Setting up WordPress for a Hotel Website

Setting up a WordPress website has never been easier. But some people still find some parts of it complicted or confusing. Let’s try to clear things up with this step-by-step tutorial.

1. Find a hoster that fits your needs

MotelYour Hotel is most likely not opeating at a global level and maybe your (technical) english skills are not perfect. So you should consider finding a WordPress hoster in your country to get support in your mother tongue. Things to check to find your hoster:

  1. Included Domains
    You usually need just one domain, which should be included. Each domain registration costs, so if you need more (maybe to save them for later), you have to pay more.
  2. Included Email-Addresses
    To get rid of your Gmail-Email-Address and use your nice, new domain name, at least one email adress should be part of the package. If you want a custom email address for each of your employees, you should get more (and again: pay more).
  3. Traffic
    Some hoster offer an included amount of traffic, some offer an unlimited traffic. If you are not planning on hosting large videos on your website (YouTube videos are not hosted on your site, so they are not consuming any traffic for you), your site not use more than 1 gb / month.
  4. Webspace
    A typical Hotel website won’t use up several gigabytes of webspace. Your nice photographs might take max. one gigabyte, but that should be it.
  5. PHP and MySQL
    WordPress is a software written in PHP, which stores its data in a MySQL-database. So your hoster has to support those two and include one database.
  6. The Rest
    Some WordPress hosters  offer a high number of MySQL-databases or subdomains. You are most likely not going to use more than one database or any subdomains.

2. Choose the perfect domain name

You probably already have an idea what the domain name of your new website is going to be. Check if it’s available by using one of many domain checkers, such as GoDaddy. But still, there are a few things you should consider when choosing your domain name. Here are a few do’s and don’ts:

  • Dos:
    • Make it memorable
      In the best case, the name of your Hotel or Accomodation Business ist already easy to remember. So you can go with your brand name.
    • Top Level Domain that fits
      If your Hotel is in Spain, use .es as a Top Level Domain. If your domain is already taken, try one of the newer domains like .travel or a reagional one like .paris or .wales. Wikipedia has a complete list of all top level domains.
    • Like it
      Since you are probably going to use your new domain name in many marketing activities, you are not going to change it in a long time. So you should definitly like it. If you have a bad feeling about it, change it.
  • Don’ts
    • Use Ümläuté
      It’s great that your keyboard has them, but your foreign guests won’t be able to type them. So use a clear writing for your domain name.
    • Generic Keywords
      It’s great that you found a free domain like best-hotel-in-spain.com, but you should not use it as your domain name. Yes, the domain name is still a factor in the Google Ranking, but it has a very small part. Somebody walking by your hotel won’t google “best hotel in spain”. Even if they do, you are going to have a lot of competition on that keyword. Your Hotel name is a brand, not some generic keyword.
    • Long Names
      Don’t make the domain name too long. People will use it, even when just writing you an email.
    • Using Brand Terms
      If you are using a brand term in your domain name, you are probably going to turn it over to the brand owner or get into trouble. Just don’t use them.

3. Setting up WordPress

The setup of WordPress is pretty easy. Your hoster might offer an automatic installation of WordPress.

If you have to install it manually, use the famous 5-Minute Install written by the WordPress-Team. You basically have to download WordPress, setup a database, upload the files, run the installation script. The hardest part might be the database-part. If you are new to this, ask your hoster to help you – or ask Google.

4. Choosing a Hotel WordPress theme

A WordPress theme defines the general layout of your page. The official WordPress Theme Directory offers several thousand free themes you can choose from. A handful of themes in the official directory claim to be made for hotel websites. But be careful and check the features before uploading it to your WordPress site.

Here are a few things to look out for when choosing a WordPRess Hotel theme:

  • Mobile
    Currently more than 50% of the global web traffic is created by mobile devices. Make sure the theme is mobile ready. If there is a demo page, you can use Googles Mobile Friendly Check, to see if the theme is mobile friendly.
  • Customizing
    When choosing a WordPress theme, you probably already have an idea which content you are going to use. Try to imagine if the theme fits your content. Are there enough places for your images? Does the navigation support your content structure? Are you going to use sub-menus or just a single menu?
  • Stock Photos and Videos
    WordPress themes use great, modern photography or even videos on there demo page to get you to buy the theme. Please consider that it could be the images, that make the theme look good and not the theme itself. Some even use very wide images to create a modern effect. Do you have such imagery? If so, great! If not, you are going to have to get those images or videos created, which is usually quite expensive.
  • Booking Calendar & Availability
    Some WordPress Hotel themes include a basic Booking Calendar or an availability function. Since the features are usually very basic, make sure that it is possible to deactivate the calendar and use the Advanced Booking Calendar for WordPress plugin.
  • SEO
    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the art to get a higher rank on the search engines result page. There is a whole industry trying to figure out which ranking factors Google is currently using. WordPress itself is quite SEO-friendly. Its site structure and many SEO plugins cover the SEO-basics. Hospitality sites such look out for structured data, such as schema.org. Try to look for it when choosing a WordPress Hotel theme.
  • Updates
    Since you are probably going to use the theme for a while, make sure it has been updated in the past., especially if you are buying a WordPress Hotel Theme. There are always new things that should be build into a theme. Previous updates are a sign for a developer who is still working on the theme.
  • References
    Demo or preview pages are great, but what does the theme look like in the field? Try to find reference page of actual hotels. Usually the customer reviews are a good place to look for links. If you find older review, check if the person still uses the theme. If not, there is probably something wrong.

5. Customizing your site

When everything is running fine, it is time to customize your new WordPress site. Create pages and posts, upload your logo, install plugins and configure your booking calendar.

Your content should be somehow structured. Start by writing down a structure that looks good to you and implement in your site. Deleting pages or reconfiguring your site structure  might cause problems in the future. Broken links should always be avoided.

After your setup is complete, test everything – your contact form, booking calendar, every link, video or image thumbnail. Make sure everything works.

6. Celebrate

Now it is time to celebrate! Having set up a WordPress Hotel Site is a great success. You have set the foundation for your online presence. From now on it’s a piece of cake!

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