurst.com

    DAVE

  5. Schutzfolien says:

    It is amazing to see the possibilitys of the wordpress software. In the Past it was “only” a Blog Tool, meanwhile you can nearly build every side with it. At present we are developing a travel & Hotel side complete in wordpress.

  6. Margherita says:

    I think WordPress is defintely one of the best tools to make very effective websites! Easy, serch-engine optimised, nice to see…

  7. Costin says:

    Dear Guido,

    Thank you for mentioning our website. Indeed we used WordPress because we wanted a fast, not too pricey solution but mainly because we wanted a platform easy to update and manage. It’s our first version but I’m sure that with a little more experience and depending of the hotel type, one can create a bettter website.

  8. Dave Hyndman says:

    Hi Guido, I’m back.

    Regarding WordPress security concerns, I just came across this, too: http://securemyblog.com/ It’s another WordPress security offering. This one’s more educational than a specific solution like VaultPress, but might be worth some of your audience checking out (I’m not endorsing it; I don’t have it).

    And like I said before, I’m a huge WordPress fan and I run my company’s site on it. I just really believe people need to know what they’re getting into and make sure that they’re properly prepared from a security, backup and recovery standpoint. Getting WordPress up and running is just the first (and easiest) step.

    Thanks, DAVE

  9. Moscow hotels says:

    Sure WordPress is one of the best software tool to make SEO friendly and effective sites.
    I am big WP fan.

  10. Chad says:

    Yes, it can. I have done it before and it works fine. Not great, but fine. The blogging portion of the site is fantastic, but the SEO is not great, and the speed was actually pretty bad.

    However, the looks were great. So for non-techies, using WordPress to create a travel site works perfectly fine.

  11. GJE says:

    Chad
    With the Thesis Theme you can fine tune SEO as nowhere else. I assure you.

  12. Max White says:

    Well first of all I would make sure to download Thesis Openhook. Openhook is a great free plugin that will help you modify Thesis a lot more easily then with the custom programming.

    There are a lot of really good tutorials for extending DIYThemes’ Thesis Theme to do just about anything you could want. Personally, I think wordpresslandingpage.com does a nice job of providing some skins for Thesis.

  13. martin says:

    Thanks for this article was a nice read.

    Martin King
    http://cairnhotelgroup.com

  14. RUS CRISTIAN says:

    Sure WordPress is one of the best software tool to make SEO friendly sites for the hotelsand effective sites.
    I am fan. I think I’ll use it for my news site which is online next month. thanks guys. grat job

  15. and it just got easier with the arcRes bookings widget plugin for wordpress by AXSES. allows for confirmed bookings and the very popular request system likes by small hotels who dont want to manage inventory accross channels

  16. chris says:

    Hi. I tried the widget and it works for my hotels reservation site. Thanks a lot for this article. It helped me a lot.

  17. Vey Informative Post. thanks for sharing the information .

  18. badrinath says:

    yes i can build hotel booking software i have wp hotel booking software demo with me

    http://www.bookmybox.com

  19. Fred says:

    hi,

    I had a question about the payment methods. How can you add a payment methode like iDeal to your hoteltheme?

  20. WordPress is certainly our platform of choice for building hotel websites due to the ease of updates, usability, SEO capabilities and ability to extend functionality using custom post types. Recently we launched http://www.islander.com.au/ based on the premium version of our Smart Tourism Website. Another design better suited to smaller B&B’s and Inn’s would be http://www.wallabyridge.com.au/ running on the standard Smart Tourism Website theme.

    If you so find yourself integrating Iframes for booking systems then one tip would be to consider pulling that content directly onto your site using a plugin like WP Web Scraper. This works well if your booking system controls the display of your room information and you would prefer to update it in one spot but want the SEO benefits of having the content under your domain as opposed to sitting in an iframe. However we revert back to an Iframe once it moves to the secure checkout process.

    We also use Cloudflare and W3 Total Cache to tune the performance of our sites.

    Thanks for the informative post!

    Adam Wallace
    http://www.untanglemyweb.com/

  21. I am so glad to see more people recommending WordPress to small and medium independent hotels.

    Recently I have launched a dedicated theme shop that develops WordPress themes specifically for hotels. I grew tired of seeing amazing hotels with websites developed in 2003, which have zero usability.

    Your article convinced me that I’m on the right track, thank you :)

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