This month, we will focus on how to create and optimize your hotel, b&b, or hostel WordPress website. Earlier this month, Cloudbeds released a WordPress hotel booking engine plugin that perfectly integrates with myfrontdesk and myallocator, or can be used as a stand-alone booking engine. It is the industry’s first free hotel booking engine plugin for WordPress, made by hospitality insiders and WordPress developer veterans.
There are a lot of WordPress themes out there and plenty of people to tell you which are the best ones. Here, we will guide you to the best and safest marketplaces, show you what you need to look for, and suggest our favorite themes.
We recommend specific themes later. Let’s first look at the qualities of a good hotel WordPress Theme.
Your website should make an immediate impact on its visitors. First and foremost, your website should work well on mobile devices, so make sure to choose a theme that is responsive. Responsive means the website works on any screen size. You want to make sure your website looks good on all desktop and mobile screen sizes. It is very important that it works on mobile, because if it doesn’t, you will lost customers.
The world has gone flat. Modern design trends have pushed web design from skeuomorphism to flat. Flat design is much more minimalist than skeuomorphism and takes out gradients, shadows, bevels, and reflections. Skeuomorphism’s goal is to portray objects as they would look in the real world, making objects appear 3D. Pull Digital has a great blog post that displays the differences between these two common design types.
We suggest you choose a flat WordPress theme because that is what users have come to expect. Skeuomorphism looks outdated and potential guests may be turned off by it.
We love pictures and so do researching travelers. In this day and age, where social media pics and videos dominate, your website should leave nothing to be desired. Your website should feature big, beautiful pictures of your property and the surrounding area. All of the themes we suggest will display pictures on their homepage and help potential guests imagine themselves there. An image tells a thousand words. Your hotel WordPress theme must leverage the power of photos.
WordPress themes can come with unique post types depending on the type of website the themes are designed for. For example, many WordPress themes will come with unique “Portfolio” post types, because these themes are designed for artists and designers. A unique post type will allow you to publish new content that looks different from static pages and blog content.
For hotels, look for themes that come with Room or Accommodation unique post types. This will allow you to publish content about your rooms in a way that is designed to encourage bookings.
Make sure that the theme allows you to use your own booking engine. If the theme comes with a booking engine, make sure it can be disabled. Booking engines that come with WordPress themes tend to have few features, do not connect to other systems, and work like basic contact forms. You need something more robust.
There are many places to get a theme. Some are free, but most of them come at a pretty reasonable price, usually under $100. Take the necessary precautions when deciding where to buy or download a theme. Many sites hide nasty viruses and other malware. We listed some of the sites we recommend. There are many safe sites out there, so don’t feel limited by this list.
WordPress itself offers a variety of free themes to download. WordPress professionals create these themes, so you know they are safe and will work well. However, the designs will not be groundbreaking and they may not let you differentiate yourself from others on the web. If you click on themes, then search for hotel, you will see 11 different themes that have been tagged for hotels, or you can click here.
Themeforest is a marketplace for developers to sell their themes. They sell WordPress themes as well as themes for different frameworks. It’s fantastic for finding some of the best-looking themes on the market. Themeforest allows you to see how many people are actively using the theme and they let customers rate and review the theme’s developer. There are thousands of themes to choose from and a myriad of ways to search for them. You can start by searching for hotel and then filter by ‘most popular’ or ‘trending’. While having many options is good, it can also send you into information overload.
Naturally, the good looking themes come at a price. They cost somewhere between $30-85 range. I have never seen a theme over $100, so be careful about overspending. Also, if a theme looks too good to be true, i.e. they offer countless amazing features at the low, low price of $1, it’s probably a hoax.
Mojo Marketplace is similar to Themeforest. It is online marketplace for developers to sell themes, plugins, and other services. You can start by searching for hotel themes and view live demos of the ones you find interesting.
The majority of themes available here are for sale, so expect to pay $30-80. Like Themeforest, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If you decide to use the Genesis or Thesis framework, you will only be able to use compatible themes. We mentioned where you could grab them above. But again, here is where you can search for Genesis themes and here is where you can search for Thesis themes.
This theme features big, beautiful pictures on the homepage, a clear call to action, and displays rooms efficiently. It’s also free on WordPress.org.
This theme is on Mojo Marketplace for $49. It features big beautiful photos and has an elegant look and feel.
This theme is found on Themeforest for $59, has a 4.5 star rating, and over 900 purchases. We love that it is so photo-centric and that the booking engine is front and center.
This theme was found on Themeforest and costs $49, has a 5 star rating, and has been sold almost 150 times. We love the full framed photos and the large text that really grabs your attention. The clear booking button at the bottom entices guests to explore all their booking options and keep them on your site.
You can find this theme on Themeforest for $59. Hotel Master focuses on grabbing guests’ attention and holding their attention with many different photo-centric modules. Every module incorporates the hotel’s photos and leave nothing to the imagination.
The design is responsive and in line with the rest of our suggestions listed above.
This beautiful theme can be found on Mojo Marketplace fro $49. This theme offers big, beautiful photos and has some fun plugins of its own, such as the weather widget you can see below.
This Mojo Marketplace theme costs $49. It features a nice slider and a constant call to action in the top right-hand corner to push visitors to book. It is simple and effectively gets the point across.
We found this theme on Themeforest and enjoy its large homepage slider. It also offers nice details like the weather widget in the top left corner. It is soft and elegant and will instantly entice your website’s visitors to book.
This theme comes from Themeforest for $59. This theme comes with built in homepage slider and a portfolio for you to show off your different room types. It also has many different customization options with built-in tools to help you make it fit your brand.
This theme costs $59 and has many of the same features as the ones listed above. Big, beautiful pictures, a clear call to action, and a simple yet elegant design. It is one of Themeforest’s best sellers with more than 4,600 sales.
Frameworks are third-party themes that strip much of the “heavy load” from WordPress, simplifying it. Frameworks make WordPress websites load faster. They also reduce many of the incompatibilities that WordPress themes sometimes have with WordPress plugins. Even though they are more complex and more expensive, we suggest that hoteliers use WordPress frameworks for their websites to improve system performance and guest experience.
Once you choose and install a framework, you need to select a child theme that works on that framework. A child theme only works with the framework it was created for. So, for example, let’s say you install the Genesis framework. In order to install a theme, you must choose one from among the many child themes created for Genesis. Thankfully, frameworks have created a number of child themes suitable for hotels.
For example, Altitude Pro is one of many Genesis themes you could purchase. It also features large scrolling pictures and a distinct call to action.
Business 4 Skin is an example of a Thesis theme that could work for your hotel. Thesis gives you access to a lot of different customization tools, so you would be able to change a lot for it to meet your expectations.
Creating and building a website can be a challenging process, but also very rewarding. Thankfully, there are many theme options out there, so take your time finding one that works for you and your property. Make sure that they meet the requirements we set forth and you will be on your way to creating a world-class website.