WordPress offers the use of plugins that add functionality and features to your hotel website in a matter of minutes.
Back in the olden days, programmers arrived at the blacksmith shop and began custom programming features into hotel websites that would provide valuable user tools and fancy flashing images with monkeys running across the page. Custom programming was expensive but necessary if a site needed to accept job applications, offer chat, integrate video or gather information in a form.
Today, WordPress web developers use a mix of free and paid plugins to build in functionality. Many free plugins work on a freemium model where limited features are offered at no cost with additional features available as part of a paid upgrade.
Properly vetting a plugin is critical. Some plugins will slow down your site, don’t get updated regularly, or will cause systemic problems with your other plugins. Get help from someone you trust if you are uncertain.
Here is a list of some of our favorites.
All-in-One Plugin Membership: WPMU DEV
A subscription to WPMU DEV includes access to a number of useful plugins which are vetted and safe.
One of the most popular WPMU DEV plugins is image optimizer WP Smush. This is a great tool for optimizing your images for fast loading and optimal clarity. If you upload new photos to your site on a frequent basis WP Smush is heaven sent, saving you time resizing and scaling down your images.
Comment Spam Plugin: Akismet
Considered by many WordPress community members as a must, Akismet (also run by Automattic) offers free anti-spam services but you also have the option to donate money for the plugin’s upkeep.
Web Forms Plugin: Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms is a premium web forms solution with a lot of useful add-ons. Note that in order to use anything but their basic add-ons, you’ll need a Pro or Elite license. Gravity forms offers the most flexibility in getting your forms to look the way you want them.
We especially like that Gravity forms integrates seamlessly with our marketing automation system Invio by delivering the form data straight into the Invio database where it can be handled with automated responses, follow ups and notifications to hotel management. It also sends form data to SalesForce, Constant Contact and HubSpot among others.
Security Plugin: iThemes
The iThemes Security Plugin is considered as one of the best WordPress security plugins, with claims of 30 ways to secure and protect your WordPress website. This can be a very useful plugin if your site hosting isn’t doing the heavy security lifting.
We prefer to also layer in security features that come from WordPress specific hosting services such as WPEngine and Cloudflare.
SEO Plugin: Yoast
SEO is a complex tactic and requires a combination of dozens of factors to make your site successful. You must start somewhere and Yoast is a good place. This plugin is a great tool to guide you through the early on page SEO processes that get your site indexed properly.
Ecommerce Plugin: WooCommerce
Want to quickly and easily add gift card sales or product sales to your site? WooCommerce is the gorilla to get you a new revenue stream flowing. You will probably want a little help getting things set up but once you’re running, managing the online store is easy.
You can start selling robes, towels, bath products and room amenities.
Page Builder Plugins (Various)
This will be an entire article by itself. Page builders are back end tools that make editing copy, images and other content easier. If you’ve ever worked in a proprietary website editing tool, at some point you probably wanted to move something or add something that you just couldn’t. Page builders eliminate that problem.
We like Avada and Divi since both give you powerful core features and are constantly improving. Both let you create full custom page layouts that feels more like working in Powerpoint than building a web page. Soon the Gutenberg WordPress update will impact the need for page builders. Stay tuned on that.
Caching Plugin: WP Rocket
WP Rocket offers a useful caching plugin to improve site load time. Be careful about caching plugins. Many conflict with a site host caching system. There are also many better ways to cache static content so your site loads blazing fast.
Backup Plugin: UpDraftPlus
UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin for site backups
A top-rated backup solution, UpdraftPlus makes it easy to automate backups to cloud storage. Although web backups are usually included with a standard web hosting package, it’s recommended that you spread out additional backup copies elsewhere, in case your server goes down.
Pop up Maker
Pop ups have gotten a really bad reputation lately with Google penalizing mobile sites with pop ups. We’ve stopped calling them pop ups and now say interstitials. They are useful for messages related to GDPR cookie notices and email signup forms. The plugin has limitless potential and integrates with form plugins and list building email service provider tools.
Social Sharing: Social Warfare
Social Warfare offers social sharing to drive traffic
Social Warfare has over 60,000 active users on WordPress, making it a top choice for social share buttons and formatting social sharing information.