In today’s competitive holiday rental market, having a website that effectively fulfills all its roles is crucial for driving direct bookings. What does this entail? A website that’s not only visually appealing but also strategically structured to align with your marketing objectives and user needs. It should have pages optimised for converting visitors into bookings, contributing significantly to establishing your brand, driving direct bookings, and, ultimately, boosting revenue and profits.
While you could opt for a custom-built website, for most holiday rental businesses, this is an excessive step. A more efficient, economic, and equally effective alternative is using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. With WordPress, you can easily implement a theme that provides access to a surplus of templates, features, and tools designed to enhance your online presence and marketing efforts significantly.
The pressing question, then, is, “Which WordPress theme is the best fit for my holiday rental business?” Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you. Our research has been thorough, focusing on features, user documentation, and customer reviews. As a result, we’re excited to present to you a curated selection of WordPress themes. These themes are not only user-friendly and highly customisable but also key in helping you craft a high-quality website for your holiday rental business. With our guide, you’re well on your way to making an informed decision that aligns perfectly with your unique needs.
WordPress Theme vs. Website Template
Before delving into the main topics of this article, it’s important to address a common confusion: the terms ‘theme’ and ‘template’ are often mistakenly used interchangeably, particularly in the context of WordPress. This mix-up is understandable. For those less familiar with web development jargon, the idea of buying a ‘website template’ seems straightforward: you purchase it, upload it to your website, and voilà – your site is set up. However, in the WordPress ecosystem, what we actually use are ‘themes’. Themes are more than mere layouts; they are comprehensive packages that provide a suite of customised dashboard tools, designs, widgets, and more. When you install a theme, it usually comes with a selection of pre-built, professionally designed pages, which you could call templates. These serve as a starting point, allowing you to easily insert your own content and media to create a personalised website.
Why use WordPress for your holiday rental business?
If you’re leaning towards using a theme with ready-to-use templates, WordPress is an exceptional option. Dominating the CMS market, with 45.8% of all websites on the internet powered by it, WordPress’s widespread popularity is unrivalled. This massive user base ensures that a majority of tech companies and web-based platforms prioritise WordPress compatibility. This is a significant advantage over lesser-known CMS platforms, where integrating third-party software can often be challenging due to limited support. Moreover, the popularity of WordPress has fuelled a competitive landscape among tech developers, all vying to provide the most efficient and user-friendly plugins and themes, thereby continually enhancing the overall user experience.
This popular content CMS offers a range of benefits that are particularly advantageous for holiday rental websites. Here are some key advantages:
- User-Friendly Interface: WordPress alone offers a fairly user-friendly platform for creating basic websites. However, when paired with website builder plugins like Elementor, it transforms into an exceptionally intuitive and accessible dashboard. This enhanced usability empowers holiday rental owners of all technical skill levels to effortlessly manage and update their website, from detailing property features to handling booking information. Additionally, the abundance of tutorial videos on using Elementor with WordPress makes it easy for even those with no technical background to quickly become proficient.
- Wide Range of Customisable Themes – This is just what many are searching for: a comprehensive, downloadable theme packed with features. It offers complete page designs, a rich array of functionalities like interactive widgets and forms, and pre-designed themes complete with colours, icons, and images. With over 20,000 themes available, including hundreds tailored specifically for accommodation businesses like holiday rentals, we’ve selected the top choices to showcase below.
- Booking Management Tools– A key element for holiday rental websites is a robust booking and payment system. While many plugins offer this functionality, themes designed for holiday rentals often include integrated systems for reservations and payments. These features enable users to select a rental, make reservations or payments, and have their actions tracked and stored. Features like live calendars showing availability and dynamic pricing are vital for both business efficiency and user convenience. Ensuring a seamless reservation and booking experience is crucial for enhancing user experience and securing essential bookings.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)-Friendly – WordPress stands out from some other CMS platforms by offering complete control over essential SEO tasks. It allows you to manage your site’s hierarchy, optimise page loading speeds, and, with the right themes and plugins, fine-tune your site for search engines. This optimisation makes it easier for potential guests to find your properties. Surprisingly, many CMS systems don’t provide the flexibility to structure your site as desired or customise URLs to your preference. WordPress’s flexibility in these areas is a significant advantage for effective SEO.
- Response design – As of January 2024, mobile phones account for 59.01% of all website traffic, with the number soaring to 74% in Africa. This underscores the crucial need for responsive design in websites. Responsive design ensures that a website adapts to the user’s screen size, offering a seamless experience not just on desktops but also on mobile devices. It’s vital for ease of enquiry and booking. Opting for WordPress themes that guarantee responsive design elements is essential. Avoid any theme that doesn’t explicitly offer responsiveness. Plugins like Elementor can further enhance this adaptability, ensuring your website is user-friendly on any device.
- Cost-Effective – We all strive for the best value for money, and this is true for your holiday rental’s website. While WordPress itself is free, themes typically come with a modest fee. Free themes are available, and they’re decent, but they often lack the advanced features and customer support of paid ones. A report suggests the average cost of a theme is about $57.54, roughly £45.38. Considering the comprehensive elements and time savings provided by a purchased theme, it really does represent remarkable value for money.
- Integration Capabilities: We’ve already mentioned this, but it’s worth reiterating: With WordPress sites being so prevalent, most service providers offer some form of integration with your website. It would be impractical for them not to. Whether it’s for financial transactions, bookings, management, or analytics, you’re likely to find a compatible integration. More details about integrating booking and property management software with your WordPress site are provided below.
What should you look for in a Holiday Rental WordPress theme + the theme provider?
We’ve covered the expected features and benefits of using a WordPress theme, such as responsive design and SEO optimization, which are standard. If a theme lacks these, plugins can compensate. This section delves deeper, focusing on specific essentials for holiday rental businesses. We’ll discuss the theme providers and key factors to consider, ensuring you select the most suitable theme for your website. This includes going beyond the basics to address unique requirements of holiday rental operations.
- Check reviews – Including 1-star reviews
Every theme provider will naturally highlight their theme’s strengths. However, some may not meet the specific needs of a holiday rental website. A key strategy is to thoroughly assess reviews, focusing not only on high ratings but also on lower ones. It’s not just about avoiding themes with 1-star reviews, but rather identifying any recurring issues mentioned in these reviews. If you start to see everyone saying ‘customer support is not existent’, then is likely a strong indication that customer support maybe an issue. Also, consider the timing of the reviews. Older negative feedback followed by recent positive comments may indicate improvements. Be cautious of a multitude of glowing reviews without substantial user feedback, as the web can have inauthentic reviews – reports suggest that a significant percentage of online reviews might not be genuine.
Every theme provider will naturally promote their theme as exceptional. But it’s important to be discerning, especially for something as specific as a holiday rental website. A useful tip is to scrutinize the reviews thoroughly, not just the high ratings or average scores. Pay attention to the low-star reviews for common issues, particularly regarding customer support. Also, consider the timeframe of these reviews. Recent positive feedback, especially after a history of negative reviews, could indicate improvement. Be wary of numerous 5-star reviews without detailed user feedback, as online reviews can sometimes be misleading. Reports suggest that 30-40% of online reviews could be inauthentic.
In developing WordPress websites over the years, we’ve seen that while each theme has its own design features and dashboard tools, they usually adhere to a familiar structure. With a bit of exploration, you’ll grasp their functionality and how to perform necessary tasks. However, specific customizations can sometimes be unclear. This is where comprehensive documentation becomes vital. A reputable theme provider should offer a resource hub for guidance on installation, usage, and customization, covering everything from initial setup to tweaking unique widgets. Absent this, development can become frustrating and time-consuming. Remember, while customer support is available for queries, response times can vary, sometimes taking days for a simple answer.
For those without a technical background, gauging the adequacy of documentation for WordPress themes can be challenging. As a point of reference, some top-tier themes we’ve listed have upwards of a hundred documents to assist you. In contrast, other themes we’ve encountered may offer only about ten. Referring back to the importance of checking reviews, you can gauge the quality of a theme’s documentation by seeing if users have mentioned issues with poor or insufficient guidance.
- Customer Support
Even with good documentation, there maybe the odd task you need to carry out, but it isn’t obvious through the dashboard, and the documentation doesn’t cover it. This is where a theme provider needs to provide quality customer support. What would you want from a WordPress theme’s customer support? We would judge the quality of the support on two things:
- Response Time: While instant replies aren’t expected, a reasonable timeframe would be within 24 hours on weekdays. Delays in responses can be frustrating and hinder your progress, especially when a task depends on the support’s feedback.
- Technical Knowledge: When you’ve waited perhaps a day for a response, it’s vital that the answer addresses your query effectively. Sometimes, initial responses come from less technically versed staff, requiring further escalation to more knowledgeable team members. This can add unnecessary delays to your website development.
As always, it’s wise to consult reviews. If the majority are commending the customer support, rather than criticising it, this is a strong indicator of the quality of the WordPress theme’s customer service. Positive feedback in reviews can be a reliable gauge of effective support.
From a technical standpoint, all themes are entirely customisable, although not to the extent that you can customise every aspect solely through the dashboard and the page builder. We’ve come across themes that boast complete customisability, but they necessitate alterations to the source code and proficiency in PHP, a coding language. This isn’t what you envisioned when you acquired a WordPress theme. You require ample choices to tailor your website’s appearance, layout, and operation. Otherwise, establishing your brand or aligning the website with your business needs becomes a challenge.
In fairness to theme providers, we can’t reasonably anticipate them to offer an option for every conceivable unique requirement of a rental business, as some would entail source code modifications. However, generally speaking, all the elements visible on a page should be customisable to some degree, whether in terms of aesthetics or functionality.
How can you determine whether a theme provides sufficient customisation options? Refer to the reviews.
- Key features for A Holiday Rental website
In addition to essentials like responsive design and SEO, certain features are indispensable for the smooth operation of a holiday rental business. Some of these we anticipate to be included with the theme, while others may require you to seek out a suitable plugin. These include:
- Booking System: The relevance of this feature hinges on whether you use a third-party booking system like Hostfully, intending to integrate some of their widgets onto your website. However, if you prefer WordPress to handle booking reservations, ensure that your chosen theme offers this capability. While there are plugins available for handling bookings, they add an extra layer of complexity. Also, confirm with the theme provider that it permits seamless integration with third-party tools for direct communication from the booking system.
- Payment Gateway: Some businesses opt to offer only a reservation system on their holiday rental website without payment options. If that’s your preference, a payment gateway may not be necessary. However, if you’re open to users booking through your system, you’ll likely need to use a payment gateway like PayPal, Stripe, or WooCommerce Payments. Verify that the theme facilitates effortless integration with these payment gateways.
- Compatibility with Your Website Builder Plugin: Earlier, we mentioned the user-friendliness of WordPress, particularly when paired with website builders like Elementor or WPBakery. For many, using one of these builders is imperative. Therefore, when selecting a theme, ensure its compatibility with the website page builder of your choice to avoid potential compatibility issues.
Should any uncertainty arise regarding whether these critical features are part of the theme’s offerings, don’t hesitate to reach out to the theme provider via email for clarification.
Top Holiday Rental WordPress Themes In 2024
We haven’t merely stumbled upon a random selection of WordPress themes tailored for holiday rentals and presented them to you. Instead, we have employed the very guidelines we’ve advocated earlier. We’ve meticulously evaluated aspects such as booking systems, reviews, third-party integration capabilities, compatibility with website builders, and more. Nonetheless, these assessments are rooted in our research, and the themes listed below might not encompass the distinct features you seek. Therefore, we strongly recommend adhering to our earlier advice in order to pinpoint the ideal theme for your holiday rental website.
The Bellevue Theme is a versatile WordPress theme tailored for hotels and vacation rentals. It integrates a premium booking system and supports major platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com. This theme stands out with its WooCommerce compatibility, customisable design options via Elementor, and a variety of pre-designed templates suitable for various accommodation types. Bellevue is user-friendly, offering fast setup and multilingual support, making it a robust choice for creating professional, responsive accommodation holiday rental websites.
Cost: $60 + VAT
Key theme highlights
- Bellevue offers a high PageSpeed score and over $940 worth of freebies.
- It includes 16 real-life demos for different property types like hotels, resorts, and single or multiple properties.
- The theme features a premium booking system that syncs with platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com, and integrates with WooCommerce for payments.
- Bellevue provides a real-time search availability form, supports an unlimited number of accommodations, and offers confirmation modes, discount coupons, and email notifications.
- The theme includes a mobile app for managing bookings on the go.
- Bellevue offers 400 templates, 300 design blocks, 70 Elementor widgets, and customisation options for headers, footers, rooms, and accommodations.
- The theme is translation ready, supports integration with third-party WordPress plugins, and allows for the import of live demo pages or blocks instantly.
- Bellevue also provides a fully integrated online shop, multiple payment gateway options, and customer account features
2. WP Rentals
WP Rentals is a WordPress theme specifically crafted for rental services, including property. It combines a modern, intuitive design with extensive customisation through Elementor widgets and a responsive layout. Key features include WooCommerce integration for smooth payment processing, booking forms, and WPML compatibility for multilingual support. With 10,000 buyers and a very high review rate, with minimal negative reviews, it is definitely a preferred WordPress theme for holiday rentals.
Cost: $69 + VAT
- Modern design with customizable demos and Elementor compatibility.
- Mobile-friendly, responsive, and Retina ready for all devices.
- Offers virtual tours on property pages.
- Flexible booking options with built-in caching and multi-currency support.
- Efficient customer support with quick response times.
- Features instant booking and deposit payments.
- Allows setting custom prices for specific dates and longer stays.
- Unique extra booking options for added flexibility in pricing.
- Supports setting specific check-in and check-out days.
CozyStay is a sleek WordPress theme tailored for hotel and vacation rental bookings, featuring an intuitive room booking system, customizable layouts with Elementor, and WooCommerce integration for easy payment processing. Optimized for responsive design, it supports multilingual content, making it ideal for modern, user-friendly hotel and rental websites. It is a fairly new theme, but so far based on reviews, it does look like a promising up and comer.
Cost: $69 + VAT
- A trendy design complemented by an easy-to-use drag-and-drop page builder – Elementor.
- It offers 5 complete pre-made demo sites catering to different types of hotels and a large collection of templates and design elements.
- The theme is equipped with a comprehensive room management and reservation system, including room amenities, price, and availability management.
- CozyStay allows for customizable room search, extra services management, and 6 different room list layouts.
- It supports flexible payment gateways with WooCommerce and boasts cross-browser compatibility.
- The theme is responsive, ensuring a beautiful display on any device, and allows for customization with instant preview, including color and typography changes.
- CozyStay also offers a light and dark color scheme and is designed to be SEO-friendly, supporting various popular plugins and multilingual websites
Homey is a specialized WordPress theme for booking and rentals, distinguished by its sophisticated management system for properties and reservations, including front-end submissions and tracking reservation requests. It offers a customizable booking system with instant booking capabilities, a responsive booking calendar, and advanced search filters. Homey stands out with its pricing and fees management system, allowing detailed control over various pricing strategies, integrated with popular payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe.
Cost: $69 + VAT
- Features a customizable booking system with instant booking and a responsive calendar.
- Includes advanced search filters and a user-friendly search composer.
- Offers comprehensive listing management tools with front-end submissions and reservation tracking.
- Provides flexible pricing and fees management, along with integrated payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe.
- Boasts a responsive, mobile-friendly design that’s retina ready.
- Highly customizable with drag-and-drop Visual Composer modules.
- Backed by reliable customer support for assistance and queries
In this article, we’ve aimed to equip you with valuable tips and advice to help you select the ideal WordPress theme for your holiday rental website. While we’ve outlined several options, it’s important to remember that the final choice hinges on your unique requirements. This decision-making process may require a bit of due diligence on your part. Should you find yourself uncertain about where to begin, or if you need assistance in creating your website, our team is always ready to lend a helping hand. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for guidance.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that the visual appeal of a website, while important, is just one aspect of what drives quality traffic and leads to enquiries and bookings. We strongly recommend conducting thorough research into your competitors’ websites. Analyse how they’ve structured their pages and laid out their content. Identifying what works and what doesn’t in their approach can provide valuable insights. Apply these learnings to your own website to enhance its effectiveness.
Finally, we wish you the very best in your journey to find the perfect theme, develop it, and start generating countless direct bookings. With the right tools and strategies, your holiday rental website can become a thriving hub for attracting guests and growing your business.