There are a lot of reasons why I really like WordPress.  As a former developer (I don’t write code much anymore) I spent a good portion of my time building content management systems for business users.  In fact before we developed Rezgo, we had developed a module based content management system that was quite sophisticated and extensible for its time.  Part of the reason why we stopped building our own proprietary content management system was because platforms like Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress were really starting to pick up steam and, frankly, they were better in many ways than what we could develop ourselves.  Not to mention, third party developers were creating all kinds of really great plug-ins and add-ons for these platforms.  What we have now, after ten years of WordPress, is an incredible ecosystem of plug-ins, including the Rezgo WordPress booking engine, that make WordPress, in my opinion, the best content management system for tour and activity operators.

Drive online revenues with a WordPress booking engine

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/64060016@N03/5964629989/

Open source with lots of commercial support

Businesses are always a bit skeptical about things that are free or open source.  For many applications, that may be the case, but for a small business website, it isn’t as important.  One of the reasons why WordPress has taken off is because, despite the fact that it is open source, there is a ton of commercial services that support it.  There is an entire ecosystem of WordPress developers, designers, integrators, and consultants ready to provide you with technical services if you need it.  There are even companies like WooThemes that have built their entire business on building WordPress themes and applications.

Easy to use out of the box

Even if you choose not to use a designer or developer to help you with your WordPress install, you can do most of it yourself through your web hosting company.  Many popular web hosts provide one click installs for WordPress.  Bluehost, for example, has out of the box support for WordPress and makes it incredibly simple to get a site up and running.  For many small businesses on a limited budget, using the standard theme with a nice custom header image will result in a website that is, in my opinion, better than most out there.

There are also a ton of getting started resources and training videos.  The WordPress site itself has a getting started section designed for those who have never used WordPress before.  If you are going to use WordPress, I recommend you spend the time to go through the tutorials, it is well worth it and you’ll feel really good when you’re done.  WP101 has an excellent series of WordPress tutorials.  Some are free but most require a small annual subscription.  It’s well worth it if you are new to WordPress.

Search engine benefits

A key reason for the success of WordPress as a platform is the way in which links and content are created within a site.  WordPress websites, when using search friendly permalinks, are automatically search friendly and easily crawled by the major search engines.  Because of the way WordPress is designed, website owners tend to be much more engaged with creating content and making tweaks to their website on a regular basis, which also helps to keep the site updated and fresh in the eyes of Google and the other search engines.  There are also a number of incredibly powerful SEO tools that are available that help you to optimize your WordPress site.  One of my favorite plugins is Yoast WordPress SEO, which automates a lot of the SEO functions for you and makes the process of optimization fully integrated into your WordPress experience.

Fully Integrated Booking Engine

Of course one of my big reasons for liking WordPress is our Rezgo Online Booking plugin.  In just over two years, the Rezgo WordPress plugin has become the most popular way to integrate Rezgo into a website.  We’re seeing almost 60% of traffic coming from API calls that originate from WordPress based websites.  The benefit of integrating a booking engine like Rezgo directly into your WordPress site is that you benefit from having all of your tour or activity content on your site versus having it hosted only on the white label Rezgo site.  Unlike javascript or iframe based booking engines that don’t provide any search engine benefit (and pose a potential security risk), a fully integrated booking engine provides you with a seamless customer experience while providing you with all the search engine benefits of hosting the content on your own site.

Although we have seen some amazing WordPress integrations lately, even the standard out of the box installation adds a huge amount of credibility and professionalism to a tour operator website.

Social by nature

We can’t forget about the social web and how important it is to share content.  WordPress is particularly well suited for this.  When you combine the fact that WordPress was and still is a platform for blogging or content generation in general, with the ubiquity of RSS (really simple syndication), it is a small publisher’s dream machine.  Producing good content is something I recommend you do as part of your overall social media strategy.  It helps to establish your expertise and also helps to attract customers who might be in the early stages of planning their trip.

Follow these simple steps to to improve your SEO, write great content, use WordPress to get it on the web, and use plugins that support social sharing, like JetPack, and you will be well on your way to increasing your traffic and most likely your conversions as well.