Making my parents a new website for their Bed and Breakfast

12 replies [Last post]
Offline
Joined:
03/05/2013

Hello all! 

I just discovered this forum tonight when I was searching for a new reservation management system for my parents' bed and breakfast. I am in the process of updating their current website to something a bit easier to navigate. So, "hello"! smiley

 

I am thinking of using WordPress to create their website. They are currently using Webervations for their online reservation processing, but my father isn't terribly happy with the functionality of that system. Something about not being able to change rates for all holidays at once. I'm not sure, I'll have to ask him again. He said it works, but it's a bit clumsy and doesn't do everything he would like. I noticed from reading that a lot of you happen to use WordPress to make your sites as well. I see there are some booking plugins that are available for WordPress. Has anyone tried using one of those versus a third party reservation management system. I do not run the bed and breakfast so I'm not entirely sure what is needed. 

(technical mumbo jumbo, feel free to ignore! : I imagine that the booking plugin would have to have access to a MySQL database in order to write new guest bookings to that database. The plugins are probably not very sophisticated when it comes to rate changes, blocked out days, etc., but I'm just getting into it. My idea was to use one of these booking plugins and then add a script to process credit cards using Swipe or some similar payment processor.)

If anyone has any experience looking into these similar plugins or using an alternate system for managing bookings and processing payments, I'd be interested in hearing. It looks like Webervations isn't as lacking compared to the competition as I thought, sadly. I don't see any reservation management systems that have WordPress plugins, for example. Which I find surprising. I have looked at Webervations, ResNexus, SuperInn, RezOvation, and have been reading a lot about Reservation Key thanks to this forum. Reservation Key does seem to be the most useful one for my parents' needs, actually. I am just worried about the reliability and possible downtime that I've read on this forum. That could easily a case of many people here actively posting about it vs. downtime of other reservation systems. Maybe they all go down now and then. 

 

Thanks for any help. Sorry for the long post. I am going to be revamping my parents site as a personal side project, so sorry for my lack of expertise.  

__________________

Jamul Haven Bed and Breakfast. San Diego, CA.
Jamul Haven

 

Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

I do lots of B & B websites with wordpress. In fact many of the "biggy" companies are using it as well with their basic turnkey packages. Do not try and use a plugin for reservations. Go with RESKEY. you won't regret it. The plugins will be nothing but grief. I have tried some and know it is not worth it.

If the current page is now being done in Yahoo it looks like.  You have problems. It is not a very inviting home page You need to check out some of the websites of folks on this forum to get a better idea of how to build a good B & B website.  Right now yours doesn't cut it I am sorrry to say. One page says "Jamul Haven is San Diego's most private and exclusive five-star B&B resort."  Who gave you a 5 Star Rating? If so, you site set up does not reflect well

May I recommend you check out the WORDPRESS THEME  Striking or Coherence available at Theme Forest. Either on of these will do a much better job for you and their customer support is FABULOUS!

Offline
Joined:
03/05/2013

Reservation Key does seem to be highly recommended. It also seems like the developer, John (I think?), is very open to supporting his customers. I'm sure he would be open to speaking with my father and deciding if Reservation Key has all the functionality he needs. 

I'm not sure about the five-star rating. I remember when they first started, they made a lot of changes to adjust for AAA's rating system. I don't think they're listed with AAA any longer though. 

Breakfast Diva's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/26/2009

tjrotz wrote:

Reservation Key does seem to be highly recommended. It also seems like the developer, John (I think?), is very open to supporting his customers. I'm sure he would be open to speaking with my father and deciding if Reservation Key has all the functionality he needs. 

I'm not sure about the five-star rating. I remember when they first started, they made a lot of changes to adjust for AAA's rating system. I don't think they're listed with AAA any longer though. 

There's no way a 4 room b&b can be rated 5 stars from AAA. For the homepage to state that rating is very misleading and I would suggest you find out where the rating is from and either credit the rating or remove it.

Offline
Joined:
03/05/2013

Thanks, I will keep that in mind. Smiling Don't want to be misleading. Maybe he means they have 5 stars on other rating systems. I don't see any mention of AAA on his website. 

He should definitely clarify that or remove it. 

 

Offline
Joined:
08/18/2011

Yes, Webervations is not very good.  Given the price it is somewhat acceptable though. 

The reservation page they provide is indeed terrible. However, you do have the option of sending them code for a "custom header and footer".  This has the potential for you to exactly match or at least get very close to the look of your website.  Unfortunately their code is very bad and you have to have strong HTML & CSS web development ability to do much with their old non standards compliant code. 

After a lot of work our Webervations checkout pages match our website and I also wrote JavaScript that will put larger room photos and other information in a sidebar next to their content.  I am redesigning our site now though and really not looking forward to having to convert it to code that will work with Webervations.

I use WordPress, but I would advise against a booking plugin as well.  If you really want to consider it,, you might check out codecanyon.net.  They have some booking plugins listed, but I don't know if any are any good.  Better to go with a 3rd party reservation system.  Reservation Key and Availability Online are both good (based on what I have heard, have not used them myself) and reasonably priced.

Breakfast Diva's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/26/2009

Another factor in choosing a credit card processor is whether or not you charge a deposit before arrival. Manually inputting a charge for a deposit is more expensive. I now use Reservation Key & Auth.net which charges the card at the moment the reservation is made. If the card is bad, there is no reservation. It's been great! Yes, it costs more, but I don't have to track down guests when there is a problem with their card (happed frequently before). It's worth the extra expense for us. Depends on each property what works best for them.

Offline
Joined:
03/05/2013

I'm pretty sure they charge when the person books the room. They might charge the whole rate for the stay at that point, actually. I've never seen my parents run a credit card here. 

Kay Nein's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/13/2012

Great to see that you've done your homework!  Nice charts.

I have a comment on the credit card processors...  As a bookkeeper, I've had to help many clients choose a new processor.  It's very hard to look at the data you've compiled and determine which would be the best fit for your business.  What I ended up doing was creating a spreadsheet with formulas for each processor.  Next, I entered a set of sample data (ie: a month's worth of transactions) and then I could accurately advise which one would save my client money.  I have found in some cases that a particular processor was better for one client because they had fewer but larger individual transactions whereas a different one was more beneficial for another business because they had many small transactions.  Comparing them on a spreadsheet leveled the playing field and gave you accurate data to use for making a decision.

Offline
Joined:
03/05/2013

This is an excellent idea!

Offline
Joined:
10/07/2008

Welcome Jamul!

I googled your link on the other thread to find the website, and that was my first thought, then I saw this and said Hall-lay-loo-yer! Get that home page decluttered. yes

Don't use a plugin for CC details, you have PCI compliance to deal with. You don't want to process any of it on your own, this is the reason we use a third party. No system is perfect, as all the inns are different! So don't get hung up on that. 

Many of us have a history with webervations, which is why we jumped ship. 

It's a beautiful B&B. I know where she is, I grew up in SD. Smiling

PS You may be the only B&B with a disco. Sure looks like an awesome wedding/and retreat venue!

__________________

Gluten free is never free. - Joey Bloggs

 

Offline
Joined:
03/05/2013

Thanks Joey, 

My parents currently have a policy to not do weddings. It is a beautiful place and could easily handle a wedding (which we have done a few) but the drama associated with a wedding and hassle of it all was not worth it. Too many unruly guests! They are thinking of adjusting their policy to allow for small weddings of 10 or so people. I think on the condition that the person rents all four units of the bed and breakfast. Maybe part of the redesign could include a page for weddings after they iron out their desires to offer this. 

As far as the PCI compliance and plugin, it does seem like it would be a hassle to set the whole site to use SSL, buy the certificate and worry about security all the time. Peace of mind with a third party service will be helpful to my parents so they don't have to worry. Especially since I don't want to be their webmaster. I want to set them up with a CMS (like WordPress) that allows them to edit the pages without needing to code anything. 

Offline
Joined:
03/05/2013

Hi again, 

I made this little table of the seven bed and breakfast reservation services (plus my idea for a custom one using a WP plugin + Stripe) I could find and as much information about each one I was able to gather. If it's of use to other people, that would be pretty neat. If anyone has anything to add to it to fill any gaps or add a service I wasn't able to find / correct any errors, I would appreciate it. 

It seems like Webervations is pretty much unbeatable in price. That is the one my father is currently using, but I find the site that guests go to when making a reservation pretty terrible. Also, it was the one he is using that doesn't fully meet his needs and he finds a bit clumsy. Sirvoy was an interesting choice to look at, but Authorize.net is an extra $20 a month plus setup.

Hopefully a good conversation can come from this. I did a search and there were many previously, but doesn't look like a ton of discussion recently. There was one thread titled something like, "What PMS do you use" and it seemed like it had a decent conversation, but didn't mention a couple of these or discuss the costs of payment gateways (CC processors). 

Hopefully I'm not coming off too heavy for just getting here! 

 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.